Don't Bend the Data

Improvement Insights Blog

Don’t Bend the Data

Ever noticed that some people would rather bend the data than fix the process? That’s a bad idea. Here’s why:

“I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma for Hospitals” and QI Macros [software].

“I was out at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement conference and I was talking to somebody, and they mentioned that over in Britain they had certain requirements for how you perform in hospitals. One of the hospitals decided to bend the data to match what the NIH wanted. Those managers ended up going to jail.

“Have you ever noticed that some people want to bend the data to look good, not use the data to improve so that everybody looks good? You notice that, I’m sure, right? I’m going to encourage you: Don’t bend the data.

“When I was at the phone company, I was working with the cellular unit and they were trying to keep their subscription numbers up. They invented what they called the ‘Disconnect 30 Plan,’ which meant that if you disconnected, they left you on as a free 30-day user. Now, nobody used it, but it made the numbers look good to make the leadership team happy. Guess what? They bent the data, and that CEO ended up going to jail.

“So I want you to get this idea: Don’t bend the data. Use the data to make improvements. That’s what the data is for.

“That’s my Improvement Insight. Let’s go out and improve something this week.”

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