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Operational Definition

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An unambiguous, observable, and if at all possible, measurable standard of acceptance for a product/process characteristic. The purpose of an operational definition is to have a common set of rules for evaluating a characteristic that everyone can follow independently, without any opportunity for misinterpretation. The process for creating operational definitions involves three elements: a criterion, validation test and decision.

The criterion establishes the objective for the key quality characteristic against which the test results can be evaluated. The test provides a specific procedure for measuring the characteristic. Finally, the decision is a determination as to whether or not the characteristic meets the criterion.


Operational definitions provide a foundation for determining whether or not actions need to be taken to improve process performance and should be created prior to the collection of any data.

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Operational Definitions from Balanced -