Quality Management Journal Book Reviews - April 2002 - ASQ

Quality Management Journal Book Reviews - April 2002

Contents

Success @ Life: A Zen-trepreneur’s Guide to How to Catch and Live Your Dream.

Ron Rubin and Stuart Avery Gold. 2001. Newmarket Press. 159 pages.

Reviewed by Helen Ferraro, University of Phoenix


“While an entrepreneur creates a business, a Zentrepreneur creates a business and a life,” so say Ron Rubin and Stuart Avery Gold in their book Success @ Life: A Zentrepreneur’s Guide to How to Catch and Live Your Dream. This book is the authors’ combined effort at sharing their philosophy of life and business with the world. The authors are the “ministers” of the Republic of Tea, a California company whose marketing and business acumen have revolutionized the tea business. Republic of Tea sells the finest teas and herbs in the world to cafes, department stores, restaurants, and specialty food stores, as well as through their widely popular Web site. The authors’ business success combined with their ability to create a fast-growing and unique brand name has earned them the respect and admiration of many in the business and academic worlds.

Because of their success, both authors have been asked by colleges and businesses to speak to students and employees about their secrets to success. While the authors enjoy these speaking opportunities, to fulfill their dreams they must concentrate their time on their true passion and dream: unleashing on the world the art of tea (p. 6). This book allows the authors to share their unique philosophy of life and share the secrets they have learned in living their own dreams.

The book is beautifully organized and flows easily from subject to subject. With a unique and witty approach to writing, the authors provide helpful hints on how to become more successful by discovering and living your passion. Throughout the book the authors challenge readers to do what they are meant to do. Traveling this road to success is not easy they say, however the trip is well worth the demands. The authors’ purpose in writing this book was to let readers come to the “realization that in order to be truly happy, to be completely fulfilled, you need to live a life designed around your own special talents and gifts” (p. 34).

Each chapter of the book is peppered with anecdotes about the lives of the authors or with stories about celebrities or friends who live the lives of Zentrepreneurs. The writing is different from most business advice books, as it concentrates on how to improve one’s life to improve how one performs in business. This unique approach allows readers to take a different approach to success. The authors stress the importance of staying focused, finding a mentor, setting goals, and learning from failure.

One unique piece of advice included in the book is the daily assignment of writing down your goal as an achievement rather than as a wish or a hope. For example, instead of writing “I want to be the president of IBM,” write, “I am the president of IBM.” This approach is much more empowering, allowing the reader to daily visualize the achievement of that life goal. The authors then take readers through the remaining steps to achieving life goals.

In addition to giving advice on how to attain one’s life goals, the authors offer advice on how to live a more fulfilled life by giving to others. Their own company gives in several different ways to local, national, and international causes. Their sage advice states, “Without changing anything else, if you change your attitude, you can change everything else. Indeed, you can change the world” (p. 119).

This is the type of business book one must read more than once and one that I will read many times as I strive to achieve my status as a Zentrepreneur. After reading this book, I am re-energized about my life goals. I have gained some helpful tools, as well as a different approach to changing my attitude in order to achieve my goals. This book is one I will recommend to fellow graduate students as an inspirational guide to achieving success at life.

Pilot Your Life: Comedian Turned CEO Helps You Star in Your Career.

Ron Shaw with Richard Krevolin. 2001. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice Hall. 224 pages.

Reviewed by Cindy Phillips, University of Phoenix


Every day is an opportunity to learn something new, and you need to take advantage of it. This is the central theme carried through the collection of stories and anecdotes in the story of Ron Shaw. The story covers his life, with stops along the way as Shaw relates interesting events and happenings. Every story and thought that is shared has a central theme: You are in control of your life. In writing the book, Shaw wants to provide readers with encouragement and knowledge that will allow them to keep going until they reach the pinnacle of their own personal mountain.

