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Understanding Variation

If I had to reduce my message for management to just a few words, Id say it all had
to do with reducing variation.
W. Edwards Deming

Common Causes - Causes of variation


that are inherent in the process hour
after hour, day after day, and affect
UCL
every occurrence of the process.
Common
Special Causes - Causes that are not in
LCL
the process all the time or do not affect
every occurrence but arise because of TIME
special circumstances. Special

Tampering - Reacting to an individual


occurrence of a process when only
common cause variation is present.
Before lessons Lessons After lessons

UCL
x UCL
LCL
LCL

Fig. 30. Average weekly scores in golf for a beginner who took lessons
before he reached a state of statistical control. Scores for four successive
games constituted a sample of size n = 4 for computation of x and R.
(The chart for the range is not shown.) Taken from W. Edwards Deming,
ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF THE STATISTICAL CONTROL OF
QUALITY (Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers, Tokyo, 1950),
p.22. UCL and LCL mean upper control limit and lower control limit.
Before lesson Lessons After lessons

Upper control limit

Lower control limit

Fig. 32. Average scores in golf for an experienced golfer, before and
after lessons. Here the player had already achieved statistical control
before he took lessons. The lessons were accordingly ineffective. Scores
for four successive games constituted a sample of size n = 4 for
computation of x and R. (The chart for the range is not shown.) Taken
from W. Edwards Deming, ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF THE
STATISTICAL CONTROL OF QUALITY (Union of Japanese
Scientists and Engineers, Tokyo, 1950), p. 22.
0.8

UCL

x 0.7 LCL
UCL
UCL

0.6 LCL
LCL

(1) Just before (2) 10 days after (3) 3 weeks after


lessons began. lessons began. lessons began.

Fig. 31. Average daily scores for a patient learning to walk after an operation: (1)
before lessons began; (2) 10 days after lessons began; (3) 3 weeks after lessons began.
From Hirokawa and Sugiyama; reference in footnote. The control limits came from
the whole group of patients.
COMMON CAUSE HIGHWAY SPECIAL CAUSE HIGHWAY
Management Reactions to Variation

Good Job!! Good Job!!


Good Job!!

What
happened???!!! What
happened???!!!

J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J J A S O

WHY IT DOESNT PAY TO BE NICE


A stable process, one with no indications of a special
cause of variation, is said to be, following Shewhart, in
statistical control or stable with respect to the quality-
characteristics measured. It is a random process. Its
behavior in the near future is predictable. Of course,
some unforeseen jolt may come along and knock the
process out of statistical control. A system that is in
statistical control has a definable identity and a
definable capability (see: Out of the Crises, p. 339).

W. Edwards Deming
Reduce Variation - an applied Example
Continuous Improvement

UPPER SPEC
LIMIT

UPPER
CONTROL
LIMIT

LOWER
CONTROL
LIMIT

LOWER SPEC
LIMIT