The Creative Tools Memory Jogger: A Pocket Guide For Creative Thinking
Diane Ritter and Michael Brassard, Goal/QPC, P.O. Box 329, Lawrence, MA 01842, 174 pp., $7.95.
This fascinating little tool is really one- third of an available package that includes a Coach's Guide ($29.95), and a CD-ROM with 187 overheads.
The Memory Jogger is packed with creativity tools in the form of flowcharts, tables, cartoons, puzzles and aids to problem formulation. The compendium of tools is designed to spur the user to a creative approach for any problem with which he or she may be confronted.
In its introduction, the little book sets the stage by first describing how to use the creativity tools, then describing the environments and behaviors that encourage creativity. The bulk of the book, contained in Chapter 4, lists a myriad creativity tools for use by managers, facilitators and team leaders. Under the heading "Other Great Stuff" the user can find techniques for stimulating discussion and problem solving through questioning, problem formulation, development of assumptions, idea matrices and storyboarding. "Activities to Enhance Creativity" offers seven puzzlelike activities for which answers are provided in the appendix.
The Memory Jogger contains a plethora of information that can provide a useful set of tools for facilitators, managers, and team leaders. A user can apply these techniques in planning meetings and problem-solving sessions, or as a guide to thought while traveling to a conference or meeting.
The creativity tools listed are not for everyone. The user who would benefit most would be one with an analytical mind who can learn from flowcharting, tabulation, tables, and even from puzzles. In the hands of such a user, the Memory Jogger can be a very valuable and useful aid.
William F. Foster
The ISO Auditors Are Coming
Quality Quest, 2117 Williamsburg, Arlington Heights, IL 60004, $495.
The ISO Auditors Are Coming does well in explaining basic ISO requirements that pertain to the average employee, but could have been more comprehensive in covering the 20 elements of ISO 9001. If case studies had been included for each ISO 9001 element, it would not only have prepared employees for the audit, but helped explain ISO requirements--making it a well-rounded training tool. Additional knowledge could have been gleaned, and a larger audience reached, if the video included some QS-9000 information.
As is, the video is a good tool to prepare existing employees for participation in the audit process and would work well in new employee orientations. The notes for the facilitator were good, and the video portrays generally accepted auditee behavior.
The process used to deliver the video's concept--bad scenario, discussion, good scenario and last, a review--is good. The picture and sound quality are excellent. At first the acting seemed a little over the top, but the actors strive to make a point. The length is good, but I expected more for the price.
There were a few inaccuracies in the video--possibly due to a poor script. In the 10th scene, the auditor says, "You failed." This is incorrect auditor behavior. An auditor would not and should not say an auditee failed. Additional improper behavior can be found in an exemplary scene, where the auditee appears nervous and "performs" for the auditor. Some review points were also incorrect. The "unique document number," for example, should read "unique I.D."
While the video does do a good job of introducing the auditor's visit to employees who have never undergone an audit, it should have explained more about why audits are done. Such training materials need to present audits as positive events that help unveil opportunities for improvement and fix problems. Instead of demonstrating how working honestly with auditors helps the organization grow, The ISO Auditors Are Coming emphasizes honesty for the wrong reason--employees better be honest, because the auditor will catch those who aren't.
Mary Symoens, quality manager
Valeo Electrical Systems
Managing in a Team Environment
John Robert Dew, Quorum Books, 88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881, 1998, 168 pp., $55.
This book provides current theories on how to successfully manage in a team environment. The information cited could certainly serve as a practical outline of specific actions necessary to achieve success in this area.
The author does not specifically address business process improvement strategy or the redesign of an organization, but instead focuses on team concepts and how to implement these concepts using practical examples from his own experiences.
While many organizations are successfully moving toward some form of workplace democracy, a balance must be achieved between the interests of the investors (owners) and the desire for democratic processes. This balance is the responsibility of management, which must recognize and carefully mold team function with organizational goals.
The author adeptly covers the basics of team culture, ownership, goal setting and planning while providing a well-written description of team performance indicators. In addition, the text addresses in detail the integration of process improvement and team function.
The book includes a chapter that addresses the educational process involved with transforming a traditional supervisor into an empowering team leader. Changing leadership behavior from autocratic to participative presents many challenges. The author addresses what is necessary to accomplish this task, while conceding that some managers may be more difficult to convert than others.
