Quality Management Journal Book Reviews - October 2002 - ASQ

Quality Management Journal Book Reviews - October 2002

Contents

Beyond Race and Gender: Unleashing the Power of Your Total Work Force by Managing Diversity.

R. Roosevelt Thomas Jr. 1992. New York: Amacom. 189 pages.

Reviewed by Edward M. Brown, University of Phoenix

The thesis of this book is “managing your total work force” and becoming a change agent for diversity. According to Thomas, the idea for this book began when a corporate manager wanted to develop something that would help white males manage their black employees. Beyond Race and Gender does not call for ignoring race and gender, but for recognizing that they are part of a larger, more complex picture and that sustainable progress with these issues in corporations will have to be based on the managerial perspective. Additionally, the notion does not call for abandoning the traditional affirmative action perspective grounded in motives of legal, moral, and social responsibility but rather for the expansion of this perspective.

The Hudson Institute, which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, research organization and think-tank, conducted a landmark study. According to this study, women and minorities will constitute about 85 percent of the new entrants into the work force. When assessing the labor market, it becomes evident that the culture is changing drastically, as the number of white males in management has decreased from approximately 49 percent to 45 percent in the last five years. Women and minorities are no longer interested in changing their culture to be assimilated by the corporate structure, therefore the corporate management culture would have to change to better manage everyone. This includes white males, women, and minorities.

The book states that for this to happen, one must first access the roots of the organization, which are the CEOs and presidents. This book gives excellent examples of step-by-step progression of this process and is patterned after the total quality initiative implemented by the Japanese some years ago. Where the Japanese culture is homogeneous, however, American culture is not. Affirmative action is on the way out, and while affirmative action opened some doors, managing diversity offers a viable alternative for addressing the legal, moral, and social responsibilities that affirmative action fostered. A bonus is getting total productivity from one’s work force, not to mention outdistancing the competition.

Thomas speaks with knowledge as evidenced by experience with Fortune 500 companies. The only problem seems to be that racism and sexism are still issues to be addressed. Some white males are not going to listen or read to find out how to address this problem until they are faced with a crisis. I recommend this book as an effective management tool.

 

The Congruent Life: Following the Inward Path to Fulfilling Work and Inspired Leadership.

C. Michael Thompson, and Robert A. Johnson. 2000. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass. 368 pages.

Reviewed by Irene Kim, University of Phoenix

The author of this book, C. Michael Thompson, is an executive coach and a spiritual director. The book’s purpose is to change how readers feel about work and their personal lives. No one wants to take work home after a long and arduous day, and no one likes to bring his or her personal life to work. Bringing one’s personal life to the forefront of the corporate world is considered unprofessional. It conveys that one is unable to juggle work and life simultaneously, affecting productivity at work. Society has always stressed the importance of a “successful career.” Thompson goes in depth about the true meaning of a successful career and what one does when he or she achieves such an accomplishment. He writes that in the journey to achieve one’s goals, people often lose sight of the whole purpose as they struggle through the difficulties of their careers. Trials and tribulations in people’s professional lives inevitably affect their personal lives. Thompson attempts to pass on his views and the possibility of creating the “congruent life” through his own experiences.

It is obvious that Thompson “finds” God. He was a vice president of a Fortune 500 company when he realized that his career was not everything he thought it was going to be. Some successful people acknowledge God throughout their careers—that He was the one who helped and guided them to their successes. When the congruent life is actually achieved, they enjoy it to the fullest without uncertainty, but with gratitude.

Thompson’s book has good intentions, especially for corporate heads who have yet to find their spiritual side. It is true that society drives individuals to their limits and expects perfection. People are so caught up in trying to acquire professional success that they forget why they want it in the first place. This culture creates stress mentally, physically, and emotionally. Thompson’s book is enlightening and brings one’s head out of the clouds. It helps readers remember why they want to achieve professional success. Those who lose sight of their direction during their career would be fortunate to come across The Congruent Life: Following the Inward Path to Fulfilling Work and Inspired Leadership.

 

Differentiate or Die: Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition.

Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin. 2000. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 230 pages.

Reviewed by Rhiema Acosta, University of Phoenix

There are so many products and services on the market today that consumers are beating their heads trying to decide what to buy. Jack Trout, a recognized marketing guru, was the first of many to popularize the idea of “positioning” products and ideas in the minds of consumers.

The authors state that in many ways, anyone can be different while avoiding the lure of things that sound different but really are not. Consumers are given so many choices that it is often difficult to figure out what one wants. This is where differentiating becomes important. The authors warn of achieving differentiation by being creative, cheap, customer oriented, or quality driven. These are things competitors can do as well. If uniqueness is ignored and as a businessperson one tries to accommodate everyone, he or she can quickly undermine what makes whatever it is different. In the purchasing process, consumers are influenced by what they hear. Consumers do not know what’s going to work and unless they try it. With people’s busy schedules and other tasks, consumers save time by going along with what they hear. An example that the authors used was hot chicken. Would one be more likely to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken or Chick-Fil-A? They would probably choose Kentucky Fried Chicken, because it has been well known for many years.

