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Why statistics is in the DNA at W.L. Gore

Maria Lanzerath, W.L. Gore's global statistics leader, advocates statistics, the scientific approach.Maria Lanzerath, W.L. Gore's global statistics leader, advocates statistics, the scientific approach.Maria Lanzerath is making the world a better place. She has had a round-about path to becoming an industrial statistician, which makes her journey all the more interesting. Based in Germany, she leads the global statistics team at W.L. Gore. She shares a wealth of knowledge and best practices in this episode of Analytically Speaking, spanning a variety of topics: designed experiments, statistical process control, and analytical culture, to name a few.

The decision-making culture at W.L. Gore sounds amazing.  Everyone’s areas of expertise are respected — scientists, engineers, statisticians — and they all contribute to knowledge-based decisions as a team. The team very thoroughly discusses the problem. They determine what they know, what they need to know, and then they know where they need to start experimenting to further their understanding. Maria points out that statistics is in W.L. Gore’s DNA. Bill Gore, the founder of the company, was a big advocate of statistics, and that perspective is reflected in the culture.

Maria shares some amazing things she has done with designed experiments, with an especially nice example of a definitive screening design. She has turned design-of-experiment (DOE) skeptics into fans when they see its power and strategic value to save time and money AND to learn faster from data. Interestingly, she shares that DOE is mostly only used by American companies in Germany. Opportunity for more value!

Maria relishes a good challenge — the more complex and complicated, the better, especially when her colleagues think a situation is hopeless. Her attitude is admirable when facing a good challenge. She is ever the optimist on the team to see what progress can be made.

I love that she stresses the importance of creativity in statistics. She is an inspiration and clearly continues to enjoy a rewarding career in applied statistics. Maria is skilled at showing others (even those who don’t like statistics) how wonderful statistics is and what it can can do for them, although she considers herself the “one-eyed among the blind.” Watch the interview in this latest episode, and you will see how her advocacy of statistics and its application is making the world a better place.