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Six Sigma and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

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Viewing 16 posts - 1 through 16 (of 16 total)
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  • #47283

    Ava
    Participant

    Hello all,
    I wanted to get everyones thoughts on Six Sigma and Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. The principle simply stated; the more precisely you attempt to measure an entity, the more you influence the result of what you are trying to measure. My question; as practitioners of Six Sigma do we get ourselves into a position of conflict of attempting to understand a process to such a degree that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle now plays a roll in our project? If so, how do we address this and avoid the effect in the future?

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    #157516

    BritW
    Participant

    1. If you influence it positively, why not measure….
    2. If someone is measuring enough to influence outcomes to a degree caused simply by the measure, then there are more problems than just a poor process.

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    #157520

    Ava
    Participant

    I think the point I intended to make related to the Heisenberg Principle was avoiding mearuring to an extent that we disturb the ” As Is Process” in an effort to observe it in it’s true state. I would think that we would prefer to improve a process that is operating in it’s true state to realize the greatest most sustainable benefit? I would hate to improve a process only to have it fail after turning it over to the organization in the control phase because of the affects of the Heisenberg Principle.

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    #157523

    clb1
    Participant

     While the simplified statement of the uncertainty principle is correct I think you need to remember the realm in which it is a concern – quantum physics.  Unless you happen to live in the world of Mr. Tompkins in Paperback (a world where h, Plank’s constant, is approximately equal to 1 instead of its day-to-day value of 6 x 10**(-34)) I seriously doubt you will have to take this into account.

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    #157527

    Jim Shelor
    Participant

    clb1,
    The principle is not only of concern in quantum physics.  It is also of concern in social science.
    A persons behavior will change as a result of being watched.  In terms of processes, the process will get better simply by watching the operators (or in this case, measuring them).
    Jim Shelor

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    #157531

    Ava
    Participant

    Jim,
    Agreed! But, I also think that because someone is being watched/measured that their performance will change in some way and not always to the “Better” side of the scale. The fact that there is that change in behavior (Process) lends itself to NOT getting the True Picture of what is going on.

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    #157532

    clb1
    Participant

     Jim, you are referring to the Hawthorne Effect. The uncertainty principle applies to the precision and accuracy of certain combinations of simultaneous measurements made on very small objects such as electrons. In the case of the velocity and position of an electron it states it is impossible to make these two measurements simultaneously with unlimited accuracy.
     In order for the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to apply to people you would have to have a situation where closely observing a worker on the line would result in your inability to simultaneously determine his/her location on the line and the speed with which he/she was performing a particular task to some arbitrary degree of precision. 

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    #157533

    Jim Shelor
    Participant

    clb1,
    Apparently you are correct.  The reference I was using used the example of “use in social sciences” under the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and then references the Hawthorne Effect.  When I looked further, in the discussion page, the Author has been challenged about connecting the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle with the Social Sciences.
    Thanks for the correction.  It appears this topic shoud be about the Hawthorne Effect.
    Regards,
    Jim Shelor

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    #157534

    Jim Shelor
    Participant

    Ava,
    Assuming what you say is true, I disagree by the way, bt assuming it is true, then I would use what I measure as the baseline for the process, regardless of any behavioral effects.
    Following implementation of actions, when I move into the control phase, continuing to measure will produce a performance under the same conditions as the baseline and will produce a good comparison for improvement.
    One of the control actions should be to control chart the process.  If you thin you are getting large changes in variation or mean because your operators are relaxing, tey will get the point when you show the first control chart that proves that point.
    Regards,
    Jim Shelor

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    #157535

    Helper
    Participant

    Hello Ava,
    In reading your initial question and subsequent responses, I believe I can shed some light on your perceived delima.  I believe what creates the delima for you is in the understanding you have about the uncertainty principle.  Your understanding, “principle simply stated; the more precisely you attempt to measure an entity, the more you influence the result of what you are trying to measure.”
    A more accurate understanding of the principle starts with the notion that Heisenburg found that at the quantum level a small disturbance exists which creates uncertainty in a part of all measurements.  The conclusions of his work lead to the notion that the outcome of all precision measurements has some “error” attached.  If we can be so bold to translate this principle out of the quantum level into our world, we can state that there is variation in the productive output of all manufacturing processes.  This variation is common to all parts and outputs and no part is exactly identical to another.  Our effort, as six sigma professionals, is to control this variation within certain acceptable limits through engineering, technology and exceptional management practices.
    Hope this helps………
    Helper 

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    #157537

    Helper
    Participant

    Jim,
    Interesting notion you state.  But perhaps it would serve a useful purpose to not confuse the Hawthorne Effect with Heisenburg’s Uncertainty Principle…… Yes?
     

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    #157544

    Hawthorne Effect
    Participant

    just as an fyi, when the original Hawthorne data were rerun in the 1970s it could be shown that the impact was vastly inflated. Some of the signficiant findings showed non-significance after re-running the data. In general, yes, the observation may change the behavior, but this is not always the case.

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    #157551

    Jim Shelor
    Participant

    Helper,
    I would say that not confusing the two would be a good idea.  Take this example for instance:
    “Hello Ava,
    In reading your initial question and subsequent responses, I believe I can shed some light on your perceived delima.  I believe what creates the delima for you is in the understanding you have about the uncertainty principle.  Your understanding, “principle simply stated; the more precisely you attempt to measure an entity, the more you influence the result of what you are trying to measure.”
    A more accurate understanding of the principle starts with the notion that Heisenburg found that at the quantum level a small disturbance exists which creates uncertainty in a part of all measurements.  The conclusions of his work lead to the notion that the outcome of all precision measurements has some “error” attached.  If we can be so bold to translate this principle out of the quantum level into our world, we can state that there is variation in the productive output of all manufacturing processes.  This variation is common to all parts and outputs and no part is exactly identical to another.  Our effort, as six sigma professionals, is to control this variation within certain acceptable limits through engineering, technology and exceptional management practices.
    Hope this helps………
    Helper”
    I hope that helps,
    Jim Shelor

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    #157582

    Helper
    Participant

    Hello Jim,
    I suspect your last posting and response to me equates not confusing the uncertainty principle with the Hawthorne effect with not confusing the uncertainty principle witth common cause variation.  To the the extent that one would like to be conservative in their postulations, I would agree with you whole heartedly.  But, to the extent we can answer Ava’s question while boldly explaining a liberal interpretation of the source (quantum source) of common cause variation, one might find that type of conjecture interesting to discuss.
    I look forward to your response.
    Helper

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    #157584

    Jim Shelor
    Participant

    Helper,
    Actually, no.  It was meant as a snide remark since it is only a quote of you posting to me.
    Regards,
    Jim Shelor

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    #157589

    Helper
    Participant

    Oh……..OK.
    Sorry, sometimes I am just a little slow on the uptake.
    Pretty good as snide remarks go though.
    Take care…..

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