Trout and Rivkin state that quality and customer orientation, creativity, and price are not differentiating ideas. Because most competitors have read the same books and have taken the same courses, these things do not help in a competitive world. As the economy improves, consumers have become more demanding. Individuals who work in a customer service setting are often told that the customer is always right. According to this book, “We were told the customer is a collaborator. The customer is the CEO. The customer is king.”

Today, advertising is not as effective as it once was. There are too many products, and consumers are confused. It seems as though strategy is lacking in the marketing industry. The book suggests that information can help by not looking so much like advertising. “One way of overcoming the mind’s natural stinginess when it comes to accepting new information is to work hard at presenting your message as important news,” writes Trout. Consumers are limited to how much information they take in and store. Some advertisements try to entertain so much that the news factor in their story is overlooked.

Finally, “price is often the enemy of differentiation,” meaning that attempting to be different should be worth something. Skimping on a service that one provides or on a product that one is trying to sell won’t work. Either the service is bad or the product is not reliable, resulting in a loss of a business client or customer. Making money should not be the main concern when there is competition. If a company expects to make money off what it is marketing, the company must make sure that whatever it is providing is the best. The authors use Wal-Mart as an example. The saying “everyday low prices” has been used by Wal-Mart for years and has worked. Wal-Mart had been around for so long that by the time Kmart and Target came along, Wal-Mart had the cost advantage to support its claim.

I have experienced the stress of deciding what to buy. Buying laundry detergent should not be hard, but it is. I have noticed that my decision often relies on what I have heard about a certain brand. I also consider how long the product has been on the market. I usually find myself scratching my head debating what to buy. Now that I have read this book, however, it should not be as hard.

 

When Generations Collide: Who They Are. Why They Clash. How to Solve the Generational Puzzle at Work.

Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman. 2002. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc. 352 pages.

Reviewed by Patricia M. Kohnen, ChevronTexaco, San Ramon, Calif.

The authors of this book are from different generations, and together they started a company called BridgeWorks in 1997. The mission for the company is “to bridge the gap between generations by helping people look beyond their own perspectives to understand the events, conditions, values, and behaviors that make each generation unique.” In their book they describe four generations and offer many examples of what they call ClashPoints, which are those trouble spots where generational conflicts are most likely to explode. In the introduction the authors state, “We’ve come to see the generational issues as the newest and hottest form of diversity on the business scene today, and we continue to be amazed by how many major business issues, like recruiting, retaining, managing, and motivating employees, are directly affected by generational collisions.”

The book jacket gives a high-level introduction to the four generations. “Traditionalist employees with their heads down, onward and upward attitude live out a work ethic that was shaped during the dark days of the Great Depression. Meanwhile, the 80 million Baby Boomers are at a crossroads, trying to balance their overwhelming need to succeed with their desire to slow down and enjoy fruits of their labor. They alternate between admiration and abhorrence for the chutzpah demonstrated by Generation Xers, who, in addition to feeling as if they have to prove themselves constantly, are chafing under the image of being overly ambitious, disrespectful, and irreverent. Nipping at everyone’s heels are the new kids on the block, the Millennials. With their unique mix of savvy and social conscience, they promise to change yet again the landscape of the workplace.”

There are some birthrates that can be used as guidelines for defining members of the generations, but there is no magic birthrate that makes a person a member of a particular generation. Some people are Cuspers because they are positioned between two generations. Traditionalists are about 75 million strong and were born 1900-1945. The personality of the Traditionalists can be described as loyal. Baby Boomers are about 80 million strong and were born 1946-1964. The personality of Baby Boomers can be described as optimistic. Generation Xers are about 46 million strong and were born 1965-1980. Xers have been marked by skepticism. Millennials are about 76 million strong and were born 1981-1999. One key word that can describe Millennials is realistic.

In the second chapter of the book the authors state, “Our goal is not to put people in a box, but to open up the box so that we can all get a better glimpse of who and what is inside.” The authors assume that their readers “have the moral sense to try earnestly not to use this information to stereotype people, but rather to become better listeners, better observers of the human condition, better bosses, and better friends.”

Several chapters address ClashPoints related to specific issues. Chapter 5 is called “What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?” ClashPoints around career goals are summarized as:

  • Traditionalists: “Build a legacy.”
  • Baby Boomers: “Build a stellar career.”
  • Generation Xers: “Build a portable career.”
  • Millennials: “Build parallel careers.”

