1. Graphing Marathon Measures # 3 – Scatter Diagram

    December 24, 2011 by


    Following on from  the last post by Adam’s Stoehr (Excellence Canada Vice President) where he explained how to use the Run chart  by tracking his weight loss, this time Adam writes about scatter diagrams and how to use them including some tips and rules.

    Graphing Marathon Measures #3 – Scatter Diagram

    Adam Stoehr

    A Scatter-brain usually refers to a person who makes no sense, who doesn’t employ logic, and who takes irrational approaches toward problem solving. A Scatter-diagram has a similar name but it’s used to do pretty much the exact opposite in understanding relationships between numbers. It’s used to make lots of sense of data, it’s used to employ logic, and it’s used to make rational approaches toward problem solving.

    One strategy I’ve been using lately to be less of a scatter-brain is to go for as many runs as possible.  I just ran in my second half-marathon this past weekend and it was an amazing time to think and focus. Sometimes I come up with my most important ideas while I’m running around my neighborhood with my music blaring. In this article I’ll use some of my marathon training data to explain a very useful chart called a scatter diagram.

    Half Marathon Finish

    Before we draw some graphs, let’s set some general ground rules for chart creation.

    Rule 1: Make sure you have a clear purpose for your graph and that it will convey an important message.
    Rule 2: Try to use simple pictures to depict complex data.
    Rule 3: Try to make your data talk and tell interesting stories.
    Rule 4: Remember to adapt your graph to suit the audience.
    Rule 5: Don’t be afraid to experiment with various options and graph styles.

    A Scatter Diagram is used to show whether or not a relationship exists between two variables. Scatter diagrams display what happens to one variable when another one changes. The pattern of plots (sometimes scattered) on the diagram suggests the possible relationship.

    Figure 1: 100% relationship
    In Figure 1 we see a very strong relationship between my Body Mass Index (BMI) and my Weight in pounds. I can say that because the points are not scattered at all. They are tight and linear from the bottom left to the top right. I chose this example because I wanted to show what a perfect relationship between data should look like. As my weight goes up my BMI also goes up. This is however not a ground breaking revelation. Those of you who know how BMI is calculated understand that BMI is a function of weight and height. Since my height is fixed my weight is the only variable that affects my BMI.  Hence the perfect relationship.

    Figure 2: More common scatter
    In figure 2 I’m analyzing the relationship between my weight in pounds and my body fat %. This relationship is positively correlated (because generally as one goes up so does the other) but still scattered (because the point don’t climb in a perfect line).  This would be a more common outcome for a scatter diagram in the workplace. Based on an output like this you could conclude that a relationship seems to exist.

    To draw a scatter diagram you need at least 20 “paired variables” which basically means you need 3 pieces of information about the 20 dots on the chart.  You need the first variable like weight in figure 2, a second variable like body fat in figure 2, and something that pairs the two variables together like the date in figure 2.  Each single dot on the chart represents a point in time for both weight and body fat.  If I was hand drawing this chart I ask myself what was my weight on September 30, and what was my body fat on September 30.  My weight on that day was 210 pounds and my body fat was 24%, I look at the Y axis (the one on the left) and find 210 pounds then I look at the X axis and find 24% and draw a dot in the spot that lines up with those 2 measures. I use this exact method at least 20 times for all the data and I end up with my scatter diagram.

    You use a scatter diagram whenever you need to study and identify the possible relationship between two different sets of variables. In figure 3 we are looking at the relationship between weight loss and number of km’s run in the previous month.


    This is referred to as an inverse relationship because as the monthly KM’s goes up the monthly weight goes down.  The relationship is not as “tight” as figures 1 and 2 but there still seems to be something tying these two things together.  

    It’s important that I point out that I’m not saying that any of these relationships are “cause and effect” relationships. Looking at scatter diagrams alone we can never make this claim. To understand cause and effect relationships more work and tools are required. Scatter diagrams show relationship, not cause.

    At the end of the day you want the charts to tell stories. For example looking at the three charts we can make the following fact based statements.

    Figure 1: There is a very strong positive relationship between my BMI and my weight.  As my weight goes up, so does my BMI.
    Figure 2: There is a relationship between my weight and my body fat. Generally as my weight goes up my body fat also goes up.
    Figure 3: There seems to be an inverse relationship between the number of KM’s I run and the number of pounds I lose. If I run more km’s I seem to lose more weight in the next month.

