Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, May 23, 2021

Just when you thought statistical theory was so much bunk, Knoxville-based QualPro is turning heads with its analytical techniques that boost companies’ efficiencies (and therefore bottom lines).

What’s QualPro’s secret? Multivariable testing, or MVT, a method that basically makes some statistical assumptions, which enables running fewer models. Once the number of experiments becomes managable, something like MVT has enormous business application:

Shortly after SBC took control of Ameritech in late 1999 its service operation fell apart, with some customers waiting weeks or months to get phone service restored or new lines installed. In 2000 SBC brought hundreds of technicians from Missouri, Texas and elsewhere to the Midwest to regain control.

SBC considered the situation normal once it reduced the backlog to about 80,000 Midwest customers awaiting service…

Following its usual format for problem solving, QualPro’s consultants held brainstorming sessions with people who did the repair and installation work for SBC-technicians and customer reps who answer complaint calls as well as managers and department chiefs. Everyone was asked to propose ideas for improving the process.

The only suggestions considered were those that cost little or nothing and were easy and practical to implement, said Kieron Dey, QualPro technical director…

The experiment identified about eight changes that improved efficiency. Most were fairly simple things such as giving employees written instructions rather than relying upon them to remember what they were told.

The firm acted on the suggestions. Over several months SBC’s backlog in the Midwest was cut in half, dropping to about 40,000, [former SBC Communications exec Ed] Mueller said.

“It’s unbelievable you could get it there and sustain it in a cost-effective way,” said Mueller, who was so impressed with MVT that he traveled to Knoxville to study [QualPro president Charles] Holland’s methods.

To paraphrase Bart Simpson: They actually found a practical use for geometry statistics!

And the fun isn’t limited to the business world:

“Anything that can be measured can be improved,” Holland said. He has even applied his methods to his teenage son’s baseball team.

Using a radar gun Holland measures how fast a baseball leaves the bat once it is hit. As each batter changes various factors, such as his stance, bat length and weight, Holland records the performance.

By finding an optimal batting strategy for each player, Holland said, batters have raised by 10 miles an hour the average speed of a batted ball. The extra speed translates into more runners reaching base, he said, and has helped the team achieve a batting average above .400.

Look for several Major League teams, and player agents, to be scrambling for QualPro’s phone number.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/23/2005 11:25:04 PM
Category: Baseball, Business, Science
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the foot in football
In the wake of his involvement in a steroid scandal — and for being a jerk in general — the Carolina Panthers traded away Pro Bowl punter Todd Sauerbrun to Denver in exchange for, basically, peace of mind.

Two thoughts spring to mind:

- I hope the Panthers are happy with that peace of mind, because they’re going to need it to assuage the constantly-rotten field position they’ll be getting without Sauerbrun’s booming kicks.

- A kicker on steroids? Sheesh. I guess his erratic behavior can all be attributed to ‘roid rage… I wasn’t upset when those MLB homerun records were revealed to be juice-tainted. But now that it looks like Sauerbrun’s three years (2001-2003) of NFC-leading gross punting average were the result of enhancement — now I’m against them.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/23/2005 10:42:13 PM
Category: Football
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It’s amazing what kinds of personal artifacts you find when you start digging…

This weekend, I came upon a backpack I got at some financial conference, probably seven or eight years ago (back when I worked for an investment banking firm). It’s rather nice for a giveaway, but I never used it — not really a backpack kinda guy. As a result, the thing still looks practically brand new.

The backpack is branded with the name of the company that gave it away, all those years ago: Salomon Smith Barney. Back then, SSB was a new animal, formed as part of a spasm of mergers in the financial services field.

Which is funny in the here and now, because today, SSB no longer exists.

The company fades, but the ghost lingers, in the form of tchotchkes.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/23/2005 08:51:17 PM
Category: Business, History
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Inexplicably, my bill for a small bag of groceries today came out to exactly ten dollars. Ten dollars and no change, tax included.

Amazing!

No, not really. But it’s kind of unusual. And if there’s any appropriate place for recording such inanities, it’s gotta be a blog.

So, in the spirit of my previous FOUND Magazine impression, here’s the “perfect” bill of sale:

PUBLIX
Store Manager: Patrick Helm
Phone Number: 727-822-1125

LYNELL WAS YOUR CASHIER TODAY.

1 @ 2/4.00
BROC/CRT EAT SMART 2.00 F
1 @ 2/4.00
VEGETABLE STIR FRY 2.00 F
BARILLA ANGEL HAIR .99 F
BARILLA ANGEL HAIR .99 F
PINK ENERGY DRINK 1.99 B
PROG CLAM SAUCE 1.89 F

****TAX .14 BAL 10.00
VF DEBIT PURCHASE 10.00

5/23/05 12:52 PM 0028 08 0253 243
Where Saving Is
Part of the Pleasure.

What are the odds? The funny thing is, I almost unknowingly blew it: I nearly opted for the multi-grain healthier version of that angel hair pasta. The only thing that stopped me was that I wasn’t sure how it would taste, and it was twice the price of the regular stuff. Turns out, it was kismet.

I think I’ve taken up enough pixels on this now…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/23/2005 08:04:51 PM
Category: General
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dean donald
Apparently following in the footsteps of his old buddy Michael Milken’s Knowledge Universe (or at least, KU’s original mission), The Donald is launching his own online for-profit university, aimed at business professionals.

The name of this soon-to-be-hallowed institution? What else but Trump University? It’s all about the brand, baby.

No word on if Combover 101 will be offered as an elective.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/23/2005 05:17:02 PM
Category: Business, Celebrity
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Newly-minted Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte is setting up shop by recruiting from the spookiest of spook haunts:

John Negroponte’s early moves since taking over as the nation’s intelligence director last month indicate he is focusing on one particular element of America’s spy apparatus: the CIA’s highly secretive clandestine service.

My first-flash thought when I read “highly secretive clandestine service”: Isn’t the entire Central Intelligence Agency, as defined by its mission, a clandestine service?

Beyond that, these early indications tell me that the new National Intelligence office is going to be nothing more than an administrative extension of the CIA, thereby giving that agency more clout for interdepartmental turf battles. Since the DNI was intended to be set above and apart from the various intelligence agencies in Washington, it appears early concerns that it would develop into an unneeded governmental layer had validity.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/23/2005 09:00:32 AM
Category: Politics
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Everyone outside the Tampa Bay area can ignore this post (or, if you’re really that bored in Sacramento or Budapest, by all means, read on):

The St. Petersburg Times is putting out a call for Bay area blogs to include in the newspaper’s new blog directory. If you don’t feel like going through the form, email them your URL instead.

I’ve already sent in this site, and as many other locals as I can think of (including everyone on the blogroll, stage left). It’s all about maxin’ that exposure, isn’t it?

I’m crossing my fingers that this directory won’t be hopelessly buried in some obscure corner of the Times’ website. Even if that does happen, it’ll be featured for at least a week, so that should bring some eyeballs this way. Plus, I’m guessing that it’ll be highlighted on tbt*, since blogs and hipsters are like peas in a pod…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/23/2005 08:28:04 AM
Category: Bloggin', Florida Livin'
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