This book will be useful to managers at all levels of an organization who are seeking ways to improve organizational effectiveness. Understanding team concepts and the advantages of participative management is important in today's competitive environment.
As an interesting read with a lot of practical examples, this book would be a welcome addition to any manager's library.
James F. Jaquess
Southern Energy, Inc.
Project Management Estimating
AMACOM, 9 Galen St., Watertown, MA 02172, $295.
Project Management Estimating is a high-quality CD-ROM designed for project management beginners. While the program should not be used as a daily project management tool, it could be very useful for those who learn better using interactive tools.
The course is broken down into six lessons with material on well-known concepts and techniques such as critical path and elapsed time vs. effort time. The program offers pretests that identify whether users are knowledgeable enough to skip a section, and post-tests to determine how well the material in each section is understood. A bookmark option allows the user to return to the program at a later time and begin where he or she left off--even if the program was stopped in the middle of a section. * While the screen layout and display were very nicely presented and the video portions were of high quality, I found much of the material and instructions to be "dumbed down." The help screens reviewing the setup and layout of the program assumed users had no computer experience whatsoever. Even though the acting wasn't bad, the actors seemed to talk down to viewers--at one point, the narrator says, "This is a mouse. We will use the mouse during this course." It is doubtful that someone with so little computer know-how would rely on computer-based tools for learning.
The on-line help was not useful due to over-simplified content. In order to find information on a topic, users have to run through the entire canned program. A knowledge management tool with a keyword index, or sort, would have been a welcomed and valuable feature.
Even though the printing speed was outstanding, the printed page layout suffered. When printing the student report, for example, only the text prints--no header and no value-added information--is supplied from the printed page.
This reviewer called the technical support number twice and never spoke with anyone directly. Two phone messages were left--each with a return phone number--but the technical support desk never returned the calls.
The CD-ROM does offer a good training tool for those working with staff new to project management techniques. The program's content, however, is not particularly sophisticated and the developer seems to be relying on fancy technology to deliver fairly straightforward and simple information. There are several books on the market that cover the same information equally well or better than Project Management Estimating.
Lisa Stambaugh, program manager, process engineering
Manual on Experimental Methods of Mechanical Testing of Composites
Edited by C.H. Jenkins, The Fairmont Press, 700 Indian Trail, Lilburn, GA 30047, 1998, 254 pp., $109.
The quality engineer should have a keen interest in this book, which explores the science and technology of measuring the characteristics of composites.
Composite materials are widely used in aerospace and auto industries as the basic construct of a structure. Thus, understanding the mechanical property of a material through the life cycle of its application has recently become a major interest to material scientists and mechanical engineers.
This manual is a compilation of 26 articles that address the general theory of composite materials; strain measurement; fundamental test techniques; optical, acoustic, and thermal methods of analysis; and methods of damage evaluation.
As one of the authors, S.C. Max Yen, points out in the preface of the book, "There are two major barriers that must be resolved before composite materials can be used as load-carrying structural components in such applications. These two issues are (a) the development of a low-cost, high-volume, high-quality fabrication process and (b) the development of a total quality controlled life-cycle design." These two issues are not limited to composite material design and fabrication. They apply to the basic principle of the design and manufacture of any highquality product.
* This book is appropriate for professionals or engineers who use composite materials in their applications. It is a valuable resource for the quality professional who needs to deal with material quality issues in order to understand the meaning of measurement for composites.
Shin Ta Liu
Supercharging Supply Chains
Gene Tyndall, Christopher Gopal, Wolfgang Partsch and John Kamauff, John Wiley & Sons, 605 Third Ave., New York, NY 10158, 1998, 269 pp., $39.95.
This book explores the many ways in which supply chain management can help companies enhance operational performance. It is the authors' contention that operational excellence is the essential component of increased shareholder value. The ideas presented in this book will allow management the opportunity to evaluate its current operations and implement innovations where appropriate.
Numerous management issues are examined concerning performance. The first chapters deal with shareholder/enterprise value, the impact of supply chain management and the key characteristics of operations that enhance value.
The following chapters then examine the supply chain process, including demand and supply planning, the importance of operational excellence in increasing sales, strategic sourcing and supplier management, logistics and the marketplace power of distribution and transportation processes, and new product introduction and marketplace viability.
