The Book of Five Rings For Executives

Donald G. Krause, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 1163 E. Ogden Ave., Naperville, IL 60563, 1999, 159 pp., $19.95. (book)

In the early 1980s, many classic Japanese books were being touted as must-reads for business leaders because the Japanese had made such great strides and improvements in their businesses. The application of information from these books was supposed to solve many problems, make managers more effective and invigorate business. The difficulty was that the manuscripts were usually vague, and the various translations floating around led to numerous interpretations of the original material. In this book, however, Krause offers an explicit and detailed breakdown of A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi with purposeful reference and application to business competition and success.

Krause is very clear about the liberties taken in his interpretation of the content. For example, my copy of the translation of the original work by Musashi emphasizes strategy as the heart of the matter. Krause, however, concentrates on appropriate tactics and their use in business. The difference is mostly one of perspective as both interpretations convey valuable information on competitive skills and performance.

The strengths of the book lie in its clear analysis and specific examples. Most of the other interpretations of Japanese works provide generalities and lack the essentials. In those texts the reader simply reads a restatement of the original text and does not improve his or her comprehension. Krause is quite unequivocal in his presentation of ideas and their applications.

Such distillation of the rather confusing original text is helpful to anyone who wishes to apply the teachings of a classic work about war and battle to a business or competitive endeavor. Krause summarizes Musashi's philosophy in three concise statements:

1. Always prepare.

2. Recognize reality.

3. Take action.

He also discusses the seven defined principles of order and restates their usefulness to business applications.

Krause's effort to make the material as clear as possible is very effective and much appreciated. His interpretation of Musashi's original work allows for comprehension by the modern reader because the examples chosen from both business and historic battles are pointedly illustrative of the concepts involved. The book eliminates the ambiguity of the original text, and I look forward to reading Krause's other two interpretive books on this topic.

Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Interox
Houston, TX

Implementing Six Sigma: Smarter Solutions Using Statistical Methods

Forrest W. Breyfogle III, John Wiley & Sons, 605 Third Ave., New York, NY 10158, 1999, 791 pp., $90. (book)

Implementing Six Sigma is a thorough book that provides a comprehensive look at what Six Sigma is, and it offers an effective method for implementing a Six Sigma initiative. The book is also an excellent reference manual for the highly trained quality engineer. The author's trademarked approach, Smarter Six Sigma Solutions (S4), covers all aspects of applying Six Sigma within a business context.

Breyfogle breaks Six Sigma implementation into five phases:

1. S4 deployment strategy phase.

2. S4 measurement phase.

3. S4 analysis phase.

4. S4 improvement phase.

5. S4 control phase.

In explaining each phase, the author provides a detailed description of the tools to be used, examples of ways to use the tools in a Six Sigma context and a means of assessing progress in a particular phase.

The book will be useful to individuals responsible for implementing Six Sigma in their organizations. It is also a valuable resource for any quality practitioner, even if he or she has no intention of implementing Six Sigma.

Breyfogle's book is very thorough and covers all the aspects of implementing Six Sigma. It provides a comprehensive overview of all necessary quality and statistics tools, such as failure mode and effects analysis, design of equipment, quality function deployment and statistical process control.

Implementing Six Sigma is a fairly technical book, that the casual reader may find difficult. The volume of content in the book may initially overwhelm an individual with little or no background in statistics or quality tools. Moreover, while the book provides many useful exercises, it does not provide answers to the exercises. Overall, the author does an admirable job of providing a comprehensive, yet systematic approach to reducing defect levels and cycle times. Any organization contemplating Six Sigma will be considerably more prepared for what lies ahead if this book is part of its training process.

Roger E. Olson
Systems Quality Consulting
Alta Loma, CA

Managing With Total Quality Management

Adrian Wilkinson, Tom Redman, Ed Snape and Mick Marchington, Macmillan Press, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS, United Kingdom, 1998, 188 pp., $17.99. (book)

Total quality management (TQM) is widely regarded as the major innovation in management practice of the late 1980s and early 1990s. TQM has been hailed as a thought revolution in management. This book focuses on presenting the most recent documents concerning the theory and practice of TQM. The authors discuss the large body of theoretical and empirical literature on TQM, summarize the results of their TQM research projects and present comprehensive case studies related to TQM implementation in several British industrial and business organizations.

