All Answers are Approximate -- and Temporary: Statistical Thinking and Total Quality Management

Article

Flynn, Michael F.   (1990, ASQC)   STAT-A-MATRIX, Inc., Edison, NJ

Annual Quality Congress, San Francisco, CA    Vol. 44    No. 0
QICID: 9481    May 1990    pp. 385-391
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Article Abstract

Resurgent world-wide competition has ended post-war American economic dominance, and we find ourselves matching wits with competitors as wily and as able as ourselves -- not only in the international market, but in our own domestic markets. Corporate response has ranged from complaints of "unfair" competition to calls for revamping the entire system of American management and education. Prominent on everyone's list is the use of "SPC." But the reduction of "statistical theory and methods" to a set of three initials limits our thinking. Many regard SPC as a "tool for the operator to use to control his process." But the real need is not for statistical technique so much as it is for statistical mindedness - in all phases of business operations. Statistics is the science of variation; and variation permeates virtually every aspect of business life: market research, purchasing, inventory planning, equipment maintenance, data processing, etc. It even affects public policy. We are constantly called upon to make management decisions based on partial data in dynamic situations -- without fully appreciating the fact that our answers are necessarily approximate and temporary. This paper will address the issue of "statistical mindedness" in Total Quality Management by examining the statistical aspects of many business situations.

Keywords

Statistics,Statistical process control (SPC)


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