Statisticians Using Bar Charts

Improvement Insights Blog

Statisticians Using Bar Charts

A statistician using a bar chart is like a surgeon using a butter knife. Here’s why:

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

“I was recently perusing the American Statistical Association’s magazine, and they had some posters that were done by kids in K through 12. This one was an analysis of what kind of charts and graphs are used in poster presentations at statistical conferences. They found that more often than not, the winners had bar charts, and that bar charts were very popular because of their simplicity.

“I want you to get this concept in your skull: I think that a statistician using a bar chart is like a surgeon using a butter knife. There are smarter charts out there. Smarter charts that can tell you more about things: control charts, Pareto charts, histograms… I mean there’s a lot of stuff.

“Now, they did say that since 2019 they’ve seen a few more complicated charts coming in, but still the winners got bar charts. They also found that less and less [area] of the poster was taken up by text and more by charts. I think you can tell an entire improvement story with charts and a fishbone. I mean it’s not that hard and it’s not that complicated. I teach you how in my Yellow Belt training.

“So that’s my Improvement Insight for this week: Let’s start using these smart performance charts and make better posters. Use a scalpel, not a butter knife. Let’s create a hassle-free America; hassle-free healthcare.

“Let’s go out and improve something this week.”