Industrial Engineer Engineering and Management Solutions at Work

June 2013    |    Volume: 45    |    Number: 6

The member magazine of the Institute of Industrial and Engineers

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Health Systems by William "Ike" Eisenhauer

Industrial Engineer’s monthly column about health systems (June 2013) 

Variety can destroy variety

In his seminal paper, William Ross Ashby articulated so well the need for variety in a process to deal with the variety in the input. Healthcare deliv­ery has about as high a level of input variability as one could imagine in any current industry. So why the banner-waving drive to “reduce variability in the process” that is the cornerstone of many improvement efforts? It is primarily due to a misunderstanding of the purpose.


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