Breaking the Constraints to World-Class Performance

H. William Dettmer, ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., P.O. Box 3005, Milwaukee, WI 53201-3005, 1998, 288 pp., member price $27, list price $30. (book)

Breaking the Constraints to World-Class Performance is about learning to think in terms of system constraints. A system is a number of connected or interrelated elements that work toward one common goal.

According to Dettmer, by applying the theory of constraints (TOC), a system-level management philosophy originally developed by Eliyahu Goldratt, one can improve systems and systems thinking. TOC is described by Dettmer as "the application of the scientific method to the challenges of managing complex organizations."

The TOC thinking process is composed of five basic logic tools, one subtool, and several logic rules. The five logic tools support the integrated thinking process:

  • What to change? (current reality tree)

  • What to change to? (create idea--conflict resolution diagram)

  • What to change to? (test idea--future reality tree)

  • How to cause the change? (overcome obstacles--prerequisite tree)

  • How to cause the change? (step-by-step execution--transition tree)

Most of the book deals with how different diagrams should be built and used within an organization. It also contains a number of examples from companies that use these five tools.

Although Dettmer says that TOC will not replace total quality management (TQM), he presents this methodology as something revolutionary. He claims that "TOC provides the means to turbocharge TQM." I believe a systems approach is an essential part of TQM. Therefore, after reading this book I was not convinced that TOC is more powerful than TQM. In fact, they are quite similar. Both emphasize systems thinking and use various tools to implement change.

The book is intended for anyone who wants to understand how to apply TOC's thinking tools without becoming lost in the theory. It is fairly well written, and the text is clear and easy to follow. Executives and management seeking a systematic approach to TQM for business improvement can certainly benefit from this book.

Bengt Klefsjo
Lulea University

ISO 9000: A Legal Perspective

James W. Kolka, International Forum for Management Systems and ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., P.O. Box 3005, Milwaukee, WI 53201-3005, 198 pp., member price $26.95, list price $29.95. (book)

Kolka is definitely qualified to address the legal aspect of ISO 9000. He was a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association for 35 years and developed comprehensive programs that mesh ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 with the goal of reducing a company's exposure to product liability and product safety and services liability lawsuits in U.S. markets.

The book begins with a brief introduction of the ISO 9000 standard, its origin, and the structure of the ISO 9000 series and its 20 elements. Chapter 2 continues with legal implications and the negative exposure that a company could face if it does not have an ISO 9000-based system.

Chapter 3 focuses on product safety and the importance of documentation to support the system. The author makes a good point when he states, "The good news about ISO 9000 1/2/3 registration is that a company now has a paper trail in the event of a lawsuit...and the bad news is that the same company now has a paper trail in the event of a lawsuit. The quality of a company's paper trail is what will determine whether ISO 9000 1/2/3 registration will be helpful to the company."

In Chapter 4, Kolka identifies the necessary elements for developing a preventive legal program that includes risk management methodologies, warnings and instructions, and methods of preventing product liability lawsuits involving component parts. He concludes the book by describing the impact of ISO 9000 on the international marketplace and includes an explanation of the European Union's (EU) modular approach as applied in its "new approach" safety directives.

The appendix has an excellent overview of the ISO 9001 clauses and their meanings, an EU directive on product liability and safety, and the Japanese guide to product liability law.

Kolka is helpful in suggesting that companies go beyond ISO 9000-1 and focus more on ISO 9004-1 because it raises liability issues and exposures that are not addressed with ISO 9000-1, but deserve serious attention.

Company attorneys and engineering managers will probably dread this book, especially those who work for ISO 9001-registered companies with design requirements. But if applied properly, it should help strengthen a company's ISO 9000 quality system.

Wayne Sander

The Power of 360° Feedback: How to Leverage Performance Evaluations for Top Productivity

David A. Waldeman, Ph.D., and Leanne E. Atwater, Ph.D., Gulf Publishing, 9284 Baythorne Rd., Houston, TX 77040, 1998, 147 pp., $24.95. (book)

The current hot topic in performance feedback and evaluation is the use of 360-degree feedback. This approach uses performance feedback from superiors, peers, and subordinates to provide a more comprehensive performance assessment. Each of these groups may provide a different perspective in its feedback. Additionally, one group may be aware of strengths or weaknesses that are not evident to the other groups. The authors of this book have attempted to describe the effects of the 360-degree process on organizational culture and performance.

As with any new initiative, there are advantages and pitfalls of implementing a 360-degree feedback process. The authors address several significant considerations for a successful implementation effort.

First, the organizational context into which the initiative is to be introduced must be considered. In determining the probable receptiveness of the organization, it is important to understand the effects of the internal and external environment of the organization. The current state of the organization is defined by the effects of past and current activities, strategies, and events such as downsizing, globalization, the effectiveness of reward systems, the existence of a quality improvement culture, and the success or failure of past initiatives.

