The Boundaryless Organization
Ron Ashkenas, Dave Ulrich, Todd Jick, and Steve Kerr, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 350 Sansome St., San Francisco, CA 94104, 1998, 364 pp., $30. (Book)
This is a book about change--radical organizational management change. It is about rethinking how an organization operates and is structured and about how it must reform itself into a flexible, dynamic entity that optimizes the use of its resources at every level. It is a book about how an organization can survive and succeed in the future. This book attacks the very core of traditional management structure, with all of its walls, boundaries, and limitations.
The book is divided into four sections, and each section deals with one of the four boundaries or limits that the authors describe: up-and-down, side-to-side, external, and geographic. The main theme of this book is that the way things have been done is no longer valid in a dynamic global economy. Organizations that will thrive are those that can leverage all of their resources quickly to satisfy a market need. The Boundaryless Organization shows that the traditional organizational structure and hierarchy that evolved during the 1970s, '80s, and '90s will not work in the year 2000 and beyond.
The authors describe the limits that many organizations have developed on horizontal, vertical, external, and geographic planes. These limits have evolved from ideas of how groups of people should interact and how organizations should be structured to allow management the control that it needs. These same boundaries will now hinder and prevent an organization from reacting to a changing world market.
The authors describe four themes that are critical to making full use of an organization's resources: speed, flexibility, integration, and innovation. Leveraging these resources requires a new way of managing and thinking that includes learning, sharing knowledge, redeploying knowledge, and grouping physical and intellectual assets in new and creative ways.
The Boundaryless Organization describes a strategy of how to make changes that break down traditional limits. It describes a management philosophy that allows ideas and competencies to emerge at all levels, with a concern for process, growth, and directional trends. This change is certainly radical and frightening to anyone raised in the traditional management structure. Direction and control are replaced with experimentation and questioning, allowing new ideas to emerge. The book is well-written and provides numerous current examples of companies that have changed the ways they do business to emerge better prepared for the next millennium. It is necessary reading for anyone wanting to chart a future management course.
Eric Furness, quality assurance
Astronautics Corporation of America
Handbook of Simulation (Principles, Methodology, Advances,
Applications, and Practices)
Jerry Banks, editor, John Wiley & Sons, 605 Third Ave., New York, NY 10158-0012, 1998, 849 pp., $125. (Book)
This handbook is concerned with the simulation of discrete-event systems. Simulation is a common tool used by industrial engineers, management scientists, and operations researchers. It is an indispensable problem-solving methodology for large or complex problems. The book contains 25 contributions by 33 authors who are leading academicians and practitioners in the field of simulation.
The scope of coverage is impressive, with five major sections: principles, methodology, recent advances, application areas, and practice of simulation.
The handbook is intended for those who want to apply simulation to important and complex problems. Newcomers to simulation will benefit from a simulation overview in Chapter 1. Infrequent users of simulation can brush up on techniques and new applications. Another informative section discusses the advantages and disadvantages of simulation. There is also an overview of typical applications and sequences of steps in a simulation project.
Readers can easily find chapters that will clarify almost any question or issue that may arise during design and implementation of simulation projects. The reader does not have to review the complete text to extract meaningful and useful information. There is a blend of theory and application, but the numerous chapters favor the practitioner. The handbook is an excellent reference for areas of application, such as manufacturing, material handling, logistics and transportation, military simulation, and scheduling, and for industries such as automotive, health care, service, and communications systems.
Specific chapters cover simulation methods such as variance, reduction techniques, design of experiments, regression metamodels, graphical techniques, sensitivity analysis, and optimization. One chapter is dedicated to new areas such as object-oriented simulation, parallel and distributed simulation, and on-line simulation.
Uniformity of composition and structure ensures a consistent readability. Each chapter is supplemented with good examples to strengthen the author's explanation of principle. Chapters are not biased toward a particular simulation software, although Banks does summarize software selection criteria and lists attributes of several software packages in the last chapter.
