The following is a brief glossary of common terms used in quality or management.
A tool used to organize ideas, usually generated through brainstorming, into groups of related thoughts. The emphasis is on a pre-rational, gut-fell sort of grouping, often done by the members of the group with little or no talking. Also known as the KJ method after its creator, Kawakita Jiro.
Data that is counted in discrete units such as dollars, hours, items, and yes/no options. The alternative to attributes data is variables data, which is data that is measured on a continuous and infinite scale such as temperature or distance. Charts that use attribute data include bar charts, pie charts, Pareto charts and some control charts.
A product or service's ability to perform its intended function at a given time and under appropriate conditions. It can be expressed by the ratio operative time/total time where operative time is the time that it is functioning or ready to function.
A control chart in which the average of the subgroup, represented by the X-bar, is to determine the stability or lack thereof in the process. Average charts are usually paired with range charts or sample standard deviation charts for complete analysis.
A chart that compares different groups of data to each other through the use of bars that represent each group. Bar charts can be simple, in which each group of data consists of a single type of data, or grouped or stacked, in which the groups of data are broken down into internal categories.
A technique that involves comparing one's own processes to excellent examples of similar processes in other organizations or departments. Through benchmarking, rapid learning can occur, and processes can undergo dramatic improvements.
A tool used to encourage creative thinking and new ideas. A group formulates and records as many ideas as possible concerning a certain subject, regardless of the content of the ideas. No discussion, evaluation, or criticism of ideas is allowed until the brainstorming session is complete.
A management technique which emphasizes the development of new, radical approaches to traditional constraints, as opposed to incremental or minor changes in thought that build on the original approach.
A management method which stresses the fundamental rethinking of processes, questioning all assumptions, in an effort to streamline organizations, and to focus on adding value in core processes.
Medical procedure for a particular diagnosis in a diagrammatic form that includes key decision points used to coordinate care and instruct patient.
A tool used to analyze all factors (causes) that contribute to a given situation or occurrence (effect) by breaking down main causes into smaller and smaller sub-causes. It is also known as the Ishikawa or the fishbone diagram.
A customized form used to record data. Usually, it is used to record how often some activity occurs.
A list of important steps that must take place in a process or any other activity. A list of things to do.
A general term for statements of accepted medical procedure for a particular diagnosis.
Inherent causes of variation in a process. They are typical of the process, not unexpected. That is not to say that they must be tolerated; on the contrary, once special causes of variation are largely removed, a focus on removing common causes of variation can pay big dividends.
Meeting requirements or specifications.
On-going improvement of any and all aspects of an organization including products, services, communications, environment, functions, individual processes, etc.
A chart that indicates upper and lower statistical control limits, and an average line, for samples or subgroups of a given process. If all points on the control chart are within the limits, variation may be ascribed to common causes and the process is deemed to be "in control." If points fall outside the limits, it is an indication that special causes of variation are occurring, and the process is said to be "out of control."
A statistically-determined line on a control chart used to analyze variation within a process. If variation exceeds the control limits, then the process is being affected by special causes and is said to be "out of control." A control limit is not the same as a specification limit.
The costs incurred by producing products or services of poor quality. These costs usually include the cost of inspection, rework, duplicate work, scrapping rejects, replacements and refunds, complaints, and loss of customers and reputation.
Philip Crosby's term for the cost of poor quality.
An attributes data control chart that evaluates process stability by charting the counts of occurrences of a given event in successive samples.
A control chart that evaluates process stability by charting the number of occurrences of a given event per unit sampled, in a series of samples.
Commonly used process capability index defined as [USL (upper spec limit) - LSL (lower spec limit)] / [6 x sigma], where sigma is the estimated process standard deviation.
Commonly used process capability index defined as the lesser of USL - m / 3sigma or m - LSL / 3sigma, where sigma is the estimated process standard deviation.
One of the quality guru's. Crosby founded several consulting agencies including Career IV, Philip Crosby Associates, and the Quality College. He has authored several books including Quality Is Free and Quality Without Tears. Crosby is well-known for his theory of "zero defects."