Many people have no idea who Shaw is until you mention his television commercials, where he is on a plane and someone says that the pilot is missing and he saves the day by stepping up and sharing his Pilot Pen. Acting in the commercials for the Pilot Pen Company is a natural. Shaw has been acting since he was 11 years old. His acting career lasted until his early 20s when he decided that he could not support a family. That was the start of his career in writing instruments. It may seem a long way from being a teenage stand-up comedian to becoming the CEO of one of the world’s largest writing instrument companies, but the tenacious style of Shaw allowed him to do just that.

Shaw mentions numerous times that everyone is in charge of his or her own life, and he or she decides where it goes. He knows that by not accepting the statement that something was impossible from the time he was 10 years old is why he now has the opportunity to do the commercials for Pilot Pens. His first experience of taking charge of his own destiny and not letting other people tell him it couldn’t be done involved a paper route. The paper carriers were no younger than 12 years old. Shaw wanted a Black Phantom bike and he was determined to earn the money delivering papers. He walked in, told them he was 12, and was hired, when in fact, he was only 10. By the time he was 12 he had already started working on stage in front of a live audience. By watching the comedians work the audience he learned how to handle people, and he increased his knowledge when he began doing a comedy routine. To this day, Shaw admits that the experience of doing the comedy act was the greatest training he could have. He learned how to deal with people in a variety of situations and how to handle those situations.

Many books written about management by managers have the style of a textbook and are about as interesting. This book is more a collection of short stories than a textbook. Every chapter begins with a story about something that has happened in Shaw’s life. These stories are usually on the light side and many are humorous. After sharing a story about a happening in his life, the author goes on to tell how the event provided a valuable lesson (even though he may not have known it at the time). Several of his stories and lessons have a central theme, and this is the reason Shaw wrote the book. He wants everyone to understand how much control they do have of their lives. Even when a happening was not a happy or good event, Shaw came away with a lesson. Many of these lessons proved to be ones he didn’t want to repeat, but it was a case of having to experience it once to know how it really felt.

Pilot Your Life is not written in chronological order, but as the chapters pass you learn how Shaw’s career in writing instruments progressed. When he left the stand-up comedy life to have a family he started working for the BIC Pen Company. He was a salesman who decided he was going to be the best salesman. This he did, and throughout his career he has set goals and strived to reach them. He was not always successful, but he came away having learned something that he applied later in life. Even though Shaw has not worked as a salesman for many years, he still enjoys promoting the company and product. Pilot Pen is a Japanese company that wanted to purchase a company in the United States. The company had hit a plateau in American sales and it hired Shaw to take it past that plateau. He did just that and continues to move the company forward. He is also an ambassador for America. Shaw is the only American on the board of directors of a Japanese company. His business knowledge is a great example of the quality of people in our country.

The book was thoroughly enjoyable. The light, humorous style was easy to read. Shaw loves to learn, and he has a talent for teaching readers what he has learned without making it seem like learning. This book would be a great tool for high school teachers. It would allow them to teach students to be responsible for their lives. It can be hard to teach management because it is not tangible. The stories in the book allow readers to visualize the event and the lesson learned. Businesses would also benefit from their employees reading the book. The employees would be able to see what taking the initiative in their job will allow them to do. I recommend reading Pilot Your Life. I hope others enjoy it as much as I did.


Leading at the Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition.

Dennis N. T. Perkins with Margaret P. Holtman, Paul R. Kessler, and Catherine McCarthy. 2001. New York: AMACON. 245 pages.

Reviewed by Jeanine Bekas, University of Phoenix


Think of leadership challenges, and chances are you will think of principles and theories used by leaders, as well as the qualities that determine great leaders. Perkins profoundly characterizes leadership in Leading at the Edge by developing two dimensions to a place called “the edge:” the limits of human endurance and the limits of individual and organization potential. His translation of the remarkable Shackleton expedition provided him with the ability to construct 10 lessons that powerfully disclose what it takes to be a great leader. This road map can be used as a guide to help leaders and organizations achieve their greatest potential.

