The following is a brief glossary of common terms used in
quality or management.
Cause & Effect
Cost of poor
Cost of quality
Count chart (c
DOE (Design of
Percent chart (p
Range chart (R
standard deviation chart (s chart)
Seven tools of
Type I error
Type II error
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
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
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
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
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
An error in construction of a product or service that renders
it unusable; an error that causes a product or service to not
Alternate name for the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, a four-stage
approach to problem-solving. It is also sometimes called the
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
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
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
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
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'
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,
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
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
The most frequently occurring value in a group of
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
A control chart indicating the number of defective units in a
A way of thinking about a given subject that defines how one
views events, relationships, ideas, etc. within the boundaries of
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Team member who keeps track of time spent on each agenda item
during team meetings. This job can easily be rotated among team
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
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
Change in the output or result of a process. Variation can be
caused by common causes, special causes, tampering, or structural
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