Quality Quiz from Professor Cleary
Cal A. Braite, the intrepid but clueless quality manager for Serial Cereals, Inc., has been invited to be a guest lecturer at his local community college. Professor Stan Deviation, department chair, has invited him because of the reputation of Serial Cereals in the community, as well as because he is Professor Deviation’s brother-in-law. Although he knows little about Cal’s knowledge of statistics, he understands that the best way to learn something is to teach it, and therefore recommends Cal A. Braite for the role.
Cal, who fails in his attempts to secure a temporary title of “Professor,” nonetheless forges ahead with plans for his first lesson. Of course, he has to take several days off from his position at Serial Cereals, since class preparation is so demanding. He decides that he will begin with basic data analysis, to warm up his students and let them experience his own wisdom firsthand.
“Three ways of looking at data are through the concepts of central location, shape, and variability,” he drones. Several students seem to be intent on the content of his lecture, recording his every word on their PDAs. Occasionally their serious concentration seems to be punctuated by beeps and trills, but Cal assumes that the noises are generated by overloading their systems with formulas.
Emboldened, he moves next to the concept of control charts, leading the class through an exercise on creating X-bar and R charts, when a student raises her hand to ask a question—always a dangerous moment for Cal, who only skates on the surface of understanding these concepts himself. The student asks about Ishikawa diagrams, which he has noticed are used by colleagues in his part-time job at a local hospital.
Since Cal A. Braite has never heard of Ishikawa diagrams, he has no idea what she’s talking about. Never at a loss, however, he recovers his composure by defining the Taguchi loss function, since that’s the only statistical concept he knows with a Japanese name and he assumes they must be related. So he defines Ishikawa diagrams for the student: “That’s a complex statistical methodology used to measure costs when you’re off target,” he says confidently. (Cal is known for his confident attitude.)
Is Cal himself off target? Or did he happen to accidentally score a bull’s eye in his definition?
a) Amazingly, he has managed to identify the Ishikawa diagram without ever seeing one.
b) Sorry, Cal. The only thing Taguchi and Ishikawa have in common is that they’re both named after Japanese statisticians.
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2008 PQ Systems.
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