Throughout his life, Perkins, a retired second lieutenant from the Marines and president of a consulting company that focuses on effective leadership in demanding environments, sought to understand what it really means to be a great leader. The saga of Shackleton’s trans-Antarctic expedition stood out as a powerful example of accomplishments made as a result of people working together to overcome adversity. In Leading at the Edge, he details this extraordinary sailing voyage of survival and captures examples of accomplishments made as a result of people working together to overcome adversity.

Leading at the Edge is a story of the Endurance, a ship led by Sir Ernest Shackleton, who sailed from the island of West Georgia in the southern ocean. Its goal was the first overland crossing of Antarctica. For Perkins, 10 leadership principles emerged as critical factors that distinguish groups that triumph from those that fail. These core leadership strategies form the backbone of this book.

Furthermore, Perkins shows how using these 10 principles, employed by Shackleton and others who have succeeded in the face of extreme adversity, can help leaders reach the limits of individual and organizational performance. Leading at the Edge demonstrates how these leadership lessons can be applied to organizations confronting such challenges as competition, economic uncertainty, and the need for innovation, growth, and change.

In evaluating one of the principles, symbolism and personal example, Perkins defines a strategy of setting a personal example with visible, memorable symbols and behaviors. Ernest Shackleton was aware of his personal presence being a unique source of energy and power. After the devastation of seeing their home, the Endurance, crushed by ice, one of the seamen remembers Shackleton addressing the crew. He stood before his men and told them “not to be worried about the vessel, and he assured them that by hard effort, clean work, and loyal cooperation, they could make their way to land” (p. 30). As a result of his example of leadership, the men were focused beyond the devastation to a sense of control over their fate, even though there was nothing tangible to warrant this transformation.

Perkins uses Shackleton’s expedition as his example even though the expedition did not achieve its goal. Shackleton employed the 10 principles of being a great leader, yet he failed to make the trans-Antarctic crossing. However, Shackleton did lead his people on a voyage that they never should have taken without more planning. By using this sailing voyage as an example, it leads us to believe that although we may employ these 10 principles, we, too, may fail.

On the other hand, the book does leave readers with this thought: Success or failure does not measure success; rather, it can be measured by one’s ability to break new ground and press the limits. Inherently, these have greater risk and uncertainty. The values of leaders are truly what drive their behavior.

By studying Leading at the Edge, readers can learn the things needed to lead organizations to their full potential, and they can remember these principles when they are stretched, stressed, and challenged.


Mining the Middle Ground: Developing Mid-Level Managers for Strategic Change.

David N. Williams. 2000. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press. 280 pages.

Reviewed by Dale J. Cook, St. Mary’s College of California


David Williams is the president of Williams Alliance International. He specializes in helping organizations succeed at large-scale change. This book presents a management model on how to accomplish strategic change by developing and tapping mid-level managers. Williams’ management model has been refined over 15 years and has been successfully implemented in more than 100 organizations. In Mining the Middle Ground, Williams writes about the success of managers who have used the various guidelines, tips, and pitfalls to avoid that are presented in his book: “A mobilized and enabled middle management resource, which was likely skipped over and avoided in the past, has been made capable of leading and managing change. Organizing and enabling middle managers has opened up an entire source of knowledge and change leadership. These managers have expanded their purview beyond the walls of the silos, to recognize both the full horizontal flow of strategic processes and the power of linking strategic planning to tactical action. They have seen how to make change work, how to make their jobs work, for the full organization rather than just for a part” (p. 244).

Williams uses several case studies, success stories, and interviews to bring light to the concepts, approaches, and techniques presented. Mining the Middle Ground also includes many quotes shared by managers in a variety of industries. The case studies, success stories, in-depth interviews, and quotes helped explain and reinforce the topics addressed.