A second consideration is whether the feedback will be used for employee development or performance evaluation. The authors provide several examples illustrating how the use of feedback for evaluation purposes may cause increased resistance from employees and result in less honest feedback.

A final consideration is the need for evidence of behavioral changes as a result of the feedback. If there is no evidence that the feedback is effective in changing the behavior of the rated employee, then the rating employees will quickly begin to view the initiative as a waste of time rather than as empowerment. All organizations must thoroughly consider these issues to develop an effective implementation strategy.

This book is best suited for senior executives and human resource professionals seeking information concerning why they should implement 360-degree feedback and how to do so effectively. It is not designed to provide detailed guidance for tactical implementation of the feedback process or the creation of feedback surveys. Instead, it addresses the strategic aspects of implementation. By considering these aspects, the strategic decision makers may be able to transform 360-degree feedback from just another fad into a valuable addition to their company's human resource program.

Rich Anderson
Raytheon Systems Company
Old Saybrook, CT

Preferred Futuring

L. Lippit, Berret-Kohler Publishers, 450 Sansome St., San Francisco, CA 94111-33201, 1998, 230 pp., $24.95. (book)

Preferred futuring is a proactive process whereby all aspects of change are considered and steps to a desired outcome are arrived at by consensus. The process is more than just an extension of problem solving. It is a logical progression of reviewing, identifying, and implementing history, values, beliefs, events, trends and developments, preferred future vision, action goals, plans, rehearsals, performance, and follow-up.

While it is important to acknowledge the history and evolution of a process, too often Lippit lapses into reverie about various parts of the process. Fortunately, this does not distract from the message and information being presented.

One of the strongest assets of this book is the step-by-step guidelines used to illustrate successful implementation of the topic being covered. There are a number of extremely comprehensive checklists, which are very useful, and sample agendas for meetings are provided. Illustrations of designs that did not succeed are reviewed and analyzed. The author also does an exceptional job of reviewing techniques without assuming that the reader already knows them or will learn them elsewhere. All the examples are well chosen and appropriately illustrate the process.

If you have a major modification that you need to implement, this book is excellent for providing a starting point and an outline for action. Application of preferred futuring is directed toward many different arenas, not just business processes or community action. The planning process is thoroughly detailed with no missing pieces, and alternate approaches are reviewed and rehearsals are encouraged.

While I was familiar with most of the techniques and practices presented in this book, I found it to be an excellent reference and a surprisingly comprehensive and helpful blueprint for enacting change. The approach is well considered and reality checks are built in. Following this process is sure to increase the probability of success for any company engaged in modification of its present status into its preferred future.

Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Intervox, Inc.

Quick Response Manufacturing: A Companywide Approach to Reducing Lead Times

Rajan Suri, Productivity Press, P.O. Box 13390, Portland, OR 97213-0390, 1998, 570 pp., $50. (book)

Quick response manufacturing (QRM) is a manufacturing strategy that aims to reduce lead time in the manufacturing process while reducing costs and improving quality.

For decades manufacturing companies have told their customers that when it comes to high quality, low cost, and fast response times, they can have any two, but they cannot have all three at the same time. In this book Suri presents evidence that it is possible to have all three.

He presents compelling arguments to explain that many of the organizational structures, manufacturing layouts, manufacturing systems, management methods, performance measures, and reward systems put into place to manage scale and costs are actually responsible for increasing lead times as time goes on. As a result, these structures, systems, and methods have to be rethought and restructured to reduce lead times and costs while improving quality.

Since QRM focuses on reducing the total time required from when an order is received until it is shipped, it includes processes not done on the manufacturing floor, such as sales, order entry, procurement, testing, and shipping. Therefore, according to Suri, fine-tuning or speeding up current processes would not be enough to improve quality. A company would need to completely restructure the manufacturing process to see any improvement.

Suri leads the reader to a clear understanding of how manufacturing companies have arrived at where they are now. He then shows the reader step-by-step what has to change across the entire organization in order to reduce lead times. The final chapter provides 15 steps for implementing QRM.

This is not a book that you can finish in an afternoon. It is, however, well written, with many easy-to-understand examples and numerous case studies. The author provides ample evidence to support the many ideas that fly in the face of conventional manufacturing wisdom.

Roger E. Olson
Systems Quality Consulting

SurveyWin, Version 4.0

Raosoft, 6645 NE Windermere Rd., Seattle, WA 98115-7942, 1999, $495. (software)

The user guides for most PC and UNIX-supported commercial packages--which have been fairly well accepted in the marketplace--state the features of the software clearly and concisely for a prospective, not necessarily technically oriented, user. Such is not the case with Raosoft's SurveyWin, version 4.0 software.

In short, the software is supposed to collect data electronically from surveys, feedback materials, and the like. Raosoft says SurveyWin tracks and analyzes such data and offers users the opportunity to create reports, surveys, and other types of forms.

