What is Statistical Thinking?
`Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write.'
Samuel S. Wilks
Statistical thinking is the philosophy of learning and action based
on the following fundamental principles:
All three principles work together to create the power of
- all work occurs in a system of interconnected
processes - a process being a chain of activities that
turns inputs into outputs;
- variation, which gives rise to uncertainty, exists in all processes; and
- understanding and reducing (unintended) variation are keys to success.
The definition highlights several key components: process thinking (or system thinking);
managing variation (and hence uncertainty); and using data
whenever possible to guide actions and improve decision-making.
Statistical thinking is a philosophy - a mind-set. It is an overall approach
to improvement and therefore more
broadly applicable than statistical methods. It is a way of thinking,
behaving, working, taking action and interacting with
In addition, the process focus of statistical thinking provides the context
and the relevancy for broader and more effective use of statistical
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