For example, Williams discusses the role of the executive team, defining the strategic objective, assessing the organization’s readiness and capabilities for change, and creating a mandate for change. Other topics discussed are identifying the organization’s strategic processes; assembling the campaign team; the campaign; mapping; surveying and measuring the environment; process performance; communicating; planning for tactical team support, preparation, and launch; and tactical project mechanics, including team ground rules and expectations. Williams also addresses the ongoing role of the executive team, looking at the big picture and implementing change itself.

Mining the Middle Ground features insight into how to turn middle managers into strategic change drivers. The book focuses on how to tap middle management and maximize on the value gained from investments and resources. The book also furnishes a field-proven model for developing, integrating, and tapping the middle management resource. In addition, there are step-by-step directions on how to apply the model in the workplace.

Mining the Middle Ground addresses business, human resources, teams, and leadership. Williams writes: “Successfully enabled and cultivated, mid-level managers can be your company’s strongest resource for knowledge creation breakthrough thinking, and change leadership.” The team concept is a good way to win or be successful in most business efforts. The book enlightens readers of the vast amount of resources that are already on hand. The step-by-step walk through the management model’s concepts is a plus, along with the interviews and case studies. In each case study there is the challenge of change, included with a discussion of the leadership maneuvers that were incorporated in order to initiate organizational change. Each case study is also a success story. The situations could be in any business today, which helps put the book into a real-world context. The best part of the book, however, is the detail. Williams writes: “Details are essential.…” Middle managers are essential, too!


Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.

Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton (editor). 1991. New York: Penguin Press. 200 pages.

Reviewed by Jeff M. Bickerton, St. Mary’s College of California


Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury gives an insightful and pragmatic approach to winning negotiations. Fisher teaches negotiations at Harvard Law School and both he and Ury direct Harvard’s project on negotiation. Getting to Yes is the result of years of study into how to conduct successful negotiations in what the authors refer to as principle-centered negotiations. “The method of principled negotiation developed at the Harvard Negotiation Project is to decide issues on their merits rather than through a haggling process focused on what each side says it will and won’t do” (p. xviii). The authors suggest this winning method of negotiation can be best accomplished by separating the people from the problem, focusing on interests and not positions, inventing options for mutual gain, and insisting on using objective criteria. According to Fisher and Ury, by following this approach to negotiation, parties can reach gradual consensus on joint decisions efficiently without the damage that can occur by digging into respective positions.

How important are negotiation skills to managers and leaders? Managers and leaders negotiate every day. According to Fisher and Ury, “Everyone negotiates something every day” (p. xvii). When I sit in a budget meeting with our company’s financial analyst, or when I set out to hire a new employee, I need to be able to negotiate effectively. For this type of negotiation it is even more important to maintain an appropriate amount of decorum and cultivate relationships rather than pounding a shoe on a lectern.

One of the main tenets of principle-centered negotiation focuses on effectively resolving conflict by separating the people from the problem. According to Fisher and Ury, “dealing with a substantive problem and maintaining a good working relationship need not be conflicting goals if the parties are committed and psychologically prepared to treat each separately on its own legitimate merits” (p. 21). Further, being able to see the situation as the other party or parties see it is an important skill in principle-centered negotiation (p. 23). In fact, this skill is so important that it is a good idea to discuss each other’s perceptions in a frank and honest manner (p. 26). To be effective, a good negotiator must possess good negotiation skills. These skills will assist the negotiator in listening to the other party and identifying and properly responding to breakdowns in the process.

Another tenet of principle-centered negotiation is focusing on interests, not positions. The best way to explain this is through a historical event reported in Getting to Yes. When Egypt and Israel sat down in 1978 to negotiate a peace, they could not agree on where each country’s boundary should be drawn. The two sides’ positions seemed irreconcilable until they focused on their own interests not positions. Egypt’s interest was in sovereignty, while Israel was concerned about its own security. Once each country focused on its interest, a deal could be struck. Egypt was able to fly its flag over the entire territory provided that it agreed to not place its tanks anywhere near Israel. The parties were focusing on their own positions, not their own interests.

