Quality quiz (May 2017)—and April’s quiz winners!

Winners of last month’s quiz and a copy of Practical Tools for Continuous Improvement: Volume 1 are Barbara Dockery (Ulbrich Precision Flat Wire of Westminster, SC); Ola Okikiolu (Oratech Inc. of South Jordan, UT); and Tim Bumgarner (UPS of Atlanta, GA). Congratulations! For this month’s quiz, and a chance to win a copy of Practical Tools for Continuous Improvement: Volume 1, submit your response by May 31.

Iffy Products and its quality manager, Bjorn Luzer, are in trouble. After Bjorn hired ten inspectors to assure the quality of the company’s products, two have already quit. E. Stiseest and Wes Tiswest left in the middle of their shifts, angry about the demands that Bjorn had placed on them to be on time for work. In addition, Bjorn had been forced to fire two others, Hal Zangels and Dee Mented, when he found them sound asleep behind the production line twice. “I just don’t know why we can’t attract qualified employees,” Bjorn Luzer groused, forgetting for a moment that he had absolutely no qualifications for his own job.

The four remaining quality inspectors are working overtime to be sure that every single product will be adequately inspected. In the midst of this frenetic activity, Bjorn has been informed that a customer insists that Iffy provide SPC data for the shafts that the company manufactures, complaining that the part number on the shaft is unreadable or has been truncated. Instead of training his inspectors to apply SPC to the parts rather than relying only on their own visual inspection, Bjorn realizes that he can demonstrate his statistical prowess and solve the problem himself.

Bjorn mentions to his boss that he can produce a p-chart, since this situation demands attributes charting. Remembering that samples should be taken each hour, day, or shift (or whatever period seems appropriate), and that the sample size should remain constant for each of these samples, he can hardly wait to explain to his enterprising group of inspectors how to calculate control limits. This will really wow his boss:


As his boss, Rock de Bote, observes the session, Bjorn Luzer explains all of this to his remaining inspectors, who listen with less-than-rapt attention. When Carla Main asks “How do we tell a good one from a bad one?”, Rock deBote says, “Why don’t you explain operational definitions, Bjorn?” Since Bjorn had skipped the chapter in his statistics book relating to operational definitions, he was at a loss to answer, so he said, “Oh they can look that up in the work rules section of the company handbook.”

Was Bjorn Luzer correct in this response, or should he have responded in another way?

Click on the answer that is the most nearly correct statement about operational definition, which:

A) is, when applied to data definition, a clear, concise, detailed definition of a measure;

B) is a definition of the operation that calculates sample size;

C) represents the operation of determining which statistical process to use in a given situation;

D) is actually a function of work rules in the operation of the organization.

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