Control chart that shows the cumulative sum of deviations from a set value in successive samples. Each plotted point indicates the algebraic sum of the last point and all deviations since. PathMaker does not support cumulative sum charts.
Any recipient of a product or service; anyone who is affected by what one produces. A customer can be external or outside the organization, or they can be internal to the organization.
A tool used to evaluate problems, solutions, or ideas. The possibilities are listed down the left-hand side of the matrix and relevant criteria are listed across the top. Each possibility is then rated on a numeric scale of importance or effectiveness (e.g. on a scale of 1 to 10) for each criterion, and each rating is recorded in the appropriate box. When all ratings are complete, the scores for each possibility are added to determine which has the highest overall rating and thus deserves the greatest attention.
An error in construction of a product or service that renders it unusable; an error that causes a product or service to not meet requirements.
Alternate name for the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, a four-stage approach to problem-solving. It is also sometimes called the Shewhart cycle.
Known as the father of quality control. Deming began his work in quality control in the United States during World War II to aid the war effort. After the war, he went to Japan to help in the rebuilding of their country. His methods of quality control became an integral part of Japanese industry. Deming is a celebrated author and is well-known for his "14 Points" for effective management.
A problem-solving approach in which a problem is investigated by looking first at symptoms, and gradually working back towards root causes. Once root causes have been established, experimentation and tracking are used in the remedial journey - the finding of a cure for the roots of the problem.
DOE is the science of designing sets of experiments which will generate enough useful data to make sound decisions without costing too much or taking too long.
Regular participation of employees in decision-making and suggestions. The driving forces behind increasing the involvement of employees are the conviction that more brains are better, that people in the process know it best, and that involved employees will be more motivated to do what is best for the organization.
Usually refers to giving employees decision-making and problem-solving authority within their jobs.
A person or organization outside your organization who receives the output of a process. Of all external customers, the end-user should be the most important.
A technique that systematically analyzes the types of failures which will be expected as a product is used, and what the effects of each "failure mode" will be.
Person who helps a team with issues of teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. A facilitator should not contribute to the actual content of the team's project, focusing instead as an observer of the team's functioning as a group.
Another name for a cause & effect diagram, derived from the original shape of the diagram as used by its creator, Kaoru Ishikawa.
A graphical representation of a given process delineating each step. It is used to diagram how the process actually functions and where waste, error, and frustration enter the process.
A tool, developed by social psychologist Kurt Lewin, which is used to analyze the opposing forces involved in causing/resisting any change. It is shown in balance sheet format with forces that will help (driving forces) listed on the left and forces that hinder (restraining forces) listed on the right.
An organization of data, usually in a chart, which depicts how often an different events occur. A histogram is one common type of frequency distribution, and a frequency polygon is another.
A bar chart that shows planned work and finished work in relation to time. Each task in a list has a bar corresponding to it. The length of the bar is used to indicate the expected or actual duration of the task.
A specialized bar chart showing the distribution of measurement data. It will pictorially reveal the amount and type of variation within a process.
Japanese term for hoshin planning, a form of interactive strategic planning which aids the flow of information up and down the organizational layers in a systematic, productive way.
A method of strategic planning for quality. It helps executives integrate quality improvement into the organization's long-range plan. According to the GOAL/QPC Health Care Application Research Committee, "Hoshin Planning is a method used to ensure that the mission, vision, goals, and annual objectives of an organization are communicated to and implemented by everyone, from the executive level to the 'front line' level."
Quantitative measure of performance. Indicators are usually ratios comparing the number of occurrences a certain phenomenon and the number of times the phenomenon could have occurred.
Someone within your organization, further downstream in a process, who receives the output of your work.
Another name for the cause & effect diagram, after its inventor, Kaoru Ishikawa.
One of Japan's quality control pioneers. He developed the cause & effect diagram (Ishikawa diagram) in 1943 and published many books addressing quality control. In addition to his work at Kawasaki, Ishikawa was a long-standing member of the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers and an assistant professor at the University of Tokyo.
One of the great quality gurus, and, like Deming, an early student of the work of Walter Shewhart at Western Electric. His work has specialized in linking management to quality engineering. Dr. Juran is the founder of the Juran Institute which has long been the vehicle of his work in quality management and is well-known for espousing "the quality trilogy" of quality planning, quality control, and quality improvement. Juran has authored many books and other works in an effort to spread awareness of quality management ideas and applications.
