Gage Mentor

Resource Engineering, PO Box 219, Tolland, CT 06084-0219, 1999, $1,295. (CD-ROM)

Gage Mentor fills the gap that currently exists among materials used to teach basic gage and application management. This CD-ROM promotes a thought process concerning the why, what and how of measurements, and it provides a comprehensive introduction to measurements, gaging applications and gage management.

Divided into two parts, the course teaches the fundamental principles of measurement and the practice of dimensional metrology. The course's first half explains measuring techniques such as using gages and reading drawings involving geometric dimensioning and tolerancing. Part two addresses aspects such as overseeing calibration, conducting measurement system analyses and managing gages.

Those dependent on the accuracy of measurements, employees with little or no experience in gaging and those that are new to the company benefit from the course's introductory nature. Existing personnel, on the other hand, find a structured presentation that expands their knowledge and reviews gaging practices and principles.

The course is completely structured, and training can be scheduled to fit each student's needs. Individual training paths are selected based on the user's experience with metrology and his or her objectives. Learning progress can be measured by the individual and monitored by a trainer if desired.

The accompanying workbook contains valuable information such as conversion tables, formulas and other reference materials that are noted in the course. The glossary is particularly helpful, but it neglects to reference gage repeatability and reproducibility-- a prominent topic.

Gage Mentor's interactive features are well-planned, easily accessible and effective. The utilization and design of graphics are adequate, but there is some redundancy concerning the use of photographs.

While Travis Larkin's primary narration is well spoken and distinct, a sing-song modulation is present that becomes distracting and monotonous after a few hours. The narration provided for the self-test exercises, however, is eloquent and adds a refreshing contrast.

The large scope of information available through this interactive, attention grabbing medium is certainly an advantage to the user. Similarly, the course offers companies the advantages of self-directed multimedia training. More importantly, perhaps, Gage Mentor is a worthwhile investment for organizations working to attain or maintain ISO 9000 certification and a strong tool for companies looking to increase and promote quality awareness.

Howard N. Wilson

Corporate Citizenships: Successful Strategies for Responsible Companies

Malcolm McIntosh, Deborah Leipziger, Keith Jones and Gill Coleman, Financial Times-Pitman Publishing, 1101 King Dr., Suite 444, Alexandria, VA 22314, 1998, 288 pp., $26.95. (book)

This book discusses the question of the social responsibility and ethical behavior of a modern corporation in a global economy. The authors touch on practical and ethical issues, including risk avoidance, product standards, business competence and relationships between communities and individuals. The book focuses on a wide range of organizations--private, public and government--and covers the relationship between being a good corporate citizen and increasing the value and reputation of a corporation.

Several corporate case studies are analyzed; however, the authors should have included more private corporate profiles, especially those that deal with social responsibility. It is easy to identify with the well-defined responsibilities of most government and public entities, but establishing responsibility in a private enterprise is more difficult.

The case studies are presented with accuracy and are extremely interesting. The reader can easily identify with the issues because the companies the case studies are based on are well-known. The basic theme of the book is that responsible corporate activity is a fundamental business issue.

The book is most beneficial to managers involved with strategic planning decisions. The text is designed to help managers develop a business strategy that creates a positive social footprint, which in turn will result in business growth and financial rewards. It is a valuable addition to any management library and should be added to the reading list for students studying ethics in management.

A discussion of the relatively new global standard of social accountability, SA 8000, is also included. This standard addresses how companies can assess, monitor and influence social accountability internally and externally. The reference list of associations, interest groups and networks that support the philosophy of corporate citizenship is another of the book's benefits. This book is definitely a must have for any student of contemporary management.

Jim F. Jaquess
Southern Energy

ISO 9001 Standard, Automotive Requirements QS-9000 And Aerospace Standard AS 9000 Paraphrased: A Quick Resource For Getting Started

Robert W. Peach and Lawrence A. Wilson, Goal/QPC, 13 Branch St., Methuen, MA 01844-1953, 1998, 52 pp., $5.95. (book)

Where was this book a decade ago when people, including quality practitioners, responsible for implementing ISO 9000 had no idea how to interpret the wording of the standard? It seems that everyone, including the registrars, had his or her own ideas. In this book the authors, Robert Peach and Lawrence Wilson, combined their resources and put together an excellent little book that paraphrases all three 9000 series standards (ISO 9000, QS-9000 and AS 9000). Peach needs no introduction to those in the quality field as he has served as chairman of the Registrar Accreditation Board and is coauthor of The Memory Jogger 9000 and editor of The ISO 9000 Handbook. Lawrence has written two books, Eight-Step Process To Successful ISO Implementation: A Quality Management System Approach and How To Implement ISO 9000. He also led the U.S. delegation to the ISO International Working Group in preparation for the next revision of ISO 9001:9004.