The book is organized into 11 chapters. The first several chapters introduce the purpose of the book, provide a detailed discussion of the key concepts of quality and TQM, and trace the origins and historical development of quality management. The middle section of the book presents a detailed examination of the organizational and human resource implications of TQM, gives an account of the empirical studies related to TQM practice and provides case studies dealing with TQM implementation in various business and industry sectors. The final section of the book summarizes the ideas and concepts presented in the previous chapters and discusses the lessons learned in the case studies.

The key strength of the book lies in the presentation of detailed case studies related to TQM practice in various manufacturing and service organizations. Another strong feature is the comprehensive look at the role of human resource management in TQM implementation. The book is written in a scholarly style and is valuable to TQM consultants, TQM managers, corporate quality directors and other personnel responsible for implementing quality management initiatives in their organizations. The book could also have a significant academic value.

Sohail Anwar
Pennsylvania State University-Altoona
Altoona, PA

The Self-Managing Organization: How Leading Companies Are Transforming the Work Of Teams for Real Impact

Ronald E. Purser and Steven Cabana, The Free Press, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020, 1998, 360 pp., $28. (book)

Purser and Cabana's book shows how some innovative companies are unleashing huge production gains by transforming the work of teams, turning them into self-management work centers. It accepts the premise that the workers know how to manage and control their processes best. Hence, the book shows the benefits gained by the organization when it authorizes employees to design, control and coordinate their own work. Performance improvement examples are cited from firms that have significantly reduced manufacturing cycle times and cut costs.

The authors advocate moving away from the experts with what they call a participative design approach. The approach employs workers to directly analyze and redesign their own work. It focuses on making systematic structural changes to permit self-managed learning and pools knowledge and initiatives for change, creating conditions for mutual trust. To be effective, the approach requires a broad front line using job site knowledge--it's a democratic management approach as opposed to a bureaucratic system.

The authors make a strong statement for the power of participative design noting the intense learning and the extraordinary commitment generated by the people in the design process. In the traditional approach, isolated teams are given a year or more to develop a new design for the entire organization. Purser and Cabana state that many failed reengineering projects have demonstrated that such designs often stay on paper and rarely get fully implemented. With participative design, employees are directly involved in the design process. This allows the employees to develop a depth of understanding and the skill level necessary for accomplishing the mission.

All management will benefit from reading this book. It is about a general subject that should particularly interest functional managers. The approach requires commitment from senior and middle managers because they are the ones who must lead the effort for participative design in an organization.

I was very pleased with the book. Anyone making systematic organizational and cultural changes will relate to the efforts required to make participative design work. The book's strengths rest on the experience of the authors, who make a proactive statement for participative design but at the same time display the requirements of the environment necessary for participative design to work. Having experienced participative design personnel in place will allow businesses to expand faster.

John J. Lanczycki
Creative Planners
Danbury, CT

Sierra Vista: Customer Response Management

Lynk Software, PO Box 5498, Scottsdale, AZ 85261, $2,400 per server. (software)

Are you looking for a way to log all of your customer and supplier complaints (both internally and externally), have them readily available, assign corrective action, find and eliminate recurring problems, and dazzle your customers with your responses? If you said, "Yes," then Sierra Vista: Customer Response Management from Lynk Software will suit you just fine.

The power of Sierra Vista is the 17 data files that are conveniently arranged for any type of manufacturing or service organization. Sierra Vista makes setting up and organizing the files very easy because the files are dependent on each other. Once the files are entered into the database, they are easy to maintain--all it takes is some planning and organization in the beginning. Customer and product files from other databases can also be imported to Sierra Vista to ease the data entry process during the initial setup procedure.

