Six_Sigma_and_introductory_statistics_education

Six_Sigma_and_introductory_statistics_education - Six sigma...

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Six sigma and introductory statistics education John Maleyeff and Frank C. Kaminsky In many business environments, the six sigma culture is becoming a way of life through a systematic effort to introduce a uniform approach and set of techniques for continuous quality improvement Harry and Schroeder, 2000). The main benefit of a six sigma program is the elimination of subjectivity in decision making by creating a system where everyone in the organization collects, analyzes, and displays data in a consistent way. Six sigma is a direct extension of total quality management Persico, 1992) which, in turn, is based on the principles and teachings of W. Edwards Deming 1900- 1993). In a sense, as a result of the popularity of six sigma, the Deming philosophy of management is undergoing a positive revival. Typically, Deming's 14 points of management and his seven deadly diseases of management are used to illustrate Deming's guiding principles Deming, 1986; Walton, 1986). For example, an important focus on Deming's management philosophy involves a movement from systems that rely on inspections to achieve quality to systems that rely on understanding the random behavior of the business processes that generate a company's product or service. In many cases, Deming's philosophy is introduced in management statistics courses as part of the introductory chapter that motivates the need for statistics and statistical thinking in management. Unfortunately, the material included in many textbooks does not provide a clear mechanism for the application of Deming's principles throughout the course. For example, students may not be exposed to techniques that may be useful in characterizing the behavior of dynamic processes. While many textbooks do include a chapter on statistical quality control, this chapter will be found at the end of the text. Typically, the coverage in this chapter will be focussed on issues related to the conformance of manufactured parts to specifications. In fact, since many programs in management include an elective course in quality management, instructors often skip this chapter. In this article, it will be argued that a statistics course for management and business administration students should start with the Deming philosophy of management and should include the basic elements of the philosophy throughout the course. While some authors have used the phrase statistical The authors John Maleyeff is an Associate Professor with the Lally School of Management and Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Hartford, Connecticut, USA Frank C. Kaminsky is Emeritus Professor at the College of Engineering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA Keywords Quality, Statistics, Total quality management Abstract A conflict exists between the way statistics is practiced in contemporary business environments and the way statistics is taught in schools of management. While businesses are embracing programs, such as six sigma and TQM, that bring statistical methods to the forefront of
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