The confusion begins with the user guide's introduction. There is no obvious explanation of SurveyWin's primary features, and the user is left asking which type of software it is. Is it a database? Is it a report writer? The guide defines the product as an "integrated statistical database." This definition seems nothing more than marketing or academic verbiage at best. The use of a database for statistical analysis should be obvious, but that relationship does not come across clearly at all from the user guide.

The user guide does not adequately address error messages or troubleshooting tips that appear while using the software--which are especially needed by computer novices. There is no mention of the seriousness of these messages and no explanation on resolving such problems. This is a critical oversight or a wrongful omissions--something many would consider unforgivable-- on the part of the developers.

Raosoft offered a list of users to be contacted regarding their satisfaction with the product. This reviewer contacted three current SurveyWin users to discuss their opinion of the software. Since Raosoft offered these individuals as contacts, I was surprised when all three volunteered reservations about the quality of the package's accompanying documentation. One user said he believed Raosoft "skimped" on supporting documentation in favor of software development and the desire to get to market quickly.

Each of the three users also mentioned poor interface quality. A particular user thought the program could not adequately handle reasonable amounts of data--which would cause stress for this user.

The three users did think the product's survey data collection and analysis features were above average. One of the users added that the software demonstrated good package reliability.

Installing the software was easy, but actually learning to use SurveyWin was difficult, at best. Uninstalling the software did not work as directed.

While a help function is provided, it didn't always work when called upon. For example, the supporting materials explain that if SurveyWin is left temporarily, the user can return and continue where he or she left off. To accomplish this, the help command instructs the user to select a "don't install" option returning the user to the appropriate SurveyWin window. This did not happen. There was not a help screen available to assist in navigating back and forth between screens, and even though a tutorial exists, it was vague and of marginal help.

It was encouraging to see the software cover data management, particularly security and validation in the context of the world of the late '90s. The product, however, needs significant improvement to be reasonably competiitve in the marketplace--a revamping of the user guide's contents, for example. The excessive hype found in SurveyWin's materials and in the program itself didn't live up to its promise.

Jon R. Prescott
ASQ member

Toolkit for Quality Assurance Series 5

Qudos Management Services, 5 Mahler Pl., Burpengary, QIL, 4505 Australia, 1999, $265. (software)

This is a nice package for anyone who needs to create an ISO 9001 or 9002 system for the first time. A direct and easy-to-use software product, Toolkit for Quality Assurance offers comprehensive and accurate information with features and examples that integrate extremely well together.

The developers include more service-oriented examples over the manufacturing cases prevalent in most other software products of this type. This is a nice touch and makes the software applicable to a wider audience. An excellent user guide book is also included to assist users in building a sound, fundamental ISO 9000 system.

While the software was very easy to install, the ads for other products in the presentation section were a distraction and uncalled for. The program did have a good printing speed, but I was unable to open all the forms and, therefore, could not print every one.

There is one particular problem buyers need to be aware of. Much of the software will be of little to no value when the ISO 9001-9002 revision goes into effect. The developer does not mention whether a free upgrade will be offered when this occurs. The software is advantageous for beginning ISO 9000 strategists of today but will quickly be outdated once the upcoming ISO revisions are finalized

James L. Bossert
ASQ Fellow

Anbar Management Abstracts, edited by David Pollitt, MCB UP Limited, 60/62 Toller Ln., Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD8 9BY, England, 1999, 200 pp., $77.99 for an annual suscription.

Best Practices in Customer Service, edited by Ron Zemke and John A. Woods, AMACOM, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 1998, 414 pp., $39.95.

Engines of Prosperity: Templates for the Information Age, Gerardo R. Ungson and John D. Trudel, Imperial College Press, 203 Electrical Engineering Building, Imperial College, London, SW7, 2BT, England, 1998, 389 pp., $25.

Improving Data Warehouse and Business Information Quality, Larry P. English, John Wiley & Sons, 605 Third Ave., New York, NY 10158, 1999, 518 pp., $44.99.

Managing By Measuring: How to Improve Your Organization's Performance Through Effective Benchmarking, Mark T. Czarnecki, AMACOM, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 1999, 284 pp., $34.95.

The New Global Leaders, Richard Branson, Percy Barnavik, and David Simon, Jossey-Bass Publishing, 350 Sansome St., San Francisco, CA 94104, 188 pp., $28.50.

One Best Way: Trajectories and Industrial Models of the World's Automobile Producers, edited by Michael Freysennet, Andrew Mair, Koichi Shimuzu, and Giuseppe Volpato, Oxford University Press, 198 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016, 1999, 476 pp., $100.

Strategic Outsourcing: A Structured Approach to Outsourcing Decisions and Initiatives, Maurice F. Greaver, AMACOM, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 1999, 314 pp., $39.95.

Fundamentals of AutoCad: Release 14, prepared by Steven Combs and Jay Zirbel, Prentice-Hall, One Lake St., Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458, 1999 , $20. (A book is included with this software.)

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