Quality Progress - October 2017 - 49

opinions. At the heart of the define-measure-reduce-combine-select process2 is the idea to decide on what basis the
choices will be made before starting to make specific choices.
2. Quantify characteristics of choices and share the data.
After a set of criteria has been identified, it's important to
select a (hopefully) quantitative metric that summarizes
each criterion. A good metric is one that matches the intent
of the criterion and for which there are available data.
Remember that establishing the ground rules is all about
making sure people understand what is important to each
person and having some basis for comparing alternatives.
When the team has the same complete set of information,
the focus can shift from disagreements about the facts to
differences in how those facts are interpreted.
So far, this column has not had a direct connection to
statistics. But the quantification of metrics-and driving the
process and discussions toward having a strong data-centric emphasis-not only makes for better decisions, but also
fosters more constructive discussions.
3. Distinguish between "right and wrong" and "different
preferences." This is a most fundamental mistake that
often derails productive discussions and turns conflicts into
personally threatening ones. No one likes to be told they
are wrong, and it is all too common to say that someone
is wrong when, in fact, we actually mean that we have different priorities.
If we are car shopping, for example, there is a right and a
wrong answer about whether one car is more expensive than
another (look at the price tags and see the results). There is
no right or wrong, however, if someone values reliability more
highly than initial cost or if they prioritize legroom over trunk
space.
Predicated on the initial discussions to establish the ground
rules, it is much easier to establish a tone that is summarized
by saying, "I can see how we ended up with different choices
because our priorities are different." It becomes easier to disagree and discuss those differences if we acknowledge that
each person has a legitimate position. That is not inconsistent
with the fact that, based on our experiences and priorities,
we value different aspects of the decision in different ways.
Uncoupling the different criteria and understanding them
separately provides an opportunity for better understanding.3
4. Visualize and compare trade-offs between choices.
Based on discussions to this point, it is likely emerging that
each person involved in the decision has different priorities
that potentially result in different best choices for them.
The key to making progress toward consensus is to identify
ways to find common ground in which each person finds a

solution that is viable given their priorities. A Pareto front4
can help eliminate noncontenders (like a lower quality, more
expensive item) from further consideration based on the
mutually agreed-on criteria.
Graphical tools, such as tradeoff and mixture plots,5 show
how the improvement of one metric leads to sacrifice of
others and identify which choices are more robust to different prioritizations of the criteria. Looking at the choices in
this way makes it clear that everyone will not be able to get
everything that they want, but also will highlight the potentially palatable alternatives. The goal is to find a compromise
choice on which everyone can reach consensus.

Patience and due process

Disagreements and difficult choices in decision making are not
going to disappear from the fabric of our work and personal lives.
But with some structure and intentional choices to make discussions and decisions revolve around data, while honoring different
priorities of the criteria considered, there are opportunities to
reach consensus and concentrate on making the right choice.
Conflict-when focused on the best interests of the business-can elevate performance, author Patrick Lencioni wrote.6
The key is to handle disagreements in a way that recognizes
how individuals prioritized the criteria and allows all participants to be included and heard. With patience and due
process, there are strategies that can help people with different
perspectives reach a mutually acceptable and ideal choice.
REFERENCES
1. Goodreads, "Robert Tew > Quotes," www.goodreads.com/author/
quotes/13848712.Robert_Tew.
2. Christine M. Anderson-Cook and Lu Lu, "Much-Needed Structure: A
New 5-Step Decision-Making Process Helps You Evaluate, Balance
Competing Objectives," Quality Progress, October 2015, pp. 42-50.
3. Christine M. Anderson-Cook and Lu Lu, "Divide and Conquer:
Understanding Trade-off s by Studying Separate Relationships," Quality
Progress, October 2014, pp. 46-48.
4. Lu Lu, Christine M. Anderson-Cook and Timothy J. Robinson, "Optimization
of Designed Experiments Based on Multiple Criteria Utilizing a Pareto
Frontier," Technometrics, 2011, Vol. 53, No. 4, pp. 353-365.
5. Christine M. Anderson-Cook and Lu Lu, "Weighing Your Options:
Decision Making With the Pareto-front Approach," Quality Progress,
October 2012, pp. 50-52.

Christine M. Anderson-Cook is a
research scientist in the Statistical
Sciences Group at Los Alamos National
Laboratory in Los Alamos, NM. She
earned a doctorate in statistics from
the University of Waterloo in Ontario.
Anderson-Cook is a fellow of ASQ and
the American Statistical Association.

qualityprogress.com ❘ October 2017

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http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/13848712_Robert_Tew http://www.qualityprogress.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - October 2017

Seen and Heard
Progress Report
Mr. Pareto Head
Expert Answers
Career Coach
In Focus
The Results Are In
Visual Aid
Experimental Learning
Statistics Spotlight
Standard Issues
Marketplace
Footnotes
Try This Today
STANDARDS AND AUDITING GUIDE
Quality Progress - October 2017 - intro
Quality Progress - October 2017 - cover1
Quality Progress - October 2017 - cover2
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 1
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 2
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 3
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 4
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 5
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Seen and Heard
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 7
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Progress Report
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Mr. Pareto Head
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 10
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 11
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Expert Answers
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 13
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Career Coach
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 15
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 16
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 17
Quality Progress - October 2017 - In Focus
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 19
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 20
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 21
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 22
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 23
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 24
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 25
Quality Progress - October 2017 - The Results Are In
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 27
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 28
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 29
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 30
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 31
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 32
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 33
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Visual Aid
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 35
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 36
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 37
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 38
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 39
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Experimental Learning
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 41
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 42
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 43
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 44
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 45
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 46
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 47
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Statistics Spotlight
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 49
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Standard Issues
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 51
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 52
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 53
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 54
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 55
Quality Progress - October 2017 - STANDARDS AND AUDITING GUIDE
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 57
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Marketplace
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 59
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Footnotes
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 61
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 62
Quality Progress - October 2017 - 63
Quality Progress - October 2017 - Try This Today
Quality Progress - October 2017 - cover3
Quality Progress - October 2017 - cover4
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