How Do I Know If I Have Good Data?

Improvement Insights Blog

How Do I Know If I Have Good Data?

Six Sigma beginners get hung up on the question: “Do I have good data?” You never will. Here’s why and what to do about it.

“People are always asking me, “Jay, how do I know if I have good data?” I’m going to tell you what: you don’t. All data is either collected poorly or whatever, and if nobody’s been using it, they collect it even more poorly.

Most data is systematically distorted to make somebody look good. Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to recognize that it’s not going to be the world’s best data, and waiting for the world’s best data will not solve those problems that are waiting for you. All right? So because it’s systematically distorted to make somebody look good, and it was probably collected in the same method all the time, guess what? We can use that to start making improvements. And then, guess what? Once people realize that you’re actually collecting the data correctly, they’ll start doing a better… they’re going to start saying “Oh my gosh they’re using the data, I’d better do it right.” All right? And you’ll get better data. But you’re not going to start with the world’s best data.

“So, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and QI Macros [software]. That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Let’s create a hassle-free America, hassle-free health care. Let’s go out and improve something this week. “