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Peter J. Sherman

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Better Project Management Through Beta Distribution

As a Six Sigma professional responsible for managing projects, have you ever been asked the following questions? When do you reasonably expect to complete your project? What’s the probability of completing the project on time or on a given date? Which activities on the critical path should you focus your attention on to meet the…


Taking Advantage of the Age of Statistics: Part 2

Part 1 of this article helped practitioners understand the key drivers for the growth of statistics, introduced some leading analytics competitors and outlined the high-level profit roadmap. Now it is time to begin using the tools. Part 2 describes some statistical tools practitioners can use for predictive decision making. Applying the Analytics Tools Two key…

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Taking Advantage of the Age of Statistics: Part I

One of the most memorable quotes from the movie The Graduate (1967), staring Dustin Hoffman, is the brief exchange between young Benjamin and a family friend, who offers the following advice: Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Benjamin: Yes, sir. Mr. McGuire: Are you listening? Benjamin: Yes, I…


To Save Cost, Set Product Warranties Based on Quality

Imagine you are the quality manager for a consumer electronics manufacturer. At the previous staff meeting, the CEO asked the management team for ideas that could help the company become more competitive and increase profits. It is now one month later. During the staff meeting, members of the marketing department present some research that shows…


Tips for Recognizing and Transforming Non-normal Data

Six Sigma professionals should be familiar with normally distributed processes: the characteristic bell-shaped curve that is symmetrical about the mean, with tails approaching plus and minus infinity (Figure 1). When data fits a normal distribution, practitioners can make statements about the population using common analytical techniques, including control charts and capability indices (such as sigma…


Strengthening the Employee-customer Interaction

The most perfectly designed and built process or system is only as good as the human being who uses it. That’s the idea behind Human Sigma, a new branch of Six Sigma that focuses on improving the quality of the employee-customer encounter, particularly within sales and service organizations. Human Sigma proponents, including John H. Fleming…

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Interpreting Anomalies Correctly Can Help Avoid Waste

People say that Six Sigma is sometimes like using a rocket ship engine in an automobile. The techniques and statistical software tools are so powerful they can lead to anomalies in the data or produce “bad” results. These include: Histograms that do not appear normal Scatter plot diagrams that do not fit a straight line…


Quality Skills Can Make a Difference in the Community

As quality professionals, it is easy to become absorbed in day-to-day professional business roles: improving the quality of products or services, increasing productivity, enhancing profits, lowering costs, raising customer satisfaction and so on. Sometimes, however, it is important to pause and ask ourselves a fundamental question: How are we improving quality in our communities? For…