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The name REDBEAD is a metaphor for the problems that we experience every day in our life.

The world is a never ending supply of problems. Solve one problem and more problems appear. It is the way of the world.

When we perform work in the factory and a machine produces a defective part, the defective item may be referred to as a "REDBEAD". The same may apply to an office situation where the clerk writes down an incorrect telephone number on a message slip for the boss.

There is a management learning tool called the REDBEAD Experiment where a worker attempts to draw out of a box filled with white and red beads only white beads. It is not possible to pull out only white colored beads.

The red colored beads themselves represent defects inherent in an organization's business processes. They represent a faulty machine or tool, a bad engineering design, a defective part, a procedural flaw, an unreasonable change request, ... all the things that can and do go wrong with a process.

Supervisors and management control the number of REDBEADs in the processes that are given to the workers.
The REDBEAD experiment is deceptively simple because it provides a powerful message that is difficult for many to grasp. In summary, the misconception that workers can be meaningfully ranked is based on two faulty assumptions. The first assumption is that each worker can control his or her performance. Dr. W Edwards Deming estimated that 94 percent of the variation in any system is attributable to the system, not to the people working in the system. The second assumption is that any system variation will be equally distributed across workers. Dr. Deming has taught that there is no basis for this assumption in real life experiences. The source of the confusion comes from statistical (probability) theory where random numbers are used to obtain samples from a known population. When random numbers are used in an experiment, there is only one source of variation, so the randomness tends to be equally distributed.
by WillingWorker August 28, 2010