What Executives, Black Belts and Consumers Should KnowPosted: January 11, 2012
One of the great problems today is the general lack of understanding of statistics. Statistics has always been one of those topics that is intimidating to many people. Partly this is due to the way it is taught and partly due to the dense, technical presentations in traditional statistics text books.
On the other hand, the internet, and sites such as YouTube, now have several videos and articles that help explain in plain language the concept and basic equations underlying key statistical concepts.
In my opinion, one of the most important concepts is that of statistical compared to practical significance. Without an appreciation of how statistical significance is estimated and its difference from practical significance, executives, Black Belts and consumers can all make poor decisions.
For example, how often do we as consumers see the phrase “a recent study shows a statistically significant effect on mortality rates from people who do (fill in the blank).” Because many reporters don’t understand the difference between statistical and practical significance, they then may make a leap in terms of recommendations on what people ought to do. Even if that conclusion is not made in the article, the reader might jump to some conclusions about what is “good” and what is “bad.” Worse yet, they might act on their impression in ways that has truly adverse, unintended consequences.
90% of developing skills as a performance improvement professional is knowing what are the things that are very important to understand. If you are a person whose profession is Black Belt or other similar role, you should deeply understand and continually practice your ability to apply and to properly guide others in the estimation of statistical significance in various situations as well as how to judge practical significance.