Other chapters address ClashPoints related to rewards, balance, and retirement. Later chapters address the changing rules of recruiting, including value propositions in the workplace and orientation. Chapter 15 addresses the challenge of retaining the generations. ClashPoints around job changing are summarized as:

  • Traditionalists: “Job changing carries a stigma.”
  • Baby Boomers: “Job changing puts you behind.”
  • Generation Xers: “Job changing is necessary.
  • Millennials: “Job changing is part of my daily routine.”

Chapters 16 and 17 describe ClashPoints related to feedback and training. The final three chapters focus on when Generation X is the manager, how the generations are reinventing diversity, and the future of the generations at work.

The authors close their book with the following statement: “Bridging the generation gaps at work can provide huge payoffs when it comes to recruiting, retaining, managing, and motivating others. The next time you bump into someone from another generation whom you don’t relate to, stop and remember that no one is right or wrong…we’re just different. Only then will you truly know what to do when generations collide.”

 

Fundamental Concepts of Quality Improvement.

Melissa G. Hartman (editor). 2002. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: ASQ Quality Press. 338 pages.

Reviewed by James B. Kohnen, St. Mary’s College of California

Fundamental Concepts of Quality Improvement is a unique anthology because it consists of well-written material by quality professionals about quality concepts. Melissa Hartman has done yeowoman’s duty in sifting through 30 years of Quality Progress and ASQ Quality Congress proceedings to find 27 articles that reflect the spirit of the quality profession during this period of dramatic change in consumer expectations.

The anthology begins with a recap of the thinking of W. Edwards Deming, J. M. Juran, and Phil Crosby during the formative years as quality emerged from a manufacturing engineering discipline into its own practice with an established body of knowledge. The contributors selected provide an insight into each of these quality visionaries, which lays the foundation for the professional revolution that follows.

The six articles in the next section are focused on teams. All, except the excellent article by R. Keith Denton, were written by multiple authors who also have extensive experience with the formation, use, and demise of teams in the workplace. The six articles present a balanced picture of the team effort, with four articles focused on creating and maintaining various types of teams and two dealing with the prospect of failing teams. All of the authors stress the importance of training and management support to assure that empowered groups can coalesce into teams and achieve their agreed-upon objectives.

Section III deals with continuous improvement and the tools that make it work. The articles selected cover the gamut from the benefits of storyboards used with the plan-do-check-act cycle to benchmarking. The cost-of-quality article promises more than it delivers, and the articles on traditional quality tools were drawn from an informative Quality Progress series that introduced the basics of data documentation. The material selected for this section supports the editor’s claim that, “The very essence of quality is so closely intertwined with continuous improvement that it would be almost impossible to separate the two.”

The final section consists of application articles that seem to soothe the editor’s conscience that the articles selected present “a single concept or tool.” She states that: “The articles in this section integrate a number of different facets of quality improvement.” Except for the article that describes a longitudinal sample of one tossing free throws, all of the articles selected describe continuous improvement efforts in work situations. The use of teams and data to modify an activity was clearly documented. The reported results are impressive and support the notion that continuous improvement can be a value-added employee function.

 

Global Innovation.

Bob Holder and Ned Hamson. 2002. St. Louis, Mo. Wiley-Capstone’s ExpressExec. 132 pages.

Reviewed by Joe Hempen

Global Innovation is written by an organizational effectiveness and marketing consultant and former editor of The Journal for Quality and Participation. Both have been researching, writing, and consulting on innovation for more than 15 years.

The authors suggest that there are countless global innovation opportunities ranging from the development of new economic offerings to workplace and process innovations to the development of new global social, political, and economic institutions. What is surprising is that they do not begin with a discussion of technologies or the Internet, but rather the United Nation’s Global Compact, a set of principles for enterprises to do business in the global economy. They see smart business people using these principles to create new economic offerings, and innovation-producing enterprises, and to address the social, economic, and political concerns of developed- and developing-nation customers.

They identify major global innovation drivers and how they can be used to develop innovative offerings. They also discuss the Internet’s implications. Gone are the days, for example, when a firm can launch an offering in stages. Global innovators recognize that the Internet necessitates worldwide offering launches. The cycle of innovation and a series of ideas for developing innovative offerings are presented. The cycle suggests that a firm needs to engage in forms of innovation that include breakthrough, continuous improvement, and a new discontinuous improvement. The cycle augments total quality management’s (TQM) continuous improvement focus. It also augments TQM’s focus on customers by suggesting the need to scout noncustomers and develop new industries, products, services, and experiences that customers do not know they want until they have them. They also suggest specific methodologies for enacting these ideas and applying the cycle. These include scouting, search conferences, shared learning, and participatory work (PW) conferences. This book provides case studies illustrating how firms and communities have used these methodologies to support innovation development.

