15Stability Analysis of Dysfunctional Processes

The stability analysis of industrial processes may begin with Walter Shewhart’s (1931a) Economic Control of Quality of Manufactured Product. Dr. Shewhart was a physicist at Bell Labs, concerned with reducing variation in the process of manufacturing to improve the quality of communication equipment made by Western Electric. Although the objective was to reduce the occurrence of nonconforming product, Shewhart was a systems thinker and approached the matter believing that the way to assure an improved product is to improve the process that makes the product.

Since the time of Shewhart, most research efforts have focused on improving the performance of functional systems. A cursory tour of the Internet offers hundreds of such papers in the areas of software, chemical processes, education, manufacturing, and business, to name a few. The Toyota Production System and Lean Six Sigma are examples of entire methodologies oriented to continual improvement of stable and capable systems. However, the focus of this book is on large systems that are unstable and incapable. The approach has broad application, for a system ...

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