"Plotting measurements over time turns out, in my view, to be one of the most powerful devices we have for systemic learning...
"Several important things happen when you plot data over time.
"[Y]ou have to ask what data to plot. In the exploration of the answer you begin to clarify aims, and also to see the system from a wider viewpoint. Where are the data? What do they mean? To whom? Who should see them? Why? These are questions that integrate and clarify aims and systems all at once...
"So convinced am I of the power of this principle of tracking over time that I would suggest this: If you follow only one piece of advice from this lecture when you get home, pick a measurement you care about and begin to plot it regularly over time. You won't be sorry."
- Dr. Donald Berwick, from his 1995 IHI Forum plenary speech "Run to Space" (In my opinion, one of his absolute best, which could have been given yesterday)
"Control Charts! They make the blind hear and the deaf see!"
The purpose isn't to have charts. The purpose is to use the charts.
Armed with your new QBQ! mindset and more acute awareness of demotivators, you are now ready for "the rubber to meet the road" as you tackle the 22nd demotivator: poor routine everyday use of
organizational data, i.e., data INsanity. Dean Spitzer agrees with me that it should be added to his list as well as to the shorter list of the six most serious.
Recently, I’m seeing far too many control charts being inappropriately used as naïve attempts to interpret the mountains of questionable COVID-19 data being produced (I’ve done a few out of curiosity, but none I feel worth sharing). With control charts getting overexposed as a panacea, a rising tide of what Dr. Donald Wheeler has called “superstitious nonsense” is so vividly demonstrating Bob Emiliani's wisdom: Dilution widens acceptance. Acceptance
Dr. Wheeler also says: So while the process behavior chart [Individuals control chart] may be the Swiss army knife of statistical techniques, there are times when we need to leave the knife in our pocket, plot the data, and then listen to them as they tell their story.
I thought it was far past time for a review of some BASIC control chart concepts. My 23 May LinkedIn post (your reading assignment for the week) received a lot of traffic and favorable comments (it also allowed me to once again
demonstrate the uselessness of trend lines on most data).
- Your "rubber hits the road" assignment: Plot a "number that makes people 'perspire' " with the ultimate goal of evolving to data sanity for a routine meeting such as this
A Resource for You
Several years ago, I was asked to make some public domain instructional videos for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid National Learning & Action Network Series.
The links below will take you to Y o u t u b e, which I know some organizations block.
[To make them functional, copy and paste, substituting: y**t*be (dot) = "youtube."]
https://www.y**t*be (dot) com/watch?v=kW9obLC-3YU&list=PL8A2OpniaYn7IayqKCWCMo96ZL-AC3yxr&index=4
https://www.y**t*be (dot) com/watch?v=-Uo3qQWMj54&list=PL8A2OpniaYn7IayqKCWCMo96ZL-AC3yxr&index=1&t=6s
These go far beyond tool mechanics to give you a deeper understanding of context.
Postscript to Berwick's 1995 "Run to Space" address
During Berwick's outstanding 1995 talk, he also outlined six ideas "that represent for me appropriate foundations of design for the era of change that will be responsive to the new context of care":
- Reduce waste in all of its forms
- Study and apply the principle of continuous flow
- Reduce demand
- Plot measurements related to aims over time
- Match capacity to demand
So where are we...25 years later? Isn't it finally "the right time" to:
- Be accountable in your role
- Be empathetic in your role
- Grow in competence to gain respect and not be perceived as a "qualicrat"
- Plot data over time
- Develop the post-"silly meeting" behavior of getting results quietly, behind the scenes, and without fanfare
I'm always here as an ally.
With warm regards, best wishes, and gratitude for your readership,
- Data Sanity was designed to create dialogue between executives and improvement practitioners while simultaneously creating a common organizational language for everyone – to embed “improvement” into leadership and organizational DNA. [eBook also available]
(Run & control charts are thoroughly covered in Chapter 6)
(Here is a review by my respected colleague Rip Stauffer)
- A very valuable adjunct resource: I have shared the outstanding, easy-to-use run and control chart macro BPChart with over a thousand of you over the years. Its developer, my respected colleague Mike Mercer, has now made it available as a commercial product. Given the current prices of software, it is a steal! (I want to make it clear that I have no commercial interest)
- Click here for more information, contact Mike via e-mail or through his web site, and he will get the ball rolling (great guy!): Mike@MercerQualityConsulting.com
- I have a simplified tutorial that I would be delighted to share with you (contact me) -- it teaches the "20 percent of BPChart that will solve 80 percent of your problems."
Transforming organizations by creating transformed colleagues