A third fundamental tenet is inventing options for mutual gain. The authors basically state that during negotiations, people sometimes get tunnel vision and focus on either/or options. In order to invent options, the negotiating parties must be prepared to brainstorm ideas, broaden the options, multiply options by shuttling between specific and general ideas, and looking for mutual gain (pp. 61-69). I have often found myself at loggerheads while negotiating with someone only to have a disinterested person come up with a fantastic option that I had not previously thought of. My inability to see the elegant solution is likely the result of not following one of the aforementioned suggestions.

The final fundamental tenet of principle-centered negotiation is insisting on objective criteria. According to Fisher and Ury, “If trying to settle differences of interest on the basis of will has such high costs, the solution is to negotiate on some basis independent of the will of either side—that is, on the basis of objective criteria” (p. 82).

In Getting to Yes, Fisher and Ury have taken an interpersonal and psychological activity and reduced it to a paint-by-numbers approach. I have been able to apply many of the concepts set forth in Getting to Yes to achieve resolution in negotiations that would have otherwise produced some less desirable result. The book’s approach to negotiation will help readers to resolve disputed matters while fostering good working relationships. I plan on keeping this book nearby.

Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership.

Howard Gardner. 1996. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. 400 pages.

Reviewed by William J. Kohnen, Analog Devices Inc.


We are shaping the world faster than we can change ourselves, and we are applying to the present the habits of the past.

—Winston Churchill

On the surface, Leading Minds by Howard Gardner appears to be another biography of great leaders that may provide interesting trivia suitable for downtime reading. What Gardner achieves, however, is far more valuable to professionals in organizations that are searching for leadership in what is now accepted as a constantly fluid environment. Simply put, the objective of the book is to provide a better understanding of the feature of effective leadership.

The book contains three main sections. The first section introduces readers to Garden’s concept of cognitive leadership. Specific areas covered include a general discussion of what makes the phenomena of leadership possible, as well as the types of stories that leaders tell. At the crux of cognitive leadership is the idea that leaders have a story to tell that is different from the present state yet is compelling enough to make people want to change.

The second and most extensive section presents examples of leaders and their experiences. The stories of leadership are drawn from a broad spectrum, including business, politics, religion, science, and education. There are familiar stories, such as Alfred Sloan, Martin Luther King, and Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as lesser-known stories of Robert Maynard Hutchins, Margaret Mead, and George Marshall. Each story is 15 to 20 pages, and as the author states: “the leaders were carefully and strategically chosen in order to reinforce the argument of the book” (p. x). One could argue endlessly about specific leaders to use as examples; however, the author does not suggest that anyone referenced is necessarily the best, so for his purposes his selections seem reasonable and support his work.

In the final section Gardner presents what he identifies as the six constants of leadership: story, audience, organization, embodiment, direct and indirect leadership, and expertise. Essentially a leader must have a central message that is easily understood, that people can abide by, and that is addressed to a specific audience. To support and propagate the story the leader must have an organization and depending on circumstances and position, will lead directly or indirectly. Finally some level of domain expertise is important to establish credibility. If one were to consider W. Edwards Deming in the field of quality it is possible to reflect on how the six constants applied in his case.

Story:

Total quality management tools will improve performance.


Audience:

Business and government organizations


Organization:

Deming Institute, ASQ, U. S. government


Direct and indirect leadership:


Direct with organization he consulted with; indirect with those who studied his material


Expertise:

Doctorate in statistics, experience

Finally Gardner introduces his concept of the exemplary leader. Signs that a person may fit this role from early on include public speaking skills, keen interest and understanding of others, and willingness to confront authority balanced with an understanding of when to hold one’s tongue (pp. 285-286). Interestingly, above-average intelligence or academics are not required. Although individual traits alone do not create an exemplary leader there must be circumstances that refine and mold the traits and ultimately call for them to be used. Before one aspires to become an exemplary leader the ultimate result is a fall that is brought about by changing circumstances, a story that is to narrow or broad, or overwork by the exemplary leader. On the other hand, the ordinary leader-manager can expect reasonable success without the life encompassing upheaval experienced by an exemplary leader.

