Take Charge

Abstract:If managers do not use control charts, two errors are possible. They could fail to identify a performance change as a special cause and thereby lose valuable information about the system. Or, they could treat a change as a special cause when it is, in fact, a part of natural variation. This second error, known as tampering, was the subject of a psychological study of airline pilot supervisors that uncovered a number of superstitious learnings that could have been avoided by using control charts, as recommended by W. Edwards Deming, to identify common and special causes in personnel management. The concern is that managers may fall victim to the fundamental attribution error, attributing changes in performance to the individual when a host of system factors are the true cause. In some cases, a manager would not know whether the individual is a potential cause of change without creating a control chart. If the system is in control, the individual is not a significant cause of variation and …

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I read this article on a recent airplane ride and could not agree more. Great job on writing an article which captured the "softer" (i.e. the mindset) side of SPC.
--Andrew McDermott, 09-23-2013


Understanding variation. One key point about statistical thinking, explained in terms of the impact of managers who are not aware of that. Excellent!
--jose costas, 07-28-2013


Wow. This describes our current management to a tee. Not only do they not understand variation, but they are truly Theory X individuals. What is worse, they believe they understand variation and instead of looking at the systemic issues that may be causing some of the common cause variation, or the special causes that exist that are part of the special cause variation, they tell themselves it all people-caused. Deming students they are not.
--Deborah Ybarra, 07-11-2013


excellent material. Clariifies ideas about management that I had often muddled through but could not resolve. Thanks for publishing this article.
--David Lloyd, 07-10-2013


an eye opener
--umesh kumar sharma, 07-09-2013


Highly recommended read. Thanks for such an insightful article. Managers would do well to look into creating control charts to understand common cause from special causes.
--Roland Tang, 07-09-2013


Good to remembre the basics. Thanks

--David Uribe, 07-01-2013


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