Transactional Six Sigma and Lean Servicing

Betsi Harris Ehrlich, Saint Lucie Press, 2000 N.W. Corporate Blvd., Boca Raton, FL 33431, 2002, 296 pp., $69.95 (book).

Quality improvement and process improvement tools and techniques have been used in manufacturing for decades. Only recently have many of the same tools and techniques been applied to service industries. This book aims to be a guide to implementing Six Sigma in a transactional environment.

Many quality books are long on theory and short on practical information, but Ehrlich's book is the opposite. She includes many case studies that clearly demonstrate the benefit of using Six Sigma tools. Too often, though, there is not enough information on how to use the numerous tools mentioned. Many tools get less than a page of "how to" information. Some get as little as a paragraph.

If this were intended as an overview to introduce Six Sigma concepts to those in the service/transactional environment, it would be a great book. The title is somewhat misleading in that there is only one chapter on lean, which is labeled an introduction to lean. It does not go into enough depth to be useful.

This book tries to cover too much, and in the end, really only succeeds at being an overview of Six Sigma for transactional organizations. It will be useful as a learning tool mostly to those new to quality in service industries. It does little to aid someone in actually implementing Six Sigma.

Roger E. Olson
Systems Quality Consulting
Alta Loma, CA

Simplified TRIZ

Kalevi Rantanen and Ellen Domb, Saint Lucie Press, 2000 N.W. Corporate Blvd., Boca Raton, FL 33431, 2002, 280 pp., $59.95 (book).

The theory of inventive problem solving (TRIZ) is a systematic method developed in Russia through the analysis of hundreds of thousands of patents. Early books on the subject have been translations of Russian texts and are often hard to understand. An industrialist and the publisher of the TRIZ Journal wrote Simplified Triz: New Problem Solving Applications for Engineers and Manufacturing Professionals with that problem in mind.

The book covers the main stages and principles of TRIZ, including a complete copy of the contradictions matrix and a list of the 40 principles used by inventors for resolving those contradictions. The final chapters discuss the use of TRIZ in business, including its use in combination with other systems such as the theory of constraints and Six Sigma.

Most of the book discusses material examples, although the application of TRIZ in nonengineering subjects is also covered. While the tools are based on physical invention, practitioners know TRIZ can be applied to any innovative situation.

Simplification can be a difficult task. The authors have kept the text clear while covering much of the TRIZ domain. There are many explanatory examples and diagrams, and TRIZ terminology is explained along the way and in a brief glossary. Each chapter includes a short list of references to help the reader explore the subject further.

Overall, this is an excellent introduction to TRIZ and is strongly recommended to any quality professional new to the subject. TRIZ experts will gain less, although the book is still a useful reference and teaching aid.

David Straker
Syque Consulting and Publishing
Crowthore, Berkshire

Henry Ford's Lean Vision

William A. Levinson, Productivity Press, 444 Park Ave. South, Suite 604, New York, NY 10016, 2002, 224 pp., $39.99 (book).

This is an incredibly well-researched book on the accomplishments and legacy of Henry Ford. The author takes the reader through the early days of Ford's development of industrial management principles and his focus on what is today considered lean management.

The first chapter focuses on Ford's concepts as adapted by the Japanese in the late 20th century. Levinson makes a strong case that the manufacturing theories developed recently by the Japanese are actually continuations of Ford's original processes. In subsequent chapters, he argues Ford was ahead of his time and discusses why the ideas that made his company a success were abandoned in the United States.

Levinson also takes a look at the human element of Ford's ideas, including his emphasis on "soft sciences" such as organizational psychology, organizational behavior and culture. He then explores in detail Ford's approach to operational effectiveness.

The historical analogies and many references to modern day management gurus make this book great reading. It is a convincing argument that sustainable success in any enterprise must come from an integrated approach of leadership, methodology, culture and organizational alignment.

James F. Jaquess

Insights to Performance Excellence 2002

Mark L. Blazey, ASQ Quality Press, 600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203, 2002, 336 pp., $47.50 list, $38 member (book).

Insights to Performance Excellence 2002: An Inside Look at the 2002 Baldrige Award Criteria is organized into the seven sections on which the Baldrige award is measured: leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, information analysis, human resource focus, process management and business results.

In each section, Blazey gives a complete, easy-to-understand explanation of each of the 18 items within the section. He includes the actual text of each item, a summary of each item in flowchart form and key linkages between items. He explains potential adverse consequences for not implementing each item and gives examples of effective practices other organizations have developed.

There is also a great chapter on self-assessments of organizations and management systems that would be beneficial to ISO 9000 registered companies. The appendixes are also helpful. One appendix compares the European Quality Award with the Baldrige award. Another defines the responsibilities and management systems drawn from the 2002 Criteria for Performance Excellence.

Blazey does an excellent job of making a person feel like he or she can meet Baldrige criteria. The book is well worth the price for anyone seriously considering applying for the Baldrige award or as reference material to be used as a continual improvement tool for any organization.

Wayne Sander
Dove Quality Consulting
Dousman, WI


Creating Mixed Model Value Streams, Kevin J. Duggan and Jeffrey Liker, Productivity Press, 444 Park Ave. S., Suite 604, New York, NY 10016, 2002, 206 pp., $50 (book with CD-ROM).

Innovations in Competitive Manufacturing, Paul M. Swamidass, ed., Amacom, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 2002, 439 pp., $39.95 (book).

Reliability Verification, Testing and Analysis In Engineering Design, Gary S. Wasserman, Marcel Dekker, 270 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016, 2003, 390 pp., $165 (book).

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