5 Management Mistakes in Using Data

W. Edwards Deming had a lot to say about how managers use data incorrectly and waste the resources of an organization. It was part of his philosophy of quality which he called “profound knowledge.” He stressed a number of mistakes typically made by managers when handling data. Here are some of the problems along with the antidote for each misuse.

Mistake 1 – Assuming variation is a result of special cause variability when it is really due to common cause variability.

Common cause variability is when a system is in statistical control with small random type variation going on. The only way to tell if a system is in control is to consider all the data, usually by plotting it, and find out if the data variability is within certain defined bounds. If it is, then for managers to ask people to explain the variation is simply a waste of…

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