This book is a must have for individuals or companies that are interested in implementing any of the 9000 series standards and are having difficulty understanding the language of the standard. Taking the standards' jargon and rewriting it so that it is easily understandable, this book is an excellent tool that can be used as a training aid and as a resource for upper management.

The authors made every effort to create a concise book that is consistent with the meaning and intent of the standards. For the actual wording of a particular standard, the reader is referred to the original standard documents. In order to distinguish QS-9000 and AS 9000 paraphrasing from ISO 9000 paraphrasing, the authors marked the text with an automobile icon for QS-9000 and an airplane for AS 9000. The book, however, doesn't contain the QS-9000 customer-specific requirements. There are three pages of terms and their definitions at the end.

The book is small and can easily be carried. I found this especially useful because I was able to find the interpretation and clarification of a particular portion of a standard without having to lug around a large reference guide. It was helpful to see the requirements of all three standards together in one place, and the low cost of the book makes it easy to purchase a copy for each employee to keep as a reference guide.

Wayne Sander
Consultant and contract quality engineer
GE Medical Systems

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. (book)

This book is less about benchmarking--only one chapter and an appendix cover that topic--and more about establishing a need for measurement, designing a measurement process and implementing the process. Because a successful quality initiative depends on data based decisions, this book is a must read for anyone responsible for the quality of management and the management of quality.

Czarnecki states that the most important aspects of any measurement program are:

* Linking measures to a well-planned corporate strategy.

* Integrating measures into daily decision making.

* Using measures to encourage desired behaviors.

When these objectives are met, you will have a successful measurement process.

Lacing his guidance with discussion of several case studies drawn from a wide range of research sources, Czarnecki leads the reader through a series of procedures, such as:

* Staffing a measurements team.

* Identifying appropriate measures.

* Learning about and selecting the proper measurement tools and techniques.

* Designing the process. This procedure includes methods for data collection, analysis, reporting, and testing and evaluating.

* Integrating the process with management of the enterprise.

Special attention is also given to specific key areas, such as internal performance, customer satisfaction, benchmarking and business process reengineering. The Baldrige criteria are introduced to show that emphasis is placed on measurement and data based strategic decisions.

Here are some examples of key observations I gathered while reading the book:

* The act of translating vision or strategy into measurable objectives forces specificity.

* A measurement program means nothing unless it is also able to modify behavior.

* Measurements are comparisons. The raw numbers are of no value without some baseline to compare them to.

* Measurement programs are forced to make trade-offs between precision and the practicality of collecting data.

* Measurement is power in the way it influences employee behavior, improves decisions, identifies areas for improvement and points to new products and processes.

* Measurements are often the basis for incentive compensation.

* Measurement is the underpinning of employee empowerment.

* Corporations can get overwhelmed by collecting too much low impact data.

* Successful measurement programs include the functional workers when the company is deciding what to measure.

* The best performing companies periodically revisit measures to ensure they are driving the best results.

* Measurement must be an ongoing program to truly benefit the corporation. That often means a change in company culture to favor using measurement information.

* Measurement programs can be fully functional and low tech simultaneously.

In this book Czarnecki integrates current good management thinking and practices with the establishment and use of measurements. I think this book would be especially useful in preparing for the ASQ Certified Quality Manager exam.

Russ Westcott
President, R.T. Westcott & Associates

Performance Now

KnowledgePoint, 1129 Industrial Ave., Petaluma, CA 94952, 1996, $119 single user. (software)

The marketing team at KnowledgePoint says the company's Performance Now software puts all of your employee performance data at your fingertips. And, they're right. This exceptional product helps managers with one of the most difficult, and often most dreaded, tasks: employee reviews.

Performance Now helps document employee performance and prepare employee reviews as it allows the user to record performance against goals and appraisal elements. The software provides a comprehensive list of key performance factors and ratings. Data entry is performed by simply clicking the proper performance rating--it couldn't be easier. The program generates text based on how the user rates the employee. While this text seems ideal--a logical and natural flow free of inappropriate wording--the user can edit the review anyway he or she sees fit.

More importantly, the program is flexible. Users can customize every detail imaginable, including the performance elements. This allows the user to capture any required information specific to his or her company. The step by step instructions in the user manual make changing any preset elements simple.

Another strength comes in the form of an advice button. Accurate, concise and helpful guidance is just a click away as this unique function gives users advice on specific sections of the employee review.

Installation is so simple that this reviewer merely opened the box, installed the program and began entering data. The program is straightforward and thorough, with great looking and self-explanatory screens. The responsiveness and comprehensiveness of this product are excellent.

Performance Now does just what its box promises: It helps the user create fast, easy and effective employee reviews. It provides a helpful start to those working in a company without an established format for employee performance evaluations, yet it's flexible enough for those working in an environment where a structure already exists.

Terry Ehresman
Organizational development
team leader
Bombardier Aerospace Learjet

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