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What’s the value of piece of mind?

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A Story: Cost vs. Value

A friend of mine was helping his son move out of the house and across the country this past weekend. As most 20 year olds do, his son “had it all figured out” and had “taken care of all the details”. “Don’t worry about it Dad, I’m an adult and can take care of myself,” he said.  

value

At one point in the move, my friend needed to move the U-Haul his son had rented for the move. After tossing him the keys, his son said, “Be real careful with it Dad. I didn’t buy the insurance.” My friend asked why he didn’t buy the insurance. The response was fairly predictable, coming from a 20 something who thinks he’s going to live forever: “I didn’t want to the spend $14 to insure the vehicle. I figured if I’m just really careful, I won’t have to pay the money for the insurance and everything will be ok.”

My friend’s response was also predictable, coming from man with 55+ years of experience in the randomness and unpredictability of life: “I see. So you just figured $14 was too much to pay to protect the vehicle and that you’d rather just pay the whole $45,000 to replace the vehicle if something goes wrong, right?”

The Lesson

There are several lessons here. The first has to do with the wisdom that comes with age and the hubris of youth. To wit, Mark Twain once said:

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

But another deeper lesson is here as well, and it has to do with cost vs. value. Too often, people look at the cost of doing something vs. doing nothing as a cost that doesn’t need to be incurred because it’s not something they’re currently spending money on.

Those of us who have the benefit of wisdom that comes with age know that while cost is something to be considered, the value is often more important. Any fool can look at the cost of paying $14 for insurance vs. not paying for the insurance and see that in the present, it’s better to spend $0 than to spend $14.

A wise person looks to the future though and sees what that $14 is buying: insurance. Protection. Piece of mind.

What this means to us

In the manufacturing world, a certain degree of variation always exists. This is why we do what we do. We give companies of all sizes and in all industries the tools to know, in real-time, the where, what, when, why, and how much when it comes to variance. We help you figure out what could be improved with your processes to reduce your costs and ultimately your risk.  The essence of SPC is probability—bringing a greater degree of certainty to an uncertain world.

Is there a cost to these tools? Yes, although it’s probably less than you would think. Are these tools valuable? 5,000 companies think so. So there’s only one question that really matters when we’re talking about cost vs. value:

What is the value of piece of mind to you?

A Look in the Mirror: Robust SPC Software

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Robustness

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Along with our users, we tout the benefits of SPC software.  We wrote the book on the core concepts of variation and how to observe it in real-time.  The idea of anticipating variation in products and processes, known as robustness, exists as an additional path to minimizing variation.  But that got us to thinking.  How have we as a software company – that helps others measure and act on variation  – developed a robust software ourselves? Read more

Common Cause vs. Special Cause of Variation

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Common Cause vs. Special Cause

Common Causes vs. Special Causes of Variance

Credit: Flickr: a2gemma

It’s really not nice to always blame the humans.  We deserve some of the credit, both good and bad, but not all.  Have you heard of the source of variance being referred to as common cause vs. special cause?

Today we explore how to assign causes of variation in order to track error and be proactive.

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Can You Make Two Things EXACTLY Alike?

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Bus Wheel

Credit: flickr: Particularly Everything

If you’ve been following this series (we know you have) you’ll know that we’ve built a strong foundation as we explore some of the foundational concepts of quality and statistical process control or SPC.  We now know just what the word quality means and that it is subjective.  Then we worked on how the customer’s definition of quality, can be simplified and how that definition may not always intuitively influence the the customer’s buying choice.

This week we’ll learn about variation and controlling variability.

Read more