Finally, the authors suggest that people are the key to global innovation, not technology. They discuss the conditions for creating an innovative and productive workplace, and they discuss PW conferences as a way to produce these conditions. These conferences are innovative themselves; PW conferences allow those who do the work to design their work.

Why is this book valuable to quality professionals? First, quality professionals can use the Global Compact’s principles, innovation drivers, and ideas, and the cycle of innovation to benchmark their competitors’ global innovation competency. This can be used by quality professionals to develop educational experiences for executives and employees to improve their organization’s capability. Second, quality professionals will learn about a process—scouting—for improving organizational intelligence and learning. Quality professionals can also use scouting to educate executives and employees to discover innovations and learn to customize them to local, regional, and/or national customer desires. Finally, quality professionals can use scouting as experiential learning. Research suggests that certain learning styles require direct contact with others to secure knowledge. This is extremely relevant with tacit knowledge transfer and acceptance. Third, some quality professionals may learn about a strategic planning methodology: search conferences. Search conferences produce a desired future or vision, strategies, action plans, and teams to enact them. Fourth, quality professionals, using the cycle of innovation with scouting, search conferences, and PW conferences, can work with their firms to capitalize on the largely untapped market of the global poor. This will not only allow select firms to develop new markets, but will also allow quality professionals to address a new strategic issue on most CEOs’ plates: global terrorism.

While security has its place, a better strategy would be showing those who would be terrorists that the free-enterprise system and democracy can improve their quality of life. I am referring to the development of new business models, as illustrated by the case study presented in this book, that will provide the global poor not only with products but also with jobs that will support economic development leading to political and social development.

I also believe that Global Compact can be used as a lens for breakthrough and continuous improvement. The compact supports unions. Smart quality professionals could use the breakthrough innovation of labor-management cooperation and/or open-book management to improve both firm performance and the quality of life of workers. Search conferences might be used to improve cooperation and develop new business, third sector and government development models. In fact, one might seek to work with the United Nations, firms and associations that have signed the compact, and nations such as Poland, which require businesses to follow the compact’s principles to do business in their countries to provide training in labor-management cooperation, open-book management, and to develop detailed compact standards comparable to ISO 9000. The latter has already been done in Japan by a committee of business leaders, academics, and government officials.

Finally, readers will gain information about PW conferences, and conditions for productive work and innovation. PW conferences can help real change leaders reduce cycle time, improve customer experience and service, engage in process innovations, and develop an innovation support environment rather than one that discourages it. PW conferences can be an effective alternative to creative and innovation training that, while providing useful information, fails to change the environment and systems.

 

Building a Project-Driven Enterprise: How to Slash Waste and Boost Profits Through Lean Project Management.

Ronald Mascitelli. 2002. Northridge, Calif.: Technology Perspectives. 368 pages.

Reviewed by James B. Kohnen, St. Mary’s College of California

Integration of the theory and practices of lean project management techniques by Ronald Mascitelli in Building a Project-Driven Enterprise is a refreshing book with a very strong message. The book is based on well-documented research that is translated into entertaining prose that suggests effective and practical methods of improving the process of project management.

Mascitelli unfolds the principles, methods, and applications of his vision of a project-driven enterprise in four parts of the book. Each chapter provides specific information, as well as extensive notes that support the theory or practice being discussed.

Part I deals with the traditional elements of project management: cost, schedule, and quality. Each element is examined using the five principles of lean thinking that define the ideal value-created enterprise. Basically the first four principles revolve around the value of the project, and the final one deals with the pursuit of perfection. The operational definition for value is anything that a customer will gladly pay for. It is not surprising that using this definition, waste is clearly identified in each of the elements of a project.

Part II provides 12 ways to optimize value. One of the most intriguingmethods is the use of frequent, brief, stand-up meetings. This very effective technique can assure focused communication of relevant information in a short period of time. An equally productive but more complex issue discussed requires that every project task or activity has both a deliverable and a customer (either internal or external). Here the focus is on only doing value-added work that supports the stated objectives of the project. Collectively, the 12 methods provide a diverse tool kit that a project manager can use to keep his or her project moving toward its established cost, schedule, and quality goals.

Part III focuses on a new product development application. The idea is to replace stage/gate new product development with continuous-flow development. The application is thoroughly explained and illustrated with real and hypothetical examples. One of the more interesting aspects of this segment is the introduction of a “lean quality function deployment” table to map customer needs into product requirements.

Part IV deals with the challenges of building a project-driven enterprise. Again a readily available tool, the Hoshin planning matrix, is modified to connect the project’s goals and objectives to the actual tasks being completed by the project team. This is followed by systematic waste elimination effort using a value-stream map. The result is a highly responsive project management structure that satisfies the customer’s need for value-added cost, schedule, and quality.

 

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