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Quality Academy: Understanding Variation and the Tools Used to Identify It

July 31, 2019

Center for Quality Improvement and Innovation (CQII)

Two-part tutorial explaining the concept of variation (fluctuations in data) and its application.


The first part covers the difference between common and special cause variation. The speakers uses examples to discuss some basic rules that can be used to understand how variation affects a system.  Also, what should be done when the variation is having too big an impact on the system.

The second part takes more statistical approach and see how the Shewhart Chart employs the mathematics of standard deviation and averages.

Learning Objectives

  • Impart a basic understanding of the two types of variation
  • How variation affects quality improvement as defined by PCN 15-02
  • Basic understanding of control charts and their construction
  • How to find hidden special cause variation in your data
  • How variation may hinder your improvement efforts

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