Donald J. Wheeler’s picture

By Donald J. Wheeler

As Davis Balestracci frequently emphasized in his column, “RealWorldSPC,” published in Quality Digest for four years, it is fundamental to understand the context of the data before you begin to do any computations. It is the background for your data that determines how you should organize the data, how you should analyze the data, and how you should interpret the results of your analysis. Once you ignore the context, you’re like a train that has gone off the track, with the inevitable result.

One day a company sent me some data that it had spent more than a month collecting. These data represented the results of an experimental study carried out using production batches. For each of 30 batches the company recorded all sorts of production information, along with the experimental conditions that applied to that batch. At the end of the production process it took 40 items from each batch and measured the property of interest. Thus, it had a total to 1,200 values: 40 values for each of the 30 batches.

Quality Digest’s picture

By Quality Digest

Curmudgeonly Customer Service

I often agree with Scott Paton’s columns bemoaning the state of customer service in America (“Customer Service?” “Quality Curmudgeon,” October 2008) Then there are times when something happens that gives you hope. Our 10-year-old daughter has several American Girl dolls. One of these dolls had a problem--her eyelash had come off. However, for a not-inconsequential fee, you can ship your American Girl to the “doll hospital” and have eyes, limbs, and even heads replaced in about two weeks. (I guess this is actual “plastic” surgery.) The doll returns, repaired, in a hospital gown, with a certificate of health and a get-well balloon. So, we sent the doll off from our home near Chicago on Friday, to the doll hospital in Middletown, Wisconsin. We were surprised to discover a doll-shaped box on our doorstep the following Wednesday--implying a stay at the doll hospital of a mere 24 hours. When opened, my daughter found her doll as promised with a new eyelash, in the hospital gown, with balloon and a clean-bill-of-health certificate. My wife and I were shocked to discover an additional item in the box--a letter from American Girl that stated, “You expressed concern that your doll required repair. Upon examining her, we agree with you that American Girl is responsible for these problems.