    Common uses for scatter diagrams:

    • Relationship between customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction
    • Relationship between turnaround time and volume of work
    • Relationship between employee engagement and commitment to quality
    • Relationship between anything and anything…

    Adam Stoehr, MBA


  2. World Quality Day & QPSP Annual Quality Awards 2011

    December 22, 2011 by
    World Quality Day & QPSP Annual Quality Awards 2011

    World Quality Day was celebrated throughout the world in November 2011. This day has become a symbol for the nations across the world to focus and promote Quality Improvements in all sectors of society. The key international promoters of the day include American Society for Quality, Chartered Quality Institute UK, European Foundation for Quality Management, Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers, Asian Network for Quality and Middle East Quality Association. Quality and Productivity Society of Pakistan, an effective association of Managers and Professionals of Pakistan, has also commemorated the Quality Month with its 2nd Quality Award ceremonies at Lahore and Karachi cities of Pakistan. QPSP is an affiliate of Asian Network for Quality (ANQ), Asia Pacific Quality Organization and Middle East Quality Association (MEQA).

    Quality & Productivity Society of Pakistan arranged Public Awareness Seminars, Forums and Discussion sessions during the month. Quality Symposiums for Professionals followed by Quality Awards distribution held on 26t h & 29th November 2011 at King Edward Medical University , Lahore and Usman Institute of Technology, Karachi respectively.

    2011 Quality Awards distribution to distinguished Quality Professionals was core category of the event. Award Recipients were selected after a rigorous evaluation process conducted by Award committee comprising on QPSP experts and headed by QPSP Chairman.

    Click here to read the full press release.

  3. BPIR Newsletter – No.6 2011


    Check out our latest BPIR newsletter:

    Click here to view web version!

    Click here to sign up for our newsletters!

  4. World Business Capability Congress – Call for Papers

    December 14, 2011 by
    Conference Auckland


    This is your invitation to come and see one of the most beautiful countries in the world and learn, share and network with your peers from all around the globe at the same time!

    Next year in December New Zealand will host a premier business improvement-orientated congress. New Zealand Organisation for Quality (NZOQ) and Centre for Organisational Excellence Research (COER) are organising the World Business Capability Congress Incorporating the 27th NZOQ Conference, 7th International Benchmarking Conference and New Zealand Business Excellence Awards in Auckland.

    The main theme of the congress is “Driving Excellence> Innovation> Productivity> Export Growth” and in line with that theme the conference organising committee is seeking contributions from organisations and individuals about Developing Business Capability, Leadership, Strategy, Customer and Market Focus, Measurement, Analysis and Knowledge Management, Human Resource Focus, and Process Management. The best papers will be considered for the Best Paper Award, and fast-tracked for publication in one of the local or international journals.

    Abstracts for papers will be due by 1st of April 2012 and the early registration deadline will be 1 July 2012. The congress website is available at WorldBusinessCapabilityCongress.com and more details on abstract submission and registration is posted there, please visit the website periodically as it evolves and more details become available, also you can also download the congress flyer from here .

    The World Business Capability Congress 2012 is a not to be missed event, make sure you include this conference in your diary and travel plans for 2012.

    Ahmed Abbas

  5. Four Organizations Win 2011 Baldrige National Quality Award

    November 24, 2011 by

    Baldrige Award 2011 Winners

    U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson today named four organizations -three health care operations and one nonprofit business- as recipients of the 2011 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership. This marks the first year that three health care organizations have been selected at one time.
    The winning recipients -listed with their category- are:
    • Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, Mo. (nonprofit)
    • Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Mich. (health care)
    • Schneck Medical Center, Seymour, Ind. (health care)
    • Southcentral Foundation, Anchorage, Alaska (health care)
    The 2011 Baldrige Award recipients were selected from a field of 69 applicants. All of the applicants were evaluated rigorously by an independent board of examiners in seven areas defined by the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results.

    The award is managed as part of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP) by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in cooperation with the private sector Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

    A forthcoming economic study prepared for BPEP documents the practical benefits of the Baldrige program. Of the 273 Baldrige Award applicants since 2006, the study finds, the benefits to these organizations on three levels -cost savings, customer satisfaction and financial gain- outweighed the overall cost of the BPEP by a ratio of 1,252-to-1.

    Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987 to enhance the competitiveness and performance of U.S. businesses. Originally, three types of organizations were eligible: manufacturers, service companies and small businesses. Congress expanded the program in 1999 to include education and health care organizations, and again in 2007 to include nonprofit organizations such as charities, trade and professional associations, and government agencies. The award promotes excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the achievements and results of U.S. organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies.

    For more details, see the Nov. 22, 2011 news announcement, “Four U.S. Organizations Honored with the 2011 Baldrige National Quality Award” at www.nist.gov/baldrige/baldrige_recipients2011.cfm. For more information on the BPEP, go to www.nist.gov/baldrige.