The software is very user friendly, with pull down menus for ease of selection. Data entry follows a logical flow of events and is enhanced with a historical display of all existing records along with the status of each selected customer. Once the problem or complaint is entered, it can conveniently be assigned to a primary response giver who can further assign individual members tasks or actions to take.

Reports can be generated and viewed at the click of a button on 10 menu items, or an individual summary report can be generated by complaint. Bar, pie and line charts are available in nine different categories and can also be viewed by trends. User defined queries selectively retrieve specific information from the database. Search capabilities allow for the identification of similar problems or complaints so further preventive action can be taken. Both e-mail and automatic data insertion are supported in Sierra Vista, as well.

I found Sierra Vista to be more than just a data management program used to gather information that sits idle until someone decides to analyze it. Instead, it offers superior features, simple operation and communi- cation tools that assign people, take corrective action and resolve individual and recurring problems. Do not think that this software is just for manufacturing companies. It is also applicable to distribution, field service, food products and service and support organizations.

In order to get the most out of Sierra Vista you should run it across a network of computers allowing the interaction of all employees, or, better yet, on the Internet to further empower customers and suppliers.

Wayne Sander
GE Medical Systems
Dousman, WI

Winning in Business With Enterprise Project Management

Paul C. Dinsmore, Amacom, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 1999, 220 pp., $39.95. (book)

Paul Dinsmore's book is about permeating corporations with the philosophy, psychology and methodology of project management. The case is compelling. As early as 1962, J.M. Juran wrote about managerial breakthrough and its dependence on professional planning.

Dinsmore writes about the need for professional training and certification and about how the project manager's body of knowledge is central to success. Appendix A contains a list of professional organizations that can assist readers in gaining the knowledge required to build the model. Appendix B contains a listing of consultants and other organizations to help implement the model.

The book will give readers enough insight into the way the enterprise project management program works. Dinsmore uses plenty of illustrations and organizes his presentation in such a way that it gives readers not only the theory behind the model, but also a road map for deployment. If you are in a fast paced organization developing new products and services, you should read this book carefully.

The only problem I had with the book was the labeling of the chapters as principles. Principle nine, for example, states, "Extensive education, training and modeling of proper project practices throughout the organization are needed to make enterprise project management work." Principle is a big word. The chapter labels make good points and should be considered, but they are not principles.

If you manage projects, programs or processes, this book deserves some attention. It offers some good advice and a deep understanding of an important methodology.

John Zavacki
ITT Automotive
New Lexington, OH

Recent Releases

Anbar Management Abstracts, Number 5 of 6, 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 subscription. (book)

Apollo Root Cause Analysis: Effective Solutions to Everyday Problems Every Time, Dean L. Gano, Apollonian Publications, PO Box 8018, Yakima, WA 98908, 1999, 184 pp., $19.95. (book)

Value Management, J. Jerry Kaufman, Crisp Management Library, 410 Sutcliffe Place, Walnut Creek, CA 94598, 1998, 96 pp., $12.95. (book)

Customer Driven Healthcare: QFD for Process Improvement and Cost Reduction, Ed Chaplin and John Terninko, ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202, 2000, 316 pp., member $60, list $75. (book)

Games That Teach Teams: 21 Activities To Super-Charge Your Group! Steve Sugar and George Takacs, Jossey-Bass, 350 Sansome St., 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104-1342, 223 pp., 2000, $39.95. (book)

Insights to Performance Excellence 1999: An Inside Look at the 1999 Baldrige Award Criteria, Mark L. Blazey, ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202, 1999, 308 pp., member $33.50, list $40.75. (book)

The Product Recall Planning Guide, Second Edition, Product Safety and Liability Prevention Interest Group, ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202, 1999, 84 pp., member $18, list $22. (book)

Remaking Teams: The Revolutionary Research Based Guide That Puts Theory Into Practice, Theresa Kline, Jossey-Bass, 350 Sansome St., 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104-1342, 1999, 152 pp., $39.95. (book)

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