Pareto Chart

Posts tagged "Pareto Chart"

Why Are People Using Line and Bar Charts, not Control Charts?

If you look at improvement project posters at quality conferences around the country, you’ll find that almost everyone is using Excel line and bar charts. Even after decades of Six Sigma training and association membership. What’s the hold up? Here’s my take:

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

“Every year I look at lots of improvement posters and I keep wondering, “Why isn’t anyone using the tools of Quality?” Control charts, Pareto charts, histograms… Most of them are just using plain old Excel line and bar charts. Now it might be because they don’t know about the power and beauty and how easy it can be now to do Control charts, Pareto charts and fishbones.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Improvement Insights.

U.S. Deaths by Age Group as of 4/24/2020

People over age 55 account for 92% of COVID-19 Deaths (data from CDC). Sweden is using similar data to leave the country open for most citizens while asking seniors to stay at home. How do we reopen the economy? Self-quarantine seniors; let everyone else get back to work.

Here’s the 2019-2020 Influenza (i.e., Flu) deaths. Again, seniors are 83.5% of deaths. The flu death rate is about 1 per 1,000. COVID-19 death rate is 1-2 per 100, perhaps lower in people under the age of 55 and higher for those over age 55.

Countermeasure: Self-quarantining seniors will help flatten the curve and prevent overwhelming healthcare.

Posted by Jay Arthur in healthcare, Jay Arthur Blog, QI Macros.

Excel Column Charts Hide The Signal in Noise

The July/August 2017 HealthLeaders magazine had a series of charts about the impact of Adverse Events. In general, the magazine used column charts:

But wouldn’t a Pareto chart illuminate the important adverse events more clearly? The first three accounted for over 57% of 2013 deaths.

Posted by Jay Arthur in Excel, QI Macros, Six Sigma.

How to Craft an Improvement Story

In 1975, I went to work at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. I was introduced to Unix and the Shell programming language. The cool thing about Shell was the hundreds of tools that each did simple things and could be cobbled together into scripts that would do amazingly complex things. I later wrote a book, Unix Shell Programming, that described my love affair with Shell.

Fast forward 20 years and I brought the same thinking that I’d learned from Unix Shell to Six Sigma. The QI Macros have hundreds of templates filled with a variety of worksheets to do many things.

Posted by Jay Arthur in QI Macros, Six Sigma.

Data Visualizations that Really Work

The June, 2016 HRB article by Scott Berinato examines how to use charts and diagrams to express ideas and statistics. I agree with Anmol Garg, Tesla data scientist quoted in the article, “You can’t find anything looking at spreadsheets and querying databases. It has to be visual.”

Bernato says: “Convenient is a tempting replacement for good, but it will lead to charts that are merely adequate or, worse, ineffective.” He separates visualizations into four components: idea generation, idea illustration, visual discovery and everyday dataviz. Simple line, bar and pie charts are great for idea generation and illustration, but terrible for visual discovery and dataviz.

Posted by Jay Arthur in QI Macros, Six Sigma, Statistics.


I first learned how to draw Pareto charts by hand using engineering paper if you can believe it. Our trainers were very specific about how they were to be drawn. One of the earliest references I can find is Kaoru Ishikawa’s Guide to Quality Control. Here’s the correct way to draw a Pareto chart using data from Ishikawa’s book:

Pareto Chart of Defect Data from Ishikawa's Guide to Quality Control
The bars should be touching and the cumulative percentage line should go from corner to corner of the first bar.

Unfortunately, most Pareto charts drawn by computer look like the following one, bars not touching and cumulative line running out of the center of the top of the first bar.

Posted by Jay Arthur in QI Macros, Six Sigma.

IHI 2015 Poster Use of Quality Tools

In his speech Sunday at IHI, Don Berwick called for everyone to “recommit to improvement science” (step 5 in ERA 3 of healthcare transformation).

He sounded annoyed with the lack of use of Lean Six Sigma tools and methodologies.

I understand his frustration. I was there in 2006 when he asked everyone to “pledge allegiance to science and evidence.”

Over the years, I’ve done a stroke tally of the quality tools used in IHI poster presentations.

I gave each poster one checkmark for each type of tool used.


Sadly, even with all of the emphasis on control charts, Pareto charts and other tools of quality, they are used rarely in poster presentations.

Posted by Jay Arthur in healthcare, QI Macros, Six Sigma.

Deaths by Power Source Data

Seth Godin’s blog brought this data to my attention:

There’s lots of ways to display it, but I thought it would be fun to look at as Pareto charts.

Deaths from nuclear power are small compared to the power produced. Coal and oil are still the heavy hitters in the mortality department.

Posted by Jay Arthur in QI Macros.

QI Macros Pareto Chart Video

Use a pareto chart to help focus your efforts. While its hard to create a pareto chart in native Excel , its easy to create a pareto chart in Excel using the QI Macros. Watch now.

Posted by Jay Arthur in QI Macros.