William G. Hunter Award 2008: Ronald Does

williamghunter.net > Hunter Award > Ronald Does

photo of Ronald Does

The recipient of the 2008 William G. Hunter Award is Ronald J.M.M. Does. The Statistics Division of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) established the Hunter Award in 1987 in memory of the Division's founding chair to promote, encourage and acknowledge outstanding accomplishments during a career in the broad field of applied statistics. The attributes that characterize Bill Hunter's career - consultant, educator for practitioners, communicator, and integrator of statistical thinking into other disciplines - are used to help decide the recipient.

Acceptance speech by Ronald Does in Phoenix, Arizona, October 9, 2008

Dear fellow statisticians and quality professionals,

It is exciting to be here, and a real honor to receive the William G. Hunter Award 2008 from the Statistics Division of the ASQ. I have never met Bill Hunter. I was not yet involved in industrial statistics before his untimely death in 1986. I started my career in mathematical statistics. After finishing my PhD thesis in 1982, I changed focus to medical statistics and psychometrics. Later in 1989, I got involved in industrial statistics at Philips Electronics. The first advice I received from my new colleagues was to read the book by Box, Hunter and Hunter. The reason was clear. Because I was not familiar with industrial statistics I had to learn this from the authors who were really practicing statisticians. It took them years to write this landmark book.

After hearing the good news from the chairman of the Hunter Award committee, Bob Mitchell, I have read about the legacy of Bill Hunter. Bill was a special statistician and a special person. He was passionate about teaching and applying statistics. It did not matter to him at which level he had to teach. He worked as a statistician in third world countries to make a difference in the lives of less fortunate people. Also his project in the city garage in Madison is famous. After reading about his life and scientific work, it has become clear to me what a real honor it is to receive this award.

I would like to thank Jeroen de Mast for nominating me, as well as Martina Vandebroek, Jaap van den Heuvel, Stefan Steiner and Geoff Vining for their supporting letters. For the past 15 years I have been the managing director of the Institute for Business and Industrial Statistics. This is a consultancy firm owned by the University of Amsterdam. The interaction between scientific research and the application of quality technology via our consultancy work is the core operating principle of the institute. This is reflected in the type of people that work for the institute, all of whom are young professionals having strong ambitions in both the academic world and in business and industry.

My colleague Jeroen de Mast is one of the most talented young researchers and consultants in the field of quantitative improvement strategies. He also believes that it is all-importance of training people in profit and non-profit organizations in good research and decision methodologies. During the last 10 years we have trained hundreds of professionals in statistical methods, Six Sigma and statistical thinking at diverse companies in electronics, food, finance, healthcare, plastics and semi-conductors.

One foot in practice, the other in academy: that is how we practice our profession. It is a view strongly advocated by our institute's inspirator Søren Bisgaard. I met Søren for the first time at the 1999 ISI satellite conference on industrial statistics in Linkoping, Sweden. During this conference, a special workshop was organized to discuss the viability of the idea of forming an applied statistics organization in Europe. This workshop, led by Søren Bisgaard, was attended by about 20 statisticians several of whom later would play prominent roles in what became the European Network for Business and Industrial Statistics (abbreviated by ENBIS).

At the following meeting in Eindhoven, the original mission and vision of ENBIS was discussed and formulated, and a founding board was elected chaired by Søren Bisgaard. The model was ASQ's Statistics Division of which Bill Hunter was the founding chair. I offered to take on the administrative burden via my organization IBIS and offered to organize a founding kickoff conference in Amsterdam, December 11, 2000. The kickoff conference attracted approximately 80 statisticians and statistical practitioners from all over Europe. ENBIS was officially founded in June 2001 as "an autonomous Society having as its objective the development and improvement of statistical methods, and their application, throughout Europe, all this in the widest sense of the words" Since the first meeting membership has grown to about 1300 from nearly all European countries.

Jeroen and I have worked pro bono for ENBIS because we knew from the start that its mission and vision were unique. The benefits have been really great. It has introduced us to a complete new world. We have made many friends from all over Europe and abroad. One of them was, as I already mentioned before, Søren Bisgaard. Søren is an ASQ fellow, Shewhart and Box medalist and six years ago winner of the Hunter award. He has become one of my closest friends and we have a very fruitful cooperation. The interaction between science and application is how our joint articles originate.

Currently, we work together with Jaap van den Heuvel (CEO of one of the largest hospitals in the Netherlands) on healthcare quality, just as Bill Hunter did years ago. Some of the apparent conflicts between quality and cost of health care are rooted in confusions about the definition of quality, confusions that may impede progress in solving problems with the health care systems and paralyze the leadership.

Although there are crucial differences between manufacturing and health care, we show that definitions and concepts that have evolved in the manufacturing industry may help to explain the economics of quality improvement and show how we can improve quality while reducing cost in health care. We also study several other important concepts and ideas of modern quality management that have evolved in other application areas that can be adopted by the health care industry and help us move ahead without having to relearn the same painful and costly lessons.

Again, thank you very much. I am deeply honored to receive this award that bears the name of the person who was a real ambassador for statistics.

Ronald J.M.M. Does

Ronald J.M.M. Does obtained his MS degree in Mathematics at the University of Leiden in 1976. In 1982 he defended his PhD entitled “Higher Order Asymptotics for Simple Linear Rank Statistics” at the same university.

Since 1991 he became Professor of Industrial Statistics at the University of Amsterdam. In 1994 he founded the Institute for Business and Industrial Statistics, which operates as an independent consultancy firm within the University of Amsterdam. The interaction between scientific research on the one hand, and the application of quality technology via our consultancy work on the other is the core of the institute. The projects at this institute involve the implementation of SPC or (Lean) Six Sigma.

His current research activities lie in the design of control charts for nonstandard situations and the improvement of statistical methods in Lean Six Sigma. Ronald Does has published more than 100 scientific paper and 9 books. Besides he has supervised 13 PhD theses. From 2000 to 2007 he was Director, Treasurer, and Secretary of the European Network for Business and Industrial Statistics (ENBIS). Currently, he is academician of the International Academy for Quality, fellow of the ASQ and member of the editorial boards of Quality Engineering and Quality Technology and Quantitative Management.