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A Toolbook for Quality Improvement and Problem Solving (contents)

Tool types

The Quality Toolbook > Tools for Applications > Tool types

Classifying tools | Four classes of tools


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Classifying tools

These broad groupings of pictorial and numeric tools can be combined to describe specific types of tool and to identify actual examples of these. The table below lists the tools described in this book and shows their basic pictorial and numeric type.

This is a useful way of dividing up the tools, as it shows how many different tools actually use similar principles for displaying different aspects of problems.


Four classes of tools

Non-numeric pictorial tools

Non-numeric information often arrives in, or can be broken down into, discrete and relatively independent chunks. Visual tools help to discover and organize these chunks, showing the various types of relationships between them.

Numeric pictorial tools

Numeric information lends itself well to visual representation in graphs and chart. These convert what can be a mass of unintelligible numbers into a form which clearly convey important attributes of the problem.

Numeric non-pictorial tools

Tools that are numeric and pictorial are usually limited by the complexity of the data that they can display. For example, a complex graph containing a dozen different lines can be extremely difficult to interpret. This type of data may be better shown in a numeric, non-graphical format. These have the advantage of showing exact numbers, but lose the impact and ability to highlight decision points of more graphical displays.

Non-numeric non-graphical tools

There are some applications where information is not numeric and where a pictorial display is either inappropriate or impossible.


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