Red Bead Experiment

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Red Bead Experiment - short version

An experiment developed by W. Edwards Deming to illustrate it is impossible to put employees in rank order of performance for the coming year based on their performance during the past year because performance differences must be attributed to the system, not to employees. Six people, 800 red beads and 3,200 white beads are needed for the experiment. The participants' goal is to produce white beads, because the customer will not accept red beads. One person begins by stirring the beads in a jar and then, blindfolded, selecting a sample of 50 beads. That person hands the jar to the next person, who repeats the process, and so on. When everyone has his or her sample, the number of red beads for each is counted. The limits of variation between employees that can be attributed to the system are calculated. Everyone will fall within the calculated limits of variation that could arise from the system. The calculations will show there is no evidence one person will be a better performer tha



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