A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge
Project Management Institute Inc., Four Campus Blvd., Newton Square, PA 19073-3299, 2000, 248 pp., $35.95 (book).
The Project Management Institute's A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge is a basic reference for project managers and those seeking certification as project management professionals. The book covers all the aspects of project management and explains the techniques and methods used to keep a project on track and within budget.
The book includes numerous examples, graphs and charts that make the concepts easy to understand. Each section uses a diagram that lists the inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs of the project plan. There are also seven helpful appendices and a comprehensive glossary of project management terms.
The main focus of the book is on project management activities. General management practices and project management's relationship to external processes, such as quality assurance, procurement and human resources, are also discussed.
One area I believe was overlooked in the book was project management software. There should have been more discussion on the different types of software available and examples of how the software is used to manage a project.
That aside, I would highly recommend this book both as a project management learning guide and as a reference.
Astronautics Corp. of America
Finding Your Way In the Consulting Jungle
Arthur M. Freedman and Richard E. Zackrison, Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 350 Sansome St., 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104-1342, 2001, 275 pp., $29.95 (book).
Finding Your Way in the Consulting Jungle is an impressive book. I must confess that my intentions for reviewing this book were personal. Being a consultant, I was looking for a book that would assist me in my practice, provide other consultants with a good resource for improving client relationships and act as an aid in ethical practices. Much to my enjoyment, I was not disappointed.
I found the book to excel in describing accurately what it takes to be a successful consultant in any field. Each chapter is filled with practical advice, worksheets, check sheets and, in some cases, case studies that have real-world applications.
The book is arranged to help consultants chart their way through the jungle by exploring the following paths:
- Developing marketing strategies.
- Answering the question, "Does the organization need a consultant?"
- Providing a description of the types of consultants in the jungle and which types of consultants are best suited for different assignments.
- Discussing the philosophy of consulting, consultant competence and the selection interview process.
- Demonstrating how to write proposals and contracts.
- Managing change and consulting ethics.
Bottom line, this book is worth reading if you are a consultant looking at gaining a competitive edge.
Dove Quality Consulting
ISO Lesson Guide 2000: Pocket Guide to Q9001-2000 Second Edition
Dennis Arter and J.P. Russell, ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., PO Box 3005, Milwaukee, WI 53203-3005, 2001, 71 pp., member $7.50, list $9.40 (book).
This book is more of a booklet, being pocket-sized and less than 100 pages. However, that should not deter you from obtaining a copy. It is a good reminder of many quality practices and principles and how and where they apply to the ISO 9001:2000 standard. Since it is the second edition in less than a year, this version must have been greatly improved.
This book fulfills its mission of translating ISO 9001:2000 into easy to understand concepts and words. It would serve well as a reference for anyone establishing a quality system or preparing for a registration audit. The authors do a good job explaining quality and the essential practices of quality and a quality management system.
The biggest weakness within the book is the lack of actual wording of the ISO 9001:2000 standard. The book logically progresses through the requirement elements of the standard, but without complete sentences from the standard, I often wondered about interpretation and if I was overlooking something.
This book will not be useful to anyone looking to assess compliance to the ISO 9001:2000 standard. It will help personnel understand how what they do fits into the quality system and why they do some of the things that management requires. It will also tie those practices to various portions of the standard in general terms.
Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Interox Inc.
Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork and the Myth of Total Efficiency
Tom DeMarco, Broadway Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036, 2001, 240 pp., $23 (book).
In Slack, Tom DeMarco talks about companies being too busy. Many have adopted a 100% resource use model that ultimately results in employee burnout, missed schedules and other signs that the concept of effectiveness has been sacrificed to that of efficiency. His answer to the corporate world is slack, which shows itself in different ways.
DeMarco defines slack as that which is not subjected to output measures and labor standards and hence has the potential and discretion, whether of time or resources, to invent and innovate at its own pace. For the individual employee, slack is an allowance for less than 100% staff resource use. In project management, it is the allowance for a realistic schedule estimation. For the company overall, it may be the existence of support staff or in a middle management layer.
DeMarco does a good job of showing that many companies lack common sense and insight into workplace realities, and he is particularly effective in describing the impact of these faults on individual employees. I found his application about estimating schedules in project management to be a powerful one.
The book is not just a description and critique of current practices. DeMarco does suggest both individual and corporate responses. Overall, DeMarco is to be praised for his effort.
Temple University Hospital
The Art of Innovation
Tom Kelley and Jonathan Littman, Currency Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036, 2000, 307 pp., $26 (book).
This book focuses on how to unleash creativity within an organization. It is not an academic approach to management, but it does show, through an actual case example, how innovation can spark superior performance.
The authors provide specific approaches to development of an innovative culture and explain how that culture can seem routine. The reader is taken on a behind the scenes tour of IDEO, one of the world's leading product design firms IDEO has developed the Apple mouse, Polaroid's I-Zone instant camera and the Palm handheld device.
Kelley believes in the concept of teamwork. He explains a philosophy within IDEO that develops on the strengths of all team members to unleash creativity to make continuous innovation a way of life. In order to make innovation a major part of a company's culture, management must foster an atmosphere conducive to freedom of expression, thinking outside the box and promotion of teamwork across the entire company. Kelley outlines the process of product development stages and tells how IDEO teams intensely research a market by looking at a product or service from all perspectives, including those of clients and consumers.
Overall, this is an entertaining book to read with a lot of practical applications that apply to most industries to some degree or another.
The Power of Six Sigma
Subir Chowdhury, Dearborn Books, 155 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL 60606-1719, 2001, 128 pp., $17.95 (book).
This is a little book with a great message. Chowdhury makes the power of Six Sigma obvious to everyone. He has developed a charming narrative, which is far from your average explanation of Six Sigma.
You won't learn the difference between Taguchi methods and full factorial experiments here, but who cares? The author is interested in explaining Six Sigma, its benefits to the bottom line and the way it affects a culture. This is the first Six Sigma title I have read that deals with the way the Six Sigma system impacts the spirit of an organization.
Chowdhury is a person who understands quality. His book tells you in an easy to read and logical way how Six Sigma works, what a Black Belt does and what he or she can do for you. It also explains the DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control) cycle with understandable examples.
If you're considering using Six Sigma to improve your business, if you want to be a Black Belt or Champion, or if you just want to know what all the hubbub is about, this is a great book.
New Lexington, OH
Practice What You Preach: What Managers Must Do To Create A High Achievement Culture, David H. Maister, The Free Press, 1230 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10020, 2001, 250 pp., $26 (book with CD-ROM included).
Reliability, Maintainability and Risk, 6th ed., David J. Smith, Butterworth-Heinemann, 225 Wildwood Ave., Unit B, PO Box 4500, Woburn, MA 01801-2041, 2001, 335 pp., $57.95 (book).
Strategic Thinking for the Next Economy, Michael A. Cusumano and Constantinos C. Markides, eds., Jossey-Bass, 350 Sansome St., 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104-1342, 2001, 317 pp., $19.95 (book).
The Practical Guide to People-Friendly Documentation, Adrienne Escoe, ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2001, 260 pp., member $40, list $50 (book).
Thermochemical Processes: Principles and Models, C.B. Alcock, Butterworth-Heinemann, 225 Wildwood Ave., Woburn, MA 01801-2041, 2001, 386 pp., $95 (book).
Web-Based Human Resources, Alfred J. Walker and Towers Perrin, McGraw-Hill, Two Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10121-2298, 2001, 305 pp., $34.95 (book).
What Smart Trainers Know, Lorraine L. Ukens, ed., Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 350 Sansome St., 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104-1342, 2001, 438 pp., $39.95 (book).