In summary, this book will be helpful to those who find themselves moving toward leadership positions and those who are already there by suggesting an interesting framework for leadership, providing interesting examples, and identifying specific leadership traits.

Marketing Plans That Work: Targeting Growth and Profitability.

Malcolm H. B. McDonald and Warren J. Keegan. 1997. Newton, Mass.: Butterworth-Heinemann. 288 pages.

Reviewed by Trish Drew, St. Mary’s College of California

Marketing Plans That Work is a thorough analysis of the development of a marketing plan. McDonald and Keegan are both professors from Cranfield School of Management and Pace University, respectively. They have developed software programs for strategic marketing planning. They share with readers a global perspective on marketing strategy.

The authors set out to provide readers with a thorough discussion on the development of a marketing plan. The areas of organizational and management structure have been considered, making this an effective tool for many types of organizations. The authors stress the importance of analyzing the customer base, and maintaining the intimacy with the desired customer base in order to keep the marketing plan relevant. This includes the important component of updating the marketing plan to fit the dynamics of the industry specifically and the business world in general. I have found this the case with internal marketing plans developed for the senior project. Changes that have occurred in the business world since August 1, 2001, have affected some of the original objectives. Overall, McDonald and Keegan provide a relevant and useful format upon which to build the marketing plan.

One very important component of the marketing plan discussed in chapter 2 is the situational analysis. This analysis, which includes a SWOT analysis, should include both internal and external review and strategic analysis, and all aspects should be compared with the mission and vision of the organization as a whole. Their concepts fit within traditional management principles of planning and organizing. The authors state: “The function of the plan is to determine where the company is, where it wants to go, and how it can get there” (p. 27).

Important to the audit and planning stages is recognition of the customer’s needs. This is a very important concept that many organizations overlook. McDonald and Keegan state, “Research has shown that there is a direct link between long-run profitability and the ability of a firm to understand its customers’ needs and provide value for them” (p. 4). This is also discussed in more detail in chapter 4 when readers are asked to audit market attractiveness as it relates to their product(s).

Another important concept is the interaction between marketing, sales, and advertising. This concept is discussed in depth in chapters 6 and 7 as the way that an organization communicates with its customers. The authors point out that “Companies continually experiment with the mix of communication techniques they use in an attempt to become more cost effective...” (p. 101). This reinforces the importance of continually reviewing the organization’s marketing plan in both internal and external perspectives. The analysis that the organization performs in chapters 3 and 4 is the basis for the continual review that the organization must perform regularly in order for its marketing plan to remain effective.

In the opening chapter the authors discuss that fundamentally there is “no difference whether we are marketing furnaces, insurance policies, or soft drinks” (p. 6), but they recognize that there are differences in the “emphasis” of the marketing. For example, services are generally marketed through personal selling and contain an element of trust because there is no physical product. In practicality, however, the authors do not emphasize these distinctions in the subsequent chapters, which would be helpful for developing a marketing plan for service or nonprofit organizations.

McDonald and Keegan include a practical method for reinforcing the book’s concepts. At the end of each chapter are a series of questions titled “Questions Successful Companies Ask.” These questions allow readers to summarize their interpretations from each chapter with the authors’ interpretations of how the information is successfully applied. These questions are an excellent starting point for a summary of the principles found in the book as they relate to one’s own organization. The questions from the chapters on analysis and developing objectives and strategies were helpful in reviewing the marketing plan developed for the senior project plan.

In summary, the book’s attributes include a thorough discussion of development of marketing plans with systematic instruction in achieving the plan. The authors include a series of thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter, allowing readers to relate their own organization to the methods used by successful companies. While the book does not do justice in the systematic instruction for a service or nonprofit organization, it does reveal many important concepts relative to marketing and how marketing is pivotal within an organization.