The Market Makers: How Leading Companies Create and Win Markets
Daniel F. Spulber, McGraw Hill, 11 W. 19th St., New York, NY 10011, 1998, 313 pp., $24.95. (Book)
The author has adapted the primary elements of market making in the financial community to the business world in general. Market makers are defined as companies that create something entirely new, whether it be a new product or service, or a better way of introducing that product or service into a specific market.
Numerous practical case studies are included, from such cutting-edge firms as NationsBank, Sun Microsystems, Toyota, Dell Computer, and Microsoft. Adopting the approach outlined in the book allows companies to become more focused on their market and individual clients, which, in turn, usually results in increased sales.
The author emphasizes that winning markets means attaining superior performance over the competition in terms of market share, profitability, and product quality. Steady improvement of product and service is imperative for continued market growth. The market-based strategies outlined in the book are especially useful for companies entering a new market and seeking competitive advantage over incumbent firms. Successful offensive and defensive strategies that offer efficient transactions for each client must be developed. In other words, companies succeed by focusing on activities that provide the greatest economic value to the customer. Again, customer focus is the key to every successful strategy.
The text is well-organized and contains a logical outline of actions necessary to define and accomplish corporate objectives. The book defines winning markets, describes how a firm can create value for its customers, and provides an in-depth description of the elements necessary to develop successful market strategies.
Spulber's book will be most useful to managers who are involved in the development and implementation of market strategies, regardless of their industry. The reviewer highly recommends this book not only for its academic value, but also for its practical application.
James F. Jaquess
Lockwood Greene, Atlanta, GA
Process Mastering: How to Establish and Document the Best Known
Way to Do a Job
Ray W. Wilson and Paul Harsin, Quality Resources, 902 Broadway, New York, NY 10010, 1998, 152 pp., $35. (Book)
Process mastering means documenting the standardized methods used within a company. It is not a process improvement or reengineering scheme.
In Chapter 2 of this book, Wilson and Harsin list the recommended methods for this documentation process. They begin by providing a flowchart and then work their way through by describing each step. The process is performed by a team of process experts (people who do the work) and supporters of the process (safety, quality, union leaders). Working forms for this process are provided in the appendix and are general enough for use in any industry. Uses of the forms are discussed throughout the book, and examples are provided.
Chapter 3 provides a good description of management's role in process mastering, from rollout to closeout. This role includes selecting the processes' support and recognition upon completion. The authors provide advice for management (based on their own experiences) on how to select processes that will be valuable and will bring success to the team.
Chapter 4 provides stories about companies that have implemented the process-mastering documentation system and includes pitfalls to avoid and tips to follow.
Keep in mind before you buy that the book is slightly outdated. The use of teleconferencing to link team members located at different divisions is not mentioned, and although the book is a good tool for companies working toward ISO certification for the first time, the examples drawn from the ISO 9000 series standards will soon be out of date due to the revision of those standards.
Process mastering works for any situation where a process needs to be documented. Standards and technology may change, but process mastering will still be a tool that you can use in your company.
James F. Jaquess
Lockwood Greene, Atlanta, GA
NextPoint Systems, 940 Saratoga Ave., San Jose, CA, 95129-3428, 1999, $995. (Software)
The promotional material for the QualiDocs software package states that the product helps maintain quality system standards for ISO 9000, QS-9000, Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award criteria, and any other quality system or compliance plan. To this degree, the product functions very well.
The software performs as a database manager of documentation and supporting system applications. The QualiDocs package also integrates its document and change management functions with corrective action, audit management, and nonconformance recording.
For the most part, the program is thorough and offers current information without a lot of technical jargon. I found it very easy to use, and installation wasn't a problem.
Other than the program's fast screen update and high print speed, however, nothing about this package really impressed me. I was disappointed in the program's poorly laid out screens, and found file manipulation and data entry operation average when compared to similar software products on the market. In all, it is an average package with some above-average features.
John O. Brown
Process Improvement 2000: Interactive Tools Training for Continuous
Frax, 2 First St., San Jose, CA 95113, 1999, $495.