Training given as needed for immediate application, without lag time and the usual loss of retention.
A Japanese word meaning continuous improvement through constant striving to reach higher standards.
Another name for the affinity diagram, after its inventor, Kawakita Jiro.
The average of a group of measurement values. Mean is determined by dividing the sum of the values by the number of values in the group.
The middle of a group of measurement values when arranged in numerical order. For example, in the group (32, 45, 78, 79, 101), 78 is the median. If the group contains an even number of values, the median is the average of the two middle values.
Metacraftsmanship is a term used to tie together the many ideas shared by quality improvement, reengineering, management, leadership, and customer-driven production. Although these theories have much in common, they are often treated as separate and disparate approaches to improving a business. Metacraftsmanship focuses on overcoming the losses to society which are engendered by specialization, and suggests ways of getting complex organizations to work the way a single craftsman would.
A written declaration of the purpose of an organization or project team. Organizational mission or vision statements often include an organizational vision for the future, goals, and values.
The most frequently occurring value in a group of measurements
In the context of quality management, noise is essentially variability. For example, if you are making ketchup, noise in the process comes from variations in the quality of incoming tomatoes, in changes in ambient temperature and humidity, in variations in machinery performance, in variations in the quality of human factors, etc.
Technique used to encourage creative thinking and new ideas, but is more controlled than brainstorming. Each member of a group writes down his or her ideas and then contributes one to the group pool. All contributed ideas are then discussed and prioritized.
A control chart indicating the number of defective units in a given sample.
A way of thinking about a given subject that defines how one views events, relationships, ideas, etc. within the boundaries of that subject.
A bar chart that orders data from the most frequent to the least frequent, allowing the analyst to determine the most important factor in a given situation or process.
The idea that a few root problems are responsible for the large majority of consequences. The Pareto principle is derived from the work of Vilfredo Pareto, a turn-of-the-century Italian economist who studied the distributions of wealth in different countries. He concluded that a fairly consistent minority, about 20% of people, controlled the large majority, about 80% of a society's wealth. This same distribution has been observed in other areas and has been termed the Pareto principle. It is defined by J.M. Juran as the idea that 80% of all effects are produced by only 20% of the possible causes.
A control chart that determines the stability of a process by finding what percentage of total units in a sample are defective.
A chart that compares groups of data to the whole data set by showing each group as a "slice" of the entire "pie." Pie charts are particularly useful for investigating what percentage each group represents.
A four-step improvement process originally conceived of by Walter A. Shewhart. The first step involves planning for the necessary improvement; the second step is the implementation of the plan; the third step is to check the results of the plan; the last step is to act upon the results of the plan. It is also known as the Shewhart cycle, the Deming cycle, and the PDCA cycle.
Another name for hoshin planning.
Total set of items from which a sample set is taken.
1. A statistical measure indicating the inherent variation for a given event in a stable process, usually defined as the process width divided by 6 sigma.
2. Competence of the process, based on tested performance, to achieve certain results.
Measurement indicating the ability of a process to produce specified results. Cp and Cpk are two process capability indices.
Generally refers to the post-production checks, inspection, or reviews done to ensure quality of a product or service.
An independent investigation and assessment of quality activities and results to determine whether or not the quality plan is effective and appropriate.
1. Quality improvement teams or groups.
2. In Japan, groups of employees formed for the study of and sharing information regarding quality control issues and theory.
The use of techniques and activities that compare actual quality performance with goals and define appropriate action in response to a shortfall.
A systematic approach to the processes of work that looks to remove waste, loss, rework, frustration, etc. in order to make the processes of work more effective, efficient, and appropriate.
A group of employees that take on a project to improve a given process or design a new process within an organization.
A technique used to translate customer requirements into appropriate goals for each stage of product or service development and output. The two approaches to quality function deployment are known as the House of Quality and the Matrix of Matrices.
An algebraic function that illustrates the loss of quality that occurs when a characteristic deviates from its target value. It is expressed often in monetary terms. Dr. Genichi Taguchi coined this term; his work suggests that quality losses vary as the square of the deviation from target.