Fast Track to Quality: A 12-Month Program for Small to Mid-Sized Businesses.

Roger Tunks. 1992. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc. 292 pages.

Reviewed by Marcie Bidou, St. Mary’s College of California


Fast Track to Quality demonstrates the author’s area of expertise. Roger Tunks is a master regarding total quality management (TQM), which is what this book is about. Tunks is president of the Richard-Rogers Group, a management consulting firm specializing in TQM training, and is an acclaimed educator and highly regarded TQM consultant and speaker. Tunks also has 22 years of experience as a consultant to various industries throughout the United States. Fast Track to Quality provides managers with an action plan to develop and apply TQM in small to mid-size companies.

The major theme of Fast Track to Quality is to provide managers with an understanding of the proven technology of TQM and the positive results that other companies have welcomed. Tunks’ description of quality is “... everyone in an organization consistently seeks to improve the quality of products and services by performing error-free work the first time and every time” (p. xi). TQM is the successful method Tunks describes to achieve quality as illustrated previously. Tunks wrote Fast Track to Quality to provide managers with a useful tool that would empower and instruct them regarding how to apply TQM within their organizations. According to Tunks, if TQM is successfully applied within an organization, managers will be rewarded with benefits, including becoming more competitive in the marketplace as well as increasing profits (p. xi).

In Fast Track to Quality, Tunks demonstrates a step-by-step process that provides managers with a successful method of achieving TQM within their companies in a relatively short timeframe and with minimal cost (pp. xi-xii). In Part One of Fast Track to Quality, Tunks outlines what TQM is and why it is so important to organizations. According to Tunks, “Total quality management is the involvement and commitment of both management and employees to conduct business by consistently meeting or exceeding customer expectations” (p. 13). This is no simple task, and Tunks makes it clear that managers must place TQM as a top priority—right along with budget and schedule (p. 11).

By achieving TQM, Tunks states that companies will enjoy increased customer satisfaction, enhanced image and reputation, increased customer loyalty, higher productivity levels, improved employee morale, and greater profitability (pp. 17-19). These reasons should entice managers to try TQM. Tunks also adds that poor quality costs organizations in a variety of ways, including lost business, defects produced through manufacturing, and repairing or replacing products.

After Tunks lists what TQM is and why it is so important, he goes on to outline a fast-track paradigm. The paradigm describes the sequence of events necessary to make TQM a success. These events include TQM awareness training, leadership training, planning, conducting external and internal quality audits, and having all managers meet in a management forum to discuss what has been achieved through TQM. Tunks also lists several fast-track quality strategies for managers to introduce to their organizations. These include employee empowerment, self-managed work teams, competitive benchmarking, skill training, setting organizational direction, conducting quality audits, employee suggestion programs, and so on (p. 152).

I find Tunks’ ideas in Fast Track to Quality to be extremely valuable. I have worked in a customer service type organization for the past 11 years, and the majority of it has been chaos. Most of the reason behind the chaos is the lack of a formal process for customers to request service. Many employees also lack commitment and accountability in serving clients. It seems that adopting TQM would change that significantly. Tunks’ outline of the TQM process and the steps that managers must take to successfully implement it are very thorough. The book is divided into four main parts, which makes it easy for readers to find what they are looking for. I think the book is well organized and the information is meaningful. Tunks does an excellent job of demonstrating why TQM is important, as well as how managers can implement it successfully.

A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative. Third edition.

Roger von Oech. 1998. New York: Warner Books Inc. 232 pages.

Reviewed by Cristelle O’Connor, St. Mary’s College of California


The ability to be creative in today’s business world has become a priority for many companies. If a company is to be successful then innovation and change are required. Roger von Oech, in an effort to assist people to think creatively, has written A Whack on the Side of the Head. In his book von Oech attempts to help readers be more creative by suggesting ways to overcome obstacles that block their creative processes. He explains techniques to change the way people look at issues and problems that will enable them to view them in a new light, ask questions, and not follow the status quo. “Creative thinking involves imagining things in a fresh light, questioning assumptions, and discovering connections among various phenomena” (p. 195). In an attempt change the reader’s mindset von Oech suggests that people “transform one thing into another” (p. 11).