A great program for teaching the seven basic tools of quality problem solving, this CD-ROM explains the hows and whys of the tools: when to use them and how to apply them to solve real problems. The information offered is applicable to both manufacturing and service environments.
The audio introduction is fantastic in presentation and delivery, and is one of the highlights of the product. This introduction alone is a great training tool and an excellent way to review problem-solving techniques with more experienced staff.
Overall, the product is extremely good with accurate and well-presented content. Thorough case studies make a great addition to the interactive program, and exercises require students to demonstrate what they have learned concerning tool selection and application. Trainers will appreciate the software's ability to track students' scores on these exercises.
While the installation was relatively simple, I needed to call the manufacturer, Frax, with some questions. I found its service area very supportive and quick to provide a resolution to my problem.
Frax says the CD-ROM can be installed on a server and played over a network. I thought the screen refresh rates were excellent, as were the screen designs and display quality. The program's features worked well together, and it was so simple to navigate that it could be used by all members of an organization.
Process Improvement 2000 is a comprehensive product and a worthwhile investment for training programs that involve quality problem solving.
William M. Bryant
The Ultimate Book of Business Gurus
Stuart Crainer, AMACOM, 1601 Broadway, New
York, NY 10019, 1998, 314 pp., $24.95. (Book)
This book compiles and summarizes the contributions of many of the most important and well-known business gurus in the world. About half of the summaries are two to three pages long, while the summaries about lesser-known gurus are two to three paragraphs long. Each of the longer summaries includes a quote, breakthrough ideas attributed to that particular guru, key books, career highlights, and a bibliography. The reviews are mainly objective, with a hint of the author's views appearing occasionally.
The list of business gurus reviewed in this book is well-balanced, although one might think some choice nominees are missing. Each summary is, by necessity, brief, but informative and inclusive. The bibliographies for some of the gurus are incomplete.
The summaries are all very readable and comprehensible. Jargon is minimal and is explained if an uncommon term is used. The reviewer learned quite a bit about the source of many of today's business ideas: their history as well as the context in which they originated. The material may prompt the reader to learn more about some ideas and gurus and wonder why other ideas and gurus had fallen out of favor.
This book is intended for those who need a quick summary of business guru ideas and their sources. The index is well-organized and easy to use. The book can serve as a good starting point for further investigation of particular ideas, schools of thought, or techniques. This book will go on the reviewer's bookshelf as a starting-point reference rather than the ultimate book it claims to be, but it will be a valued resource and will be well-thumbed in no time.
Marc A. Feldman
The Complexity Advantage: How the Science of Complexity Can Help Your Business Achieve Peak Performance, Suzanne Kelly and Mary Ann Allison, McGraw-Hill, 11 W. 19th St., New York, NY 10011, 1999, 244 pp., $24.95. (Book)
Integrating ISO 14001 Into a Quality Management System, Marilyn R. Block, and Robert Marash, ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., P.O. Box 3005, Milwaukee, WI 53201-3005, 1999, 174 pp. Available through ASQ's Publications Catalog: member price $31.50, list price $35. (Book)
The Creativity Tools Memory Jogger: A Pocket Guide for Creative Thinking, Diane Ritter, Goal/ QPC, P.O. Box 329, Lawrence, MA 01842-0629, 1998, 180 pp., $7.95. (Book)
Establishing a System of Policies and Procedures, Stephen B. Page, BookMasters, 2541 Ashland Rd., P.O. Box 2139, Mansfield, OH 44905, 1998, 134 pp., $25.95. (Book)
The Helix Factor: The Key to Streamlining Your Business Processes, Michael R. Wood, The Natural Intelligence Press, P.O. Box 785, Marmora, NJ 08223, 1998, 163 pp., $26.95. (Book)
Implementing Your Strategic Plan: How to Turn "Intent" Into Effective Action for Sustainable Change, C. Davis Fogg, AMACOM, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 1999, 419 pp., $65. (Book)