ASQ - Statistics Division

The Embedded Statistician – 2003 Youden Address

Abstract: The author returns to discuss the changes – both technical and non-technical – that had happened since his last address in 1987. Surprisingly, many of his remarks from then that advocated a shift from a conventional view of quality control (build it, and they will buy it) to a new vision where customer feedback should be incorporated into product design and process control are still valid. Getting back to the present, there are new dynamics that are driving the environment now and they present challenges and opportunities. Globalization is one of these drivers. Another one is instantaneous communication that requires learning new ways of communicating, like teleconferences or email. Yet, another is information gathering and analysis triggered by advancements in instrumentation and computation. And closing the list of drivers is the “democratization” of statistics which implies that statistics is not a competency exclusive of statisticians alone but also of people at different levels and functions of an organization who are increasingly interested in performing design of experiments and measurement error assessment. The concern that membership for Statistics and Quality professional societies is declining, whatever the causes might be, raises some questions about the future of the profession, and should prompt us into action. The solution to reverse this perceived downturn calls for “the embedded statistician.” The embedded statistician is an integral member of the business team who takes a process-oriented approach in a highly proactive role.

Keywords: DMAIC (Define Measure - Analyze - Improve - Control - DMADV (Define - Measure - Analyze - Design - Verify) - Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) - Data acquisition - Measurement Error

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