ASQ - Statistics Division

Statistical Thinking and Its Contribution to Total Quality – Mini Paper Appearing in Winter 1991 Newsletter

Abstract: The author presents a model to help understand total quality. The model has three linked segments that relate to levels of activity in an organization. These segments are strategic, managerial, and operational. In addition, total quality has four key ingredients: management leadership, product quality and care of customers, people and teamwork, and constant improvement and innovation. Statistical thinking has a crucial role in all four ingredients at each of the three segments to achieve total quality; however, the focus of statistical thinking has to move from tools and problem solving to the development of systems for achieving total quality. The key to making this transition is to focus on statistical thinking rather than statistical tools. The importance of statistical thinking derives from understanding that reducing variation in a set of interconnected processes improves quality. Statistical thinking can also be thought of at three different levels of activity: concepts, systems, and tools that parallel the total quality levels of strategic, managerial, and operational activity respectively.

Keywords: Total quality - Statistical thinking - sources of variation - Common cause - Special cause

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