Data in everyday life: Tie-breaker–March Method or Madness?

Beth SavageI just completed my NCAA tournament bracket. In the unlikely event that I would tie another entrant for the win (I’m usually out of the running by the Sweet 16 round), I need to pick a number for the total points scored by both teams in the final game.

Scores start swimming in my head. Will this year’s final be a high-scoring game like the 1990 finals when UNLV shot 61% in their 103-73 win over Duke? That game netted 17 more points than the previous year’s overtime championship. Or will defense prevail as it did in the 2011 battle between Connecticut and Butler? Three teams in the history of the tournament have scored more points on their own than the 94 total points scored by both teams in that matchup.

What is an average tournament point total? To answer that question, I plotted the score totals on the following SQCpack individuals and moving range chart.

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Are you bluffing quality?

Beth SavageBluffing in poker, if used wisely, can increase your chances of winning. Bluff too much though, and your opponents are on to you. Bluffing quality isn’t so different. Whimsical changes decreed from the top in the form of new quality teams, control charts displayed on large screens, and new buzzwords for everyone to learn might present a confident quality front to customers, employees, and auditors at first. These tactics might even, in some cases, result in improvements and cost savings.

At some point, though, your customers, employees, and other stakeholders will catch on. Unless significant changes in the way the organization operates are made, the gains will eventually slow to a crawl or stall completely. Why? Because the decrees at best temporarily change behavior, but the organization that created the quality issues remains fundamentally the same. When the “heat and light” that was used to alter the behavior is removed, the organization reverts to its former behaviors.

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Data in everyday life: Presidential voter turnout

Beth SavageLast month we looked at a control chart of voter turnout percentages since 1960, the first year that all 50 states voted in a US presidential election.

Last month’s chart demonstrated that the percentage of those eligible to vote in the US who actually vote in presidential elections has averaged less than 60%. According to Pew Research Center, that is lower than most established democracies. What were voter turnout percentages the first half of the century? Would you expect that they were higher or lower than recent elections? Or, do you think voter turnout has been a stable process for a century? Here’s a control chart based on data from the last 25 presidential elections.

What is your prediction for the voter turnout rate of the 2016 election?

Data in everyday life: Voting

Beth SavageAmerican citizens who are 18 years or older have the right to vote in US general elections. However, it is the voter’s choice whether or not to exercise that right. This is in contrast to countries where voting is compulsory. In Australia, for example, under federal electoral law, all eligible citizens are required to vote in federal elections or pay a $20 penalty. Australia’s voter turnout percentages top 80%.

So what are the voter turnout percentages in the US? Does the voter turnout process exhibit normal or special cause variation? Let’s look at a control chart of voter turnout rates since 1960 (which was the first year that all 50 states were eligible to vote in the presidential election) to find the answers. Does it give any insight to what our 2016 election holds?

The Masters: A stable or unstable tradition?

Beth SavageThe 2016 Masters Tournament is in the history books. Jordan Spieth had what some are calling an epic meltdown on the final 9 holes of the tournament and, in a come-from-behind victory, Danny Willett earned the green jacket. The tournament is touted as a tradition unlike any other.™  Edge-of-your seat drama aside, does this tradition actually represent a stable process?

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