Control chart in which the range of the subgroup is used to track the instantaneous variation within a process, i.e. the variation in the process at any one time, when many input factors would not have time to vary enough to make a detectable difference. Range charts are usually paired with average charts for complete analysis.
The team member that takes minutes during team meetings to capture team's progress. Once the team is well underway, this role can be rotated through out the group.
A statistical technique used to determine the best mathematical expression to describe the relationship between a response and independent variables.
The probability of a product or service successfully doing its job under given conditions.
The ability of a product or service to function appropriately regardless of external conditions and other uncontrollable factors.
An approach to the planning of new products and services that harnesses Taguchi methods.
Also known as a line chart, or line graph. A chart that plots data over time, allowing you to identify trends and anomalies.
A subset of a population used to represent the population in statistical analysis. Samples are almost always random, which means that all individuals in the population are equally likely to be chosen for the sample.
Control chart in which the standard deviation of the subgroup is tracked to determine the variation within a process over time. Sample standard deviation charts are usually paired with average charts for complete analysis.
A tool that studies the possible relationship between two variables expressed on the x-axis and y-axis of a graph. The direction and density of the points plotted will indicate various relationships or a lack of any relationship between the variables.
Quality improvement tools that include the histogram, Pareto chart, check sheet, control chart, cause-and-effect diagram, flowchart, and scatter diagram.
Another name for the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. It is also sometimes called the Deming cycle.
The father of statistical process control or statistical quality control. He pioneered statistical quality control and improvement methods when he worked for Western Electric and Bell Telephone in the early decades of the 20th century.
Causes of variation in a process that are not inherent in the process itself but originate from circumstances that are out of the ordinary. Special causes are indicated by points that fall outside the limits of a control chart.
An engineering or design requirement that must be met in order to produce a satisfactory product.
Analysis and control of a process through the use of statistical techniques, particularly control charts.
Analysis and control of quality through the use of statistical techniques, essentially the same as SPC.
Variation caused by recurring system-wide changes such as seasonal changes or long-term trends.
Anyone whose output (materials, information, service, etc.) becomes an input to another person or group in a process of work. A supplier can be external or internal to the organization.
Developed a set of practices known as Taguchi Methods, as they are known in the U.S., for improving quality while reducing costs. Taguchi Methods focus on the design of efficient experiments, and the increasing of signal to noise ratios. Dr. Taguchi also articulated the developed the quality loss function. Currently, he is executive director of the American Supplier Institute and director of the Japan Industrial Technology Institute.
Dr. Deming cautions against tampering with systems that are "in control." It is very common for management to react to variation which is in fact normal, thereby starting wild goose chases after sources of problems which don't exist. Tampering with stable processes actually increases variation.
A chart used to break any task, goal, or category into increasingly detailed levels of information. Family trees are the classic example of a tree diagram. In PathMaker, the structure of the tree diagram is identical to that of the cause & effect diagram.
Team member who keeps track of time spent on each agenda item during team meetings. This job can easily be rotated among team members.
Managing for quality in all aspects of an organization focusing on employee participation and customer satisfaction. Often used as a catch-all phrase for implementing various quality control and improvement tools.
Rejecting something that is acceptable. Also known as an alpha error.
Accepting something that should have been rejected. Also known as beta error.
A control chart showing the count of defects per unit in a series of random samples.
Each time work is done to inputs to transform them into something of greater usefulness as an end product.
Data that is measured on a continuous and infinite scale such as temperature, distance, and pressure rather than in discreet units or yes/no options. Variables data is used to create histograms, some control charts, and sometimes run charts.
A measure of deviation from the mean in a sample or population.
Change in the output or result of a process. Variation can be caused by common causes, special causes, tampering, or structural variation.
Often incorporated into an organizational mission (or vision) statement to clarify what the organization hopes to be doing at some point in the future. The vision should act as a guide in choosing courses of action for the organization.
Philip Crosby's recommended performance standard that leaves no doubt regarding the goal of total quality. Crosby's theory holds that people can continually move closer to this goal by committing themselves70 to their work and the improvement process.