Oh, the perils of mastering Six Sigma

I'm not saying that the following apply to you... really. But, you might be a Black Belt if...

  • You test your co-workers for normality – and find some of them to be non-normal and a little skewed…
  • …and you know you can handle non-normal co-workers if you can just transform them
  • You recall that Anderson-Darling (the youngest brother of Wendy, Michael, and John) did not go to Neverland, being firmly rooted in normalcy
  • You used forced pairwise consensus ranking to name your kids (I so totally did this)
  • You keep giving homework to your kid’s math teachers (guilty here too)
  • You get into arguments with people doing telephone surveys about the validity of their sampling and survey question construction
  • You “strongly agree” that you would never take the average or standard deviation of ordinal or nominal data, like the Likert scale
  • Your mixing spoons are traced and hung up on pegboards—a place for everything and everything is in its place
  • You know that correlation is not causation, even though you still can’t say it without sounding snooty
  • When someone says, “DOE” you think of “experimental design” instead of the “Department of Energy”
  • You know that quality is defined as the “reduction of variability around a customer-defined target”* and not “What the heck, it’s in spec”
  • You know that define, analyze, improve, control is a good template to follow when faced with a problem with no known solution, albeit inefficient if a strategy to fix the problem is known
  • You know that low-hanging fruit is good, but that to reach the higher, sweeter fruit you have to use some advanced techniques*
  • You know when to use a team…and when not to
  • You get it (even if you don’t think it’s funny) when someone tells you that Bobby Brown invented the “Mann-Whitney U look good” test
  • You know that Kolmogorov-Smirnov is not a brand of vodka*
  • You know that the median test is not used to determine if a driver is intoxicated
  • You know that the runs test is not related to a bad burrito
  • You know that rather than focusing on quality, which may result in improving profitability, you should focus on profitability, which might lead to improvements in quality*
  • You know that showing financial results are critical
  • You know that if a product or service loses you money, you can’t make it up in volume*
  • You recognize that most businesses have a high percentage of their revenue come from customers* and so there is a reason to investigate and understand what they value
  • You know the link between the t-test and Guinness stout
  • You teach the 5S’s, yet make very sure none of your students see your garage
  • You wince every time someone mentions that odious Disraeli quote about lies and damned lies
  • You step on the punch line of that quote and yell out, “..and people who misuse statistics.”
  • You know that there are three types of quality, and that without design, conformance, and process management quality, your business is in danger
  • You know that a company that executes an OK plan very well wins over a company that poorly executes a great plan
  • You know that, while driving fear into an organization can be fun and entertaining, it tends to result in poor performance and lost money†
  • You know that about 90 percent of the problems in a process are not due to the workers in the process, but due to the managers who manage the process†
  • You know that special causes, left unattended, become common to the processes†
  • You ask your kids, “Why?” five times when they are past curfew
  • You know that Weibulls wobble, but they don’t fall down*
  • You look honestly confused when, after telling someone that you are a Black Belt, they start talking about how they always wanted to take karate
  • You ask the salesperson about alpha and beta error when buying a pregnancy test
  • You see opportunities for experimental design in the boudoir (“Now honey, you have to admit that was statistically significant!”)
  • You know that statistical significance can be way different than practical importance*
  • You have an SPC chart on your bedside table (“See honey, I am in control.”)
  • You know that being in statistical control is not necessarily the same as giving your customers what they want*

And a bonus section

You might be a Master Black Belt if…

  • You know that just because a project would have benefits, it is not necessarily the most beneficial project you can work on*
  • You know that a company working solely on eliminating dissatisfaction is not working on increasing customer delight‡
  • You know that increasing production speed on a process that loses you money with every unit might just lose you more money faster*
  • You know that there are pearls of wisdom everywhere—maybe even in a silly “You might be a…” list.


*Derived from something my former boss and colleague Dr. J. Luftig said
†Derived from something his colleague, Dr. W.E. Deming said
‡Derived from something Dr. J. Juran said
All the rest, I take full blame for.  Hope you enjoyed them.  Please feel free to add more in the comments section!