The other day I was trying to explain the benefits of standardization and the use of statistics to one of my kids. This led me to write this blog post. I hope it might help you or at least give you a new way to think about Standards and Statistics and how you use them in your everyday lives.
Whether you think about it or not --- We use statistics everyday and we rely upon standards to make our lives easier. I might even go as far to say that standards make our fast paced lives possible.
What do I mean?
- Every Day Statistics. Whether we are driving down the street or walking on the sidewalk. We use statistics to “predict” the behavior of other people and things. In our cars we expect the person in front of us to keep going – for the most part in a straight line. At traffic lights we expect the light to stay green (or red) for a certain amount of time.
- We use standards every day too. We expect that the lid will fit on our coffee cup. We expect parking spaces to be wide enough to accommodate our vehicles. Of course, this is not always the case. From a more practical point of view we expect to be able to go to our local hardware store and buy light bulbs or nuts & bolts and we expect them to fit together.
- Each of these expectations is enabled by standards. Each of these standards is a statistic that has a range that falls within something called the Standard Deviation.
Standard Deviation and You
Hundreds of times a day we unconsciously calculate the standard deviation of the events that unfold around us. We don’t think too hard about the car in front of us – unless and until - the driver does something unexpected. Something that deviates from what our brains are conditioned to think of as a standard or norm.
|How I use Statistics & Standards - |
I work in the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) space and one aspect of ECM is the use of workflow or Business Process Management (BPM). What I have said for many years is that a workflow system is only as good as it’s exception handling system. Or put another way – A well designed workflow solution has Graceful Exception Handling. This is true with our lives too. When an exception is encountered --- something that deviates from the norm --- we are typically required to react.
- When driving if an accident occurs we need to react and make real-time decisions.
- When a pedestrian steps out into the street – near a crosswalk or not – we need to react and make real-time decisions.
- When you notice a car is drifting into your lane you need to react in real-time, make a decision, and often take action.
In case you haven’t figured it out --- our oldest son is learning how to drive. I was trying to explain the probabilities of pulling into the roadway and the likelihood of other drivers to do the unexpected. I’m not sure I achieved my goal, but I do know that he is a very conscientious driver and is on the lookout for deviations from the standards that he has been conditioned to expect.
What do you think?
- How do you think about Standards and Statistics?
- Do you realize you are “doing” Statistics every day?
- Did you ever think that you’d ever use statistics again after college?
Thanks for indulging me in my attempt to explain Standard and Statistics. If you have another point of view or a better way to think about Standards and Stats please share in the comments or drop me a line at one of my contact points below.
In the meantime have a Merry Christmas and let me know how your holidays stack up to your usual standards.
About The Author:
I have spent the better part of the last 16 years working in various aspects of the ECM industry. I spent time at Kofax, Microsoft, FileNet, K2, and most recently Captaris (which was acquired by Open Text in Nov 2008). Prior to that I was a Unix VAR running my own company. Follow me on Twitter, check my blog, send email or find me on Facebook or LinkedIn.
** I am available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. My areas of emphasis are business development and alliance management where Social Media and Enterprise Content Management intersect