Continuous Improvement in the History and Social Science Classroom -- Grades 6-8

Shelley C. Carson, ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202, 2000, 127 pp., member $23, list $28.50. (book)

It is heartening to see the methods of quality control introduced into the middle grades of 6-8. This book advocates the use of team building, of facilitation and of the Shewhart system of plan, do, study and act in the classroom situation.

The objective set forth is to achieve continuous improvement through involvement of class members in self-evaluation, in reflective learning and in active participation in all phases of the curriculum for history and social science. Tools such as scatter diagrams, affinity diagrams and random tests play a role in this system.

There are some important measures proposed for the application of these quality control techniques. Early involvement in the setting of class aims and goals brings the students as workers and customers, the teacher as team leader, and the family together as a team.

The success of the process is monitored throughout the school year by continued use of charts that measure enthusiasm and learning. Feedback is nurtured in drawing from the students their thoughts about the role of the teacher and about their own progress.

This beneficial guide is an ambitious approach to teaching that promises rich rewards and will help to make already good schools better.

William F. Foster
Vienna, VA

Identifying Environmental Aspects and Impacts

Marilyn R. Block, ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202, 1999, 145 pp., member $27, list $33. (book)

This book provides an environmental management system interpretation and discussion for understanding ISO 14001. Various real life industry, sector and company examples help the reader to follow the process used to identify the aspects, impacts and significance of environmental elements.

The distinction the author makes between operation activities, products and services and inputs and outputs is useful guidance for novices to better understand the identification process.

The book explains methods such as the value chain, material identification and regulatory compliance and makes a strong point of including the quality department and teamwork functions in the success equation.

The author's use of process flow diagrams helps the reader recognize internal hands-offs that identify additional potential environmental aspects to consider.

Example questionnaires make readers aware of adverse and beneficial aspects throughout the systems and processes in their businesses.

In the chapter on assessing environmental impacts, the author stresses that consolidating multiple inputs or combining individual nonsignificant impacts can alter the significance determination, and she emphasizes the importance of concise criteria definitions for inter-rater reliability.

The book does an excellent job of taking a difficult process and making it easy for the reader to follow and understand.

Milton Kowalewski Jr., PE
Kalama Services
Balch Springs, TX

On Target -- Achieving Best Business Performance

David Irwin, Business Press, Berkshire House, 168-173 High Holborn, London, WC1V AA, London, UK, 2000, 232 pp., $31.50. (book)

While the primary focus of this book is quality, it also addresses other business topics such as strategic planning, customer satisfaction, staffing and financial analysis. It starts by discussing business performance measures, then works through practically all of the quality tools including process controls, benchmarking, flowcharting and quality function deployment.

The book is sparse in many areas. The basics are covered, but there is little in-depth analysis. There is one thing that may make this book unique and useful even to experienced business people, and that is how it puts the various business tools and methods into perspective.

This book provides a business "journey" that describes how each of the tools is related to the others and how they fit in and interact. The author likens leading a business to driving a car, the dashboard providing you with quantitative information about your progress, such as speed, mileage and fuel. This approach helps the reader to see how and when a tool is used or could be applied.

Anyone looking for something other than a superficial review would not find it useful.

Eric Furness

Pressing Problems in Modern Organizations (That Keep Us Up At Night): Transforming Agendas For Research and Practice

Robert E. Quinn, Regina M. O'Neill and Lynda St. Clair, Editors, AMACOM, American Management Association, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 1999, 290 pp., $34.95. (book)

The pressing problems addressed in this book are divided into two broad areas: people problems and process problems. These problems, according to the editors, have resulted from "companies demanding better performances from their employees while providing them with less security in an environment filled with ambiguity and uncertainty."

Readers should be aware that this is an academic effort and not a quick reading "pop management theory of the month" book. It is a research and theory based effort with comprehensive references and end of chapter bibliographies. The chapter authors are distinguished faculty, practicing professionals or doctoral students.

Each chapter begins with an excellent description of the particular problem, which is followed by qualitative interview data and a discussion of current, relevant research data. The chapters conclude with implications for future research, conclusions, and, in some cases, recommendations or potential corrective actions.

Overall, it is an excellent addition to organizational behavior research and a must for practicing or teaching organizational behavior professionals.

John Richards
SRA International
San Antonio, TX

Insights to Performance Excellence In Education 1999: An Inside Look at the 1999 Baldrige Award Education Criteria

Mark L. Blazey, Karen S. Davidson and John P. Evans, ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202, 1999, 222 pp., member $33.50, list $40.75. (book)

This book examines systems and practices that enable organizations of all types to achieve "optimum" levels of performance. Its goal is for leaders at all levels to understand how to improve their organizations and regain a competitive edge. To accomplish this, they must understand not only the parts of a high-performance management system, but also how these parts align and connect.

The book also emphasizes the seven major management system elements (leadership, strategic planning, student and stakeholder focus, information and analysis, faculty and staff focus, educational and support process and management and school performance results) and how they are connected to the Baldrige criteria.

The criteria and related scoring guidelines are powerful new assessment instruments that can help leaders of educational organizations identify strengths and key areas for improvement. The 1999 Educational Criteria represent the second stage in the development of criteria intended to focus on educational excellence.

According to the authors, the very complex interrelationships between the community, parents, educators, students, customers, suppliers and partners make building an effective educational management system to drive performance improvement an ongoing task.

Ronald P. Anjard
San Diego, CA

The Measurement Nightmare: How The Theory of Constraints Can Resolve Conflicting Strategies, Policies and Measures

Debra Smith, St. Lucie Press, 2000 Corporate Blvd. N.W., Boca Raton, FL 33431, 1999, 208 pp., $39.95. (book)

Although manufacturing and service organizations in every industry have implemented performance improvement methodologies, their improvement efforts frequently create conflict between local optimization and global company performance. In The Measurement Nightmare, the author argues that disappointing performance is a result of the measures rather than the methods employed. In a number of case studies, she presents examples of situations many readers may find surprisingly similar to their own experience.

The author's primary purpose is to clarify the dilemma companies face with standard measurement, accounting and management information systems by illustrating the conflict between throughput measures and financial statements. She then discusses the manner in which this gap can be bridged and the two aligned in an organization's strategic plan.

The Measurement Nightmare should be read by managers in all disciplines before they implement improvement methods such as Kaizen or Theory of Constraints. However, this book should be required reading for all managers currently involved in improvement efforts if they are to be successful aligning measures, work practices and reporting to maximize the return on available resources.

Terry Regel
Quality Management Resources
Mt. Juliet, TN

The Product Recall Planning Guide, Second Edition

(Prepared by) American Society for Quality, 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)

This is an excellent book dedicated to assisting businesses in the establishing procedures that focus on product safety and protection of end users. It provides a method to recall and eliminate potentially defective products from circulation.

Liability prevention remains a key focus of this second edition of a very successful manual that was first published in 1981. This book goes beyond the simple purchase of product liability insurance. The book addresses how to reduce the high cost of handling a product recall in addition to maintaining a comprehensive protection system for lessening the potential for producing defective products.

This is a well-written, timely book and a major improvement over the outdated original edition. The consortium of experts on the ASQ Product Safety and Liability Prevention Technical Group involved in preparing this edition has done an outstanding job.

James F. Jaquess
Southern Energy

ISO Lesson Guide 2000, Dennis Arter and J.P. Russell, ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202, 2000, 66 pp., $6.35 (member), $7.95 (list) (book)

ISO 9000 at the Front Line, William A. Levinson, ASQ Quality Press, 611 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202, 2000, 107 pp., $19.25 (member), $24 (list) (book)

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