Peace in work management

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One may not be aware that Control charts, a statistical tool, if used judiciously; one can go to sleep as a manager for most of the time or devote the time for building new capabilities or anticipating future problems. Control Charts was invented by Walter A. Shewhart, an American Physicist and Mathematician who worked in Bell Labs.

Variations is the biggest source of problems in wide ranging contexts i.e. industrial, business organizations, performance of human beings, machine outputs, blood pressures, office reaching time, services, delivery etc. Science of variation is a fascinating world if seen through statistical tools.

Shewhart established the theory of variations which was propagated by Deming and practiced rigorously by Japanese. It says that any output, process, system, performance will have variations. There are 2 types of variations as given below:

Chance cause of variation (Inherent or natural variation) – As shown in the first figure, any process, output, performance or a system has its inherent variations which are perfectly normal and nothing needs to be done with the system. If the variation range is unacceptable then the basic design has to be changed rather than tweaking the process which will only destabilize the process.

Assignable Cause of Variation (External or undesirable cause of variation) – The external factor causing the variation is the matter of concern and must be immediately acted upon to reduce the spiraling or cascading impact on process or systems.

Common mistakes in understanding the nature of variations

Let us see the trend of a particular performance or output. In absence of the understanding of chance cause and assignable cause what happens normally that people who have the responsibility for the particular performance parameter, react up and down, emotionally, followed up by unnecessary actions and subsequent torture driven by the upward and downward movement of the trend line.

Thus in absence of knowledge of the types of variations, people are caught up in a Yo-Yo like swing of response. Feeling excited and having a sense of achievement when the trend is up and getting into despair when the trend is down. The sad part is that perhaps there was no need to have any emotion at all except peace and tranquility as the variations could well could have been within the limits of the natural variation of the process or system.

Worse still seeing these trends which could be well within the natural variation band people start tinkering with the system and ultimately convert it into an unstable system from a very well stable system. This leads to wide fluctuations on a regular basis causing a great deal of pain to the persons involved. This is a kind of committing hara-kiri though out of ignorance. A typical control chart is shown in figure number 2 where variations are in the band of natural variation.

A very good brief description on Control Charts is given on ASQ site {http://asq.org/learn-about-quality/data-collection-analysis-tools/overview/control-chart.html}

Sources –

Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_A._Shewhart]

ASQ [http://asq.org/learn-about-quality/data-collection-analysis- tools/overview/control-chart.html]

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