Continual Improvement Assessment Guide
J.P. Russell, ASQ Quality Press, 2004,
210 pp., $15 member, $18 list (book).
Continual Improvement Assessment Guide: Promoting and Sustaining Business Results is a well-written and concise pocket guide that addresses the benefits of auditing and assessment techniques, creating a structured program for monitoring continuous process improvement. This approach focuses on quantifiable improvement, identification of opportunities to improve and sustainability of the improvement effort. The text also offers a combination of established auditing techniques and guidelines.
Russell emphasizes one of the keys to an improvement process is having auditors who possess the diverse sets of skills needed to conduct continual improvement audits. He believes that not only do they need to have the requisite technical knowledge, but they also need to be adequately trained in the assessment techniques described in the guide.
In addition to the auditing and assessment concepts presented in the main text, Russell provides appendixes with checklists and guides for successful implementation of auditing and assessment programs.
This inexpensive pocket guide is a valuable tool to any person interested in developing a program to improve business results over the long term. It offers methods to ensure a quantifiable and sustainable business process improvement.
James F. Jaquess
Electric Power Research Institute
The Solution Path
Tasos Sioukas, Jossey-Bass, 2003, 196 pp., $19.95 (book).
The Solution Path: A Step-by-Step Guide To Turning Your Workplace Problems Into Opportunities is a how-to book about problem solving in the workplace. Filled with many templates and checklists that would be of value to workplace teams, the book also includes a problem solving model, which addresses factors that impact the progress and effectiveness of its methodology. These include the consideration of Myers-Briggs personality types and characteristics of corporate culture.
Sioukas extends boundaries by addressing aspects of the problem solving approach that are not usually considered. For example, personal psychological factors and associated interventions, positive thinking, use of affirmations and addressing fear are discussed. Bringing fear to the conscious level and recognizing that a high percentage of fears are unfounded are helpful in taking seemingly uncertain steps toward change.
Sioukas’ examples are collected from a variety of organizational types and sizes, providing case studies of use to the new manager in problem solving. Larger organizations with support staffs and established, accepted protocols may benefit by cross-checking and evaluating their approaches and resources against the material in this book.
Temple University Hospital
H. William Dettmer, ASQ Quality Press, 2003, 320 pp., $32 member, $40 list (book).
Strategic Navigation: A Systems Approach to Business Strategy, by H. William Dettmer, provides an excellent focus for companies on how best to perform strategic planning by optimizing the processes he highlights. Because the strategic process can become impaired when organizations try to coordinate activities to ensure some prescribed rational control of the future, the navigation systems can become very useful.
Dettmer introduces the quality continuous model as an application for business functional leaders involved with the strategic planning process for their company. The book provides good reviews of strategic thinking from various schools of thought, and leaders will appreciate the strategic navigation requirements needed to keep up in a fast paced world.
To help readers understand the cause and effect in organizational systems, the latter part of the book deals with constraint management. The constraint management model is a prescription for creating and updating strategies as needed. It analyzes mismatches, focuses on observations and creates sets of realities in an environment that leads to the identification of future strategic changes.
Business leaders adapting the principles defined in Strategic Navigation will be better able to execute their intended strategies. I recommend this book because it treats strategy as a living activity.
John J. Lanczycki
And Effect Analysis
Second Edition, D.H. Stamatis, ASQ Quality Press, 2003, 488 pp., $56 member, $70 list (book and CD-ROM).
Failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA) is a dynamic process that should constantly be updated. In Failure Mode and Effect Analysis: FMEA From Theory to Execution, D. H. Stamatis reviews FMEA in its entirety and brings forth new information. One chapter provides a summary of the legal issues pertaining to liability. It covers points the average quality practitioner may not know. Five of the chapters detail steps for performing each of the types of FMEA, including the recommended composition of the team to work on each type. Some redundancy is evident among these chapters as the author eliminates the need for bouncing back and forth to gain the needed instruction. However, this allows the steps for each type to stand alone.
Placing the appendixes on a CD-ROM has pluses and minuses. The appendixes further illuminate and enhance the text with examples, checklists and more complex computations needed for some applications. The downside is the end user would need a computer with CD drive handy. A problem occurs when attending an FMEA class (a laptop would be needed). The book and the disk are loaded with forms, diagrams, tables, checklists, formulae, recommended actions and warnings.
This is a must read for anyone exploring the application of FMEA in her or his organization. It would be a valuable reference for the experienced quality practitioner who is involved infrequently in an FMEA effort. It is both a reference handbook and an instructional text.
Russ Westcott R.T. Westcott and Associates
Old Saybrook, CT
Practical Guide to Soft-ware Quality Management
Second Edition, John Horch, Artech House, 2003, 286 pp., $77 (book).
John Horch is a world leader in the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers standards and related activities and has significantly contributed to the software engineering profession. This updated second edition includes new chapters on software safety and software risk management.
Horch discusses total software quality systems with an intended audience of targeting high level managers and engineers. The book consists of an introduction to software quality programs and focuses on 10 basic elements of software quality systems: standards, reviewing, testing, defect analysis, configuration management, security, education, vendor management, safety and risk management.
The book, however, is a middle of the road manuscript that does not include enough real-life examples to motivate managers or enough details to become a practical primer. It can be used successfully as a textbook complementing workbooks in training courses and workshops on software quality management.
Ron S. Kenett
On the Shopfloor
Productivity Press Development Team, Productivity Press, 2003, 89 pp., $25 (book).
Productivity Press has produced material on lean manufacturing since 1979, and this book is one in the Shopfloor Series. Identifying Waste on the Shopfloor is slightly different from others in the series in that it concentrates on a work culture rather than a particular technique, but there are still useful tips on how to deal with waste in an organization.
The book benefits by being a team effort and uses the Harvard Business Review approach of combining smooth text with cartoons. The text is separated into short sections with “take five” sets of exercises designed for readers to take a five-minute break and think about one particular subject. Each section starts by indicating possible causes and then gives practical tips on how to eliminate them.
If waste is defined as “any activity that adds cost or time, but does not add value,” this shows the huge range of the subject and that it’s important to remember emergency or stopgap improvements can easily become institutionalized so they are part of the way we’ve always done it. The overriding message of this book is to continually question established methods and look for ways of improving them.
The book is designed for people actually working on the shop floor and emphasizes that tackling waste can be fun in that it provides individual empowerment and makes the job more interesting. Of course, the company will also benefit through cutting the hidden costs of production and increasing customer satisfaction and competitive advantage.
Third