Pre-Summit Workshop MG March 13, 2017

Pre-Summuit Workshops: Understanding Variation and Performance Management: Practical Applications of Dr. Deming's Red Bead Experiment. 

Presenter: Mark Graban

Our education experiences enable leaders to confidently drive the lean transformation of their organizations so they can deliver measurably better value to the patients, families, and communities they serve. Programs are developed and taught by faculty with extensive lean healthcare experience.

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In a Lean journey, organizations often introduce daily (or even hourly) performance metrics that are meant to drive change and evaluated performance. But, do you or your leaders find yourselves having to explain every bad data point in a chart, or any "red" data point that doesn't mean a goal or target? Does this "whack a mole" approach to management frustrate everybody involved, waste time, and get in the way of real improvement?


Dr. W. Edwards Deming used the “Red Bead Game,” which was created in 1982, in hundreds of seminars around the world for over a decade. Today, Mark Graban facilitates the exercise as something that will help any Lean transformation journey.


Volunteers from the audience will have a chance to play the game – which vividly illustrates and teaches how variation is to be expected any time you measure something in a process and that there can be different causes of this variation. As a result, the right management and improvement strategies are needed (depending on the cause of the variation being experienced). The game ends with a debrief and discussion.


In the full-day workshop, we will take a deeper dive into the creation and utilization of better performance tracking charts, based on control charts and “statistical process control” methods. Participants will get to do hands-on work with sample data sets and will be encouraged to bring some of their own charts and data to use and be coached on.

Learning Objectives


Through active participation in Dr. Deming’s “Red Bead Experiment” and discussion, after the workshop you will be able to:


  1.        Understand and differentiate between “common cause” variation (or noise in the system) and “special cause” variation (or a valid signal)
  2.        Better appreciate the fallacy of targets, slogans, and incentives in a system that is poorly designed
  3.        Get hands-on experience creating “control charts” from different data sets that would be typically used in a Lean healthcare transformation
  4.        Practice interpreting simple “control charts” to more appropriately evaluate performance over time
  5.        Discuss strategies for introducing this approach into an organization