Lean Supply Chain

Productivity Press, 2005, 136 pp., $15 (book).

Lean Supply Chain: Collected Practices and Cases is a collection of 21 articles published in Lean Manu-facturing Advisor magazine. The book is designed to give readers practical information on how a broad spectrum of companies and governmental agencies has implemented lean supply chain practices.

The book is divided into three sections: supply chain strategies, building partnerships and improving distribution. The book's major strength is that it gives a sense of how companies—from Amazon.com, Xerox and John Deere to the U.S. Army—have successfully implemented lean supply chain methods and improved their bottom lines.

It was interesting to read how Menlo Worldwide translated takt time into a form used to monitor warehouse activities. Seeing how the calculations were applied offered a practical approach. However, details like that were few and far between. Additional examples would have made the book much more useful to those who want to implement lean practices in their supply chains or for academics who may want to base business cases on this material. The takeaways at the end of each article were also quite simplistic.

Overall, the book is a very quick read and gives readers basic ideas of how companies have implemented lean methodologies to manage their supply chains.

Brian Cocolicchio
Quest Diagnostics
Teterboro, NJ

Wake Me Up When the Data Is Over

Lori Silverman, Jossey-Bass, 2006, 320 pp., $29.95 (book).

Wake Me Up When the Data Is Over: How Organizations Use Storytelling to Drive Results is a compilation of more than 70 stories from respected organizations in a variety of industries. This book reveals how telling stories can drive and motivate employees, bring disparate corporate groups together for a common goal and accelerate knowledge development and change. As a statistician guided by data, I found that this provided an interesting step sideways into an area of information that can help any organization.

Each chapter in the book is written by a different author who discusses how storytelling was used within their organization. Interspersed among the chapters are sidebars describing individual examples relating to the chapter topic. These vignettes are true stories the writer, or the writer’s organization, has used with its employees.

The chapters are also split into three sections: day-to-day operations, strategic, and into and across organizations. While these are good descriptions, the information in each section delves deeper than the titles indicate. For example, in day-to-day operations, the writers describe the broader landscape of the organization while in the section on strategies the stories are more about centralized goals and ideas. Finally, in the third section the writers discuss dissemination into the workplace and the organization.

The book is a quick read with an understandable flow from beginning to end. The stories are filled with ideas and tools that have worked in some of the largest and most diverse companies. Wake Me When the Data Is Over is interesting, powerful and illustrates that while having relevant data for strategy or change is important, having a good story to tell is just as valuable.

I. Elaine Allen
Babson College
Wellesley, MA

Competing for Customers And Winning With Value

R. Eric Reidenbach and Reginald W. Goeke, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 216 pp., $27 member, $45 list (book).

Reidenbach and Goeke have found that previously fashionable metrics of customer satisfaction prove to be poor predictors of business performance. In Competing for Customers and Winning With Value: Breakthrough Strategies for Market Dominance, customer value proves to be one of the best predictors of market share and customer loyalty available. This book helps businesses develop a system to harness value as a competitive weapon. The authors explain how to develop a competitive planning template that will enable an organization to actually harness its value creation and delivery systems by targeting where it makes money—selling products or services to people in specific markets or market segments.

The book provides a clear blueprint for crafting breakthrough, value added strategies to dominate targeted markets. The authors’ systematic and disciplined approach includes a step-by-step process for creating and sustaining an advantage that can be deployed throughout the different functional and operational areas of an organization. They also offer a process designed to remove the randomness of crafting effective competitive strategy to help make Six Sigma, lean or any other planning program even more powerful.

The book includes a focus on value issues and their relationship to market performance, an explanation and illustration of how the competitive planning process is optimized, a focus on how an organization can implement a competitive planning process and a final checklist for the process. Each chapter is succinct and includes helpful diagrams and figures. The appendix includes handy planning and assessment forms, further strengthening the material.

I highly recommend this book for anyone with responsibility for long- range planning and customer management processes in any organization.

Dale Farris
Groves, TX


Pete Geissler, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 144 pp., $18 member, $30 list (book).

The purpose of WordSuccess: Why and How to Express Yourself to the Good Life is to persuade readers that spoken and written words are the essential key to financial and social enrichment. The book’s secondary theme is to provide the tools to becoming a more articulate communicator.

Geissler offers scientific, anecdotal and historical evidence that personal and professional successes and failures are strongly correlated with one’s communication skills. He identifies and describes five behaviors common to articulate communicators using the acronym CLOWT: compartmentalize, listen, organize, write and test.

In the second part of the book Geissler identifies five individuals as accomplished communicators. Their biographies and conversations illustrate how learning to be a clear communicator was a key factor in their successful outcomes.

The final section attempts to anecdotally assign a dollar value to the cost of poor articulation and builds a business case for good articulation. Geissler admits it isn’t an easy task, but it becomes evident that poor communication can contribute to as much as 10% or more in lost revenues. At the end of the book the author introduces his elite 11 tools readers can use to become more articulate. The tools make sense and are easy to implement.

Originally, I just wanted to learn the 11 tools. This book, however, made me keenly aware that inarticulate writing and speaking can be costly and is usually the result of poor planning and a confused mind.

James Kotterman
APL Logistics
Woodridge, IL

Applied Statistics and Probability for Engineers

Douglas C. Montgomery and George C. Runger, John Wiley & Sons, 2006, 784 pp., $123.95 (book).

The fourth edition of Applied Statistics and Probability for Engineers is intended as an introductory textbook in applied statistics and probability for students in the engineering, physical and chemical sciences. While the statistical methods presented apply to other disciplines, the authors have focused the content around engineering and science based examples and exercises using real data from either published sources or from consulting experience.

The book is organized around introductory topics in probability and statistics. The text provides an excellent overview of how engineers use statistical methods as part of the engineering problem solving process. Most of the development of concepts focuses on how the techniques are used to solve real-world problems rather than formal mathematical development.

The book’s layout enforces easy learning. Definitions, key concepts and equations are in highlighted boxes. Learning objectives are provided at the beginning of each chapter, while figures and example problems are provided throughout. There are numerous exercises in each section to reinforce particular concepts, helping readers understand applications across various problem solving situations. The book also uses resources such as web based learning and student versions of statistical software to enhance the learning experience.

Since it is intended for course study the primary audience for this book is students and teachers in the engineering sciences. However, anyone interested in studying practical applications of statistics in the engineering sciences will find this a practical—if not essential—reference text. The material is clearly presented, and the examples and exercises are well thought out.

Bryan Ruggles
Boeing Commercial Airplanes
Seattle, WA


  • Applying the Science of Six Sigma to the Art of Sales and Marketing, Michael J. Pestorius, ASQ Quality Press, 2007, 150 pp., $27 member, $45 list (book).
  • Strategic Six Sigma for Champ-ions: Keys to Sustainable Com-petitive Advantage, R. Eric Reidenbach and Reginald W. Goeke, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 152 pp., $24 member, $40 list (book).
  • Commercializing Great Pro-ducts with Design for Six Sig-ma, Randy C. Perry and David W. Bacon, Prentice Hall, 2007, 656 pp., $89.99 (book).

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