Project Management Step-by-Step
Larry Richman, American Management Assn., 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 2002, 288 pp., $27.95 (book).
The author of Project Management Step-by-Step approaches the subject first through the description of its elements and the roles of the actors: project managers, team members, clients and customers. He then does an excellent job leading the project manager through the planning and execution of a project, emphasizing the leadership necessary. Chapters are terse and instructive. Particularly useful are the chapters on performance appraisal and conflict resolution.
Richman does a good job of delineating the differences between functional and project management. He alerts the prospective project manager to the importance of the composition of a team.
There is no question this guide can be used to effectively manage projects in a classic sense. It is a valuable reference for executives and prospective project managers and provides a primer in project management for the neophyte project manager.
There are certain omissions in the book, however, that dictate it be used in conjunction with a good quality control guide. Absent are the quality control techniques necessary to enhance the results of the effective project manager, like the injection of customer feedback into ongoing planning and execution of project management steps. Helpful also would be references for specialized projects like software development and system engineering or for quality control techniques like Six Sigma and quality function deployment.
Reducing Process Variation, Volumes One and Two
Davis R. Bothe, Landmark Publishing, N30 W5030 Landmark Dr., Cedarburg, WI 53012, 2002, 1,136 pp., $139 (book).
Reducing Process Variation presents a seven-step variation reduction strategy called DOT-STAR. DOT-STAR allows the variation reduction team to quickly eliminate the parts of a process that do not contain a major cause of variation. Then the team can focus on the parts of the process in which major variation occurs.
Bothe's book provides good guidance for using the dozens of tools available for reducing process variation. It presents the tools in a logical order, starting with those for defining the problem and ending with those for maintaining and improving the chosen solution.
I like the many extensive examples. There is at least one detailed example for every tool presented, and for most, there are several. This excellent book would be a benefit to anyone involved in reducing process variation.
The major weakness is that most of the examples are related to manufacturing, with only a few service or transactional examples given. This book is most useful to people who solve quality problems on the shop floor.
Roger E. Olson
Systems Quality Consulting
Alta Loma, CA
Root Cause Analysis: Improving Performance for Bottom-Line Results
Robert J. Latino and Kenneth C. Latino, CRC Press, 2000 N.W. Corporate Blvd., Boca Raton, FL 33431, 2002, 245 pp., $79.95 (book).
In Root Cause Analysis: Improving Performance for Bottom-Line Results, second edition, the authors use root cause analysis (RCA) for performance improvement. Many of the examples and case studies in the book are from the authors' actual experiences in the field as consultants to the chemical industry on RCA techniques.
The RCA method incorporates a modified failure mode and effects analysis approach that uncovers problems and failures currently occurring. It ends with a Pareto analysis of subsystems by dollars lost. The data, which are well documented with diagrams and illustrations, are analyzed with a logic tree.
Other topics covered include collecting data, understanding team members' roles and responsibilities, communicating findings, and reporting and tracking results.
The book gives a good presentation of RCA. It is well written, easy to read (nontechnical) and would be particularly beneficial to maintenance personnel.
Dove Quality Consulting
Social Power and the CEO: Leadership and Trust in a Sustainable Free Enterprise System
Elliott Jaques, Quorum Books, 88 Post Rd. W., Westport, CT 06881, 2002, 208 pp., $59.95 (book).
This book focuses specifically on CEOs and what they can do to create or destroy an effective company.
The social power of CEOs is cited as coming from the almost total control they have over the internal systems used to select, motivate, direct, reward and develop the people of the company. The author, a management professor, pays particular attention to the central power of trust in creating effective and socially enjoyable companies.
According to the book, the failure of companies is due to the misunderstanding by CEOs of both human nature and how the systems and structures of companies lead people to behave.
The 18 chapters include examination of human topics (such as motivation), structures (such as hierarchy), processes (such as selection) and systems (such as strategic planning and alignment). They focus on what really works, as opposed to offering blind opinion. There are also regular two- and three-line summary sections, which facilitate a quick scan.
It is unclear for whom this book is intended. The lack of references would probably trouble an academic, while the lack of examples, diagrams and direct business speak would probably make it heavy going for most CEOs and business people. This is a shame, as it contains a very important message. Perhaps it would suit a mature CEO or well-connected quality manager who can promote its ideas.
Handbook of Mass Measurement, Frank E. Jones and Randall M. Schoonover, CRC Press, 2000 N.W. Corporate Blvd., Boca Raton, FL 33431, 2002, 307 pp., $99.95 (book).
The Internal Auditing Pocket Guide, J.P. Russell, ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2003, 160 pp., $12 member, $15 list (book).
Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma Quality With Lean Speed, Michael L. George, McGraw-Hill, 2 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10128, 2002, 322 pp., $39.95 (book).
Preparing for the Project Management Professional Certification Exam, second edition, Michael W. Newell, Amacom, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 2002, 411 pp., $27.95 (book).