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Happy Belated World Statistics Day 2015

By Penny Macias | October 22, 2015

Yes, sadly we didn't have a big celebration at the City of Tulsa in honor of this day, but it's earning a spot on the MAAP blog.

Here's a great quote from the director of the United Nations, Statistics Division:

"World Statistics Day is an excellent opportunity to start a conversation between users and producers of statistics and data at all levels. It is an opportunity to showcase our achievements centred around the key concepts of quality and sustainability, and to demonstrate our unique position as official statisticians to contribute to improving the lives of many through our products - living up to our vision statement: Better Data. Better Lives." - Stefan Schweinfest.

So to celebrate the day, I wonder if you make use of current statistics to help improve the lives of our citizens. Do you answer their calls on average more often than you did before getting support staff? Do you build their road projects 10 percent quicker than anticipated or fill potholes on average in 24 hours or less?

Do you utilize statistics to help those around you stay informed and make good decisions? The MAAP has many goals, but one of them is to train 100 percent of our workforce in the basic fundamentals of LEAN/Six Sigma. To date, we've held four training classes with a total of 34 attendees. That equates to 0.9 percent of the 3,777 positions authorized in our current budget.

Whom does that statistic help? Me. I make no guarantees about others who benefit. However, if the goal is to train 100 percent of the workforce within two years, that means we need to train approximately 1,889 people per year or 157 per month. Currently we are offering one class per month that can seat 20 people, which means if all classes are full then we will fall 137 people short per month based upon our scheduling.

So we have a few choices. We can (1) increase the number of classes offered, (2) increase the number of attendees allowed in a class, and/or (3) decrease our goal to something we can achieve.

At the rate we are going, it will take nearly 16 years to reach the goal (assuming no one new joins the workforce). I won't bore you with any more of that analysis, but I will share that as I look at the numbers, I have to remember to ask a vital question: Just what are we trying to accomplish by getting 100 percent of employees trained?

The answer is a workforce with a culture of continuous improvement and skills to always find improvements and implement them efficiently. To rely entirely on that one statistic to determine if that is the culture of the City of Tulsa would be foolish. There are a number of other factors to consider. However, that can help us decide where to focus resources, who to look to for feedback on the quality of the training, and how to increase our skills.

Statistics really aren't half as onerous as they may seem. They really are just one more tool on the road to being our best.