Seen & Heard

Remembering a teacher

Thank you for publishing Connie Borror’s excellent review of Lloyd Nelson’s contributions to the quality and statistics communities in "Statistics Roundtable: A Quality Practitioner’s Friend" (April 2014, pp. 46-47). I had the great privilege of knowing Lloyd over a 10-year period from 1956 to 1966 when we worked at General Electric (GE) Lighting in Cleveland. Lloyd was the consulting statistician for the lighting division of GE. I was a young engineering supervisor of quality assurance sampling inspection and testing at the 10 assembly plants of the lighting division’s large lamp department. We had a great "Mutt and Jeff" relationship.1

In addition to teaching frequent courses on applied statistics, Lloyd found time to mentor me in applied statistics and I, in turn, coached him on the cultural and technical intricacies of the highly automated and high-speed assembly of incandescent, fluorescent and high-intensity discharge lamps.

Lloyd had a great capacity for understanding people and a strong drive to ensure that students in his courses not only learned how to turn the cranks of statistical calculations but also to understand why, where and how to use them. He urged colleagues to know how to correctly interpret results. He had a wry sense of humor that made learning from him a joy.;

One of the gems I always remember is: "If one doubts the need for controls in an experiment, reflect on the following conclusion: It has been proven by aboriginal tribes over hundreds of years of experiments that the beating of tom-toms will restore the sun after an eclipse." Lloyd will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by his many students and mentees.

Bob Abbott
Louisville, KY


  1. "Mutt and Jeff" was a popular American newspaper comic strip about two mismatched characters.

Experience is key

In response to "Standards Outlook: Do You Really Understand?" (April 2014, pp. 48-49): This is a fantastic article by one of my favorite authors of all time. J.P. Russell is straightforward, humorous and right on the money. When I saw this article, it was the right thing at the right time. We are struggling with this problem in the Army acquisition business in the quality field: How do you know whether your contractor is doing what you intended in the quality sections of the contract if you don’t know what the outcome should look like? So we ran internal quality classes, but we can’t give the attendees the all-important missing piece—experience. Still, we must try.

Nora E. Iversen
Royal Oak, MI

Real-life odds

"Probing Probabilities" (March 2014, pp. 18-22) was one of the best articles that I have read in a long time. Recently, I was stopped at the airport security after they did the initial "check for residue on your hands" test. I failed the initial test, and so they had to do it again and the second time failed. Finally, the third time I passed. I am guessing this same theory worked for this test, too. I am sure the test is not that accurate, and the chance of it being positive is very rare. Because I had read the article, I didn’t get concerned about not passing.

Doug Von Feldt
Lawrence, KS

Tune In

The ASQ TV episode available June 3 focuses on teams. In the episode:

  • Learn about the International Team Excellence Award process.
  • See how Coca-Cola improved customer satisfaction.
  • Discover ways to enhance your team’s creativity.

Watch for another episode later in June on data management. Visit http://videos.asq.org to access the full video library.

Online Extras

  • More to the answer
    Read an expanded response about evaluating equipment capability, one of the topics addressed in this month’s Expert Answers department (pp. 8-9).
  • Extra details
    View additional sidebars from the article "Insurance Policy" (pp. 34-40) that explain more about how a government agency designed and deployed an enterprise content management system using quality principles.
  • Screen time
    View a video of William Minckler, author of "Insurance Policy," pp. 34-40, discussing more about enterprise content management systems.
  • Illustrated curve
    An additional graphic adds to this month’s Back to Basics column (p. 72), which covers operating characteristic curves.

Quick Poll Results

Each month at www.qualityprogress.com, visitors can take an informal survey. Here are the numbers from last month’s Quick Poll:

What do you think is the most challenging aspect of working with a team?

  • Engaging all members. 40.4%
  • Managing various personalities. 34%
  • Communicating. 25.5%
  • Generating ideas. 0%

Visit www.qualityprogress.com for the latest question:

Which aspect of supply chain optimization would most benefit your organization?

  • Eliminating waste within the chain.
  • Identifying and partnering with the right suppliers.
  • Managing processes effectively.
  • Auditing suppliers accurately.

Quality News Today

Recent headlines from ASQ’s global news service

7 Things Great Employers Do
Gallup has uncovered seven unusual, innovative and proven tactics to create productive and profitable working environments. As a recipe for an engaged workforce, these are ingredients Gallup says it feels confident recommending.

Transforming Safety Culture Saves Organization $100M
Using the language of retail rather than risk management and applying tools not usually used in risk management to aspects of its stores’ business, supermarket chain Safeway Inc. has created a culture of safety program that is saving the company millions of dollars in workers’ compensation and general liability costs.

Want the latest quality-related news and analysis? The QNT Weekly enewsletter, available exclusively to ASQ members, delivers it every Friday. Subscribe now at http://email.asq.org/subscribe/qntwk.

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