Target Values: Smaller is Better, Larger is Better, Nominal is Best

Target Values
Target Values

Photo by Mike Mozart

Quality characteristics used to identify target values in our processes. There are lots of types, but these 3 are the most common.

Smaller is Better

  • Will always have some upper specification limit.
  • Examples:
    • The late departure times from the airport. (Target is zero, they’d expect some variation, and there would be an upper level of acceptability – determined by Voice of Customer.)
    • Ambulance response times
    • Old school Nintendo game cartridge breaking force. If that wafer broke, you were out of a game! Larger is better!
    • Waste generated
    • Non-conforming items
    • Defects
    • Rejected parts

Larger is Better

  • Will always have some lower specification limit.
  • Examples:
    • Test scores (target is 100% – or at least pass rating ;’) )
    • Amount of free time
    • Net Promoter Scores
    • Pressure needed to explode a tire.
    • Cell phone battery life


Nominal is Best

  • Examples:
    • Phone associates: too little time and they are missing things, too much time and they are not being efficient enough.
    • Goldilocks: not too hot, not too cold, just right!
    • Oil in the car: too much is a waste and causes smoke when hitting the engine (or explodes parts), too little and the engine locks and dies.



1 comment… add one
  • Wyatt

    Is the Nintendo cartridge example in the wrong category? It seems like you wouldn’t want a small breaking force, and it even says, “Larger is better!”

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