Deming’s Profound Knowledge consists of four elements. Answer the following three parts relating to the “variation” element of Deming’s Profound Knowledge. Your discussion should relate to this element of Deming’s Profound Knowledge and not variation in general.

1.     Explain how a quincunx can be used to explain variation. (10 points)

2.     Why is understanding variation important, and what do we need to do about it? (10 points)

3.     What tools do we need to use to understand variation, and why is using these tools important to our decision-making process? (10 points)


Ans1: In a quincunx, small balls are dropped from a hole in the top and it hit a series of pins as they fall toward collection boxes. The pins cause each ball to move randomly to the left or the right as it strikes each pin on its way down. The frequency distribution of where the balls land is symmetrical bell shape of the distribution. Even though all balls are dropped from the same position, the end result shows variation. The same kind of variation exists in any production and service process, due to factors inherent in the design of the system, which cannot easily be controlled.

Ans2: Excessive variation results in products that fail or perform erratic and inconsistent service. Management should understand variation and work to reduce variation through improvements in technology, process design, and training. With less variation, both the producer and consumer benefit. The consumer has the advantage of knowing that all products and services have similar quality characteristics and will perform or be delivered consistently. Statistical methods are the primary tools used to identify and quantify variation. Every employee in the firm should be familiar with statistical techniques and other problem-solving tools. Statistics can then become the common language that every employee from top executives to line workers uses to communicate with one another.

Ans 3: Statistical methods are the primary tools used to identify and quantify variation. At the organizational level, Statistical methods helps manager and top management understand the business system , use data from the organization to assess performance and encourage employees to experiment to improve their work. Thus, every manager and employee can benefit from statistical thinking and using total quality tools in their decision making process at the organization, process and individual level.

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