Using a Spreadsheet Version of Deming's Funnel Experiment in Quality Management and OM Classes

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Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education






The funnel experiment was used by Dr. W. Edwards Deming to illustrate the impact of common management behaviors on system variation. Deming's own descriptions of the experiment may be found in Deming (1982, pp. 327–332) and Deming (1993, pp. 194–209). It is also common for secondary sources, notably textbooks in Statistics, Quality Control, and other disciplinary areas, to describe the funnel experiment. See, for example, Gitlow, Oppenheim, Oppenheim, and Levine (2005). It is no overstatement to suggest that a small industry has grown up around this famous teaching tool. Today, for example, one might read about the experiment in numerous trade publications and it is possible to purchase physical kits, a Minitab macro, and any number of downloadable simulators for use in conducting the experiment. Winston (2001) has also included The funnel experiment in his text on simulation modeling using @RISK. This teaching brief summarizes the experiment, describes a simple MS-Excel spreadsheet that brings the experiment to life, and describes the use of that spreadsheet in quality management and operations management classes. Free copies of the spreadsheet are available from the author by e-mail request.