The final chapter brings it all together to demonstrate how an integrated, high-performance supply chain benefits the bottom line.
I found the book to be well-written and organized. The authors often use mini case studies from published articles as examples to emphasize key points. In addition, key ideas are summarized in tables. A final strong point of the book is the section at the end of each chapter called "Ask Your Managers." This section raises key questions that must be addressed to improve operational performance.
The primary audience for the book would seem to be senior executives in manufacturing companies. However, any manager or executive interested in achieving operational excellence and global supply chain success would benefit from the strategies and improvement ideas contained in this book.
Fisher Controls International
The World According To Peter Drucker
Jack Beatty, Broadway Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10020, 1999, 204 pp., $18.95 (paperback).
This is definitely not a book for everyone. In order to comprehend the journey and the many side roads taken by the author, the reader should be familiar with the majority of Drucker's books. At first read, this book appears to be a compilation of intellectual subessays on good and evil as perceived by Drucker at different periods of his writing career. It is, at times, difficult to assess Beatty's perspective of Drucker's work as well as comprehend his writing. A reader would benefit by having a dictionary nearby.
According to Beatty, Drucker affected the course of events for many large organizations, such as General Motors, General Electric, IBM and the American Heart Association. He was considered the man who invented corporate society, was the originator of professional management as a practice and the inventor of management by objectives (MBO).
The author praises Drucker for his vision of things to come, such as the advent of what is now called reengineering, the rediscovery of the oceans as an economic resource, and the changes that came about as the knowledge worker came to the forefront.
This is a well-researched overview of the management guru's contributions and devotion to helping organizations improve.
Russ Westcott, president,
R.T. Westcott & Associates
Beyond Productivity: How Leading Companies Achieve Superior Performance by Leveraging Their Human Capital, Gregory G. Dess and Joseph C. Picken, AMACOM, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 1999, 256 pp., $27.95.
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.
The 4 Barriers to Quality: Building Business Infrastructures for the 21st Century, Bruce Snell, Ordway Anderson Publishing, P.O. Box 3168, Newport Beach, CA 92659, 1997, 325 pp., $19.95.
The Information Paradox: Realizing the Business Benefits of Information Technology, John Thorp and DMR's Center for Strategic Leadership, McGraw-Hill, 11 W. 19th St., New York, NY 10011, 1999, 261 pp., $29.95.
Management Dilemmas: The Theory of Constraints Approach to Problem Identification and Solutions, Eli Schragenheim, St. Lucie Press, 2000 Corporate Blvd., N.W., Boca Raton, FL 33431, 1999, 209 pp., $19.95.
The Next Common Sense: Mastering Corporate Complexity Through Coherence, Michael Lissack and Johan Roos, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 1163 E. Ogden Ave., Naperville, IL 60563-8535, 1999, 232 pp., $25.
Quality & Me: Lessons From an Evolving Life, Philip B. Crosby, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 350 Sansome St., San Francisco, CA 94104-1342, 288 pp., $30.
Quality Team Learning for Schools: A Principal's Perspective, James E. Abbott, ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., P.O. Box 3005, Milwaukee, WI 53201-3005, 1998, 170 pp. Available through ASQ's Publications Catalog: list price $25, member price $22.50.
Restructuring the Manufacturing Process: Applying the Matrix Method, Gideon Halevi, St. Lucie Press, 2000 Corporate Blvd., N.W., Boca Raton, FL 33431, 1999, 313 pp., $39.95.
Results: How to Assess Performance, Learning and Perceptions in Organizations, Richard A. Swanson and Elwood F. Holton III, Berret-Kohler Publishers, 450 Sansome St., San Francisco, CA 94111-3320, 1999, 282 pp., $34.95.
Success Through Quality: Support Guide for the Journey to Continuous Improvement, Timothy J. Clark, ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., P.O. Box 3005, Milwaukee, WI 53201-3005, 1999, 132 pp. Available through ASQ's Publications Catalog: member price $18, list price $20.
Thinking for a Change: Putting the TOC Thinking Processes to Use, Lisa J. Scheinkopf, St. Lucie Press, 2000 Corporate Blvd., N.W., Boca Raton, FL 33431, 1999, 255 pp., $42.50.