Roger von Oech is the founder and president of Creative Think, a consulting company that specializes in creativity seminars and products. To give readers the information they need to be creative, von Oech starts with the assumption that everyone can be creative. He describes what he calls “mental locks,” which get in the way of our creative process and suggests how to “look at what they are doing in a fresh way” (p. 198). Some of the blocks to creativity are: 1) trying to find the right answer: not looking for alternative solutions, 2) following the rules: not wanting to upset the status quo, 3) being practical: not asking “what if,” 4) the fear of being a fool: not asking out-of-the-box questions, 5) the fear of making mistakes: not being a risk taker or learning from mistakes, and 6) the self-fulfilling prophecy: belief that a person is not creative therefore they are not. With the description of each of his 10 mental locks, von Oech spells out the causes of these obstacles and ways to overcome each one. He provides real-life examples from his past seminars and consulting positions, which enable readers to apply his solutions to their particular situation. In addition, each chapter has several exercises, which cause the reader to think creatively and to look at circumstances not in one or two different lights but with many different points of view.

As reinforcement to his description of the obstacles to the creativity process and how to overcome those obstacles, von Oech details what a person must do to be a creative thinker. A creative thinker must be an explorer, an artist, a judge, and a warrior. It is necessary to be an explorer so one will examine new ideas, and “venture off the beaten path” (p. 174). The artist takes the ideas and information the explorer compiles and looks at it in many different views, rearranging things, asking “what if,” listening to his or her intuition, and breaking or creating his or her own rules. The judge will then look at the idea to evaluate the idea, look for drawbacks, question assumptions, and make a decision as to whether or not to implement the idea. Finally, the warrior will take that idea and put it into action by being the champion for that cause, committing the person to reach his or her objective. These are the things that von Oech says a creative thinker must be to be successful. “Viewed together, these four roles are your team for generating and implementing new ideas” (p. 178).

Throughout the book von Oech describes situations in which a “whack on the side of the head” is necessary to view an idea or situation in a different perspective. For example, he explains that school has taught people to look for the ”right answer” and once they have found that right answer they stop looking. People are rewarded throughout their learning process for finding the right answer by receiving high grades. This process of looking for the right answer has caused people to lose “the ability to look for more than one right answer,” which has diminished people’s creativity (p. 29). He encourages readers to listen to their intuition for often one’s intuition can lead him or her to consider alternatives that one’s logical mind would not contemplate, and to look at things with a positive attitude. He suggests that to be creative one must be destructive as well as constructive. A person may need to “break out of one pattern in order to create a new one” (p. 60). Furthermore, throughout the creativity process a person must be asking questions, such as “what if” and looking for many alternative solutions. Often those ideas that initially seem least relevant become the most important because they point to something that one has completely overlooked (p. 150).

I found this book very enlightening. The author is successful in telling readers how they can become a creative thinker. There are many good suggestions that can be used in real-life situations. The examples provided offer many viewpoints, which makes it easy to relate the situations to one’s own business environment. The exercises in each chapter caused me to try and come up with alternate solutions that I might not have considered in the past. They forced me avoid the obvious and ask the question, “What is he really trying to say?” It was also beneficial to have a summary at the end of each chapter with tips on applying the lessons learned to everyday situations. I enjoyed the chapter that details where von Oech got his ideas for creativity, Heraclitus of Ephesus. This brief history of creativity is interesting and will cause to me to research this Greek philosopher further. I recommend this book to everyone; it will cause one to think carefully about the “right answer.” “Believe in the worth of your ideas, and have the persistence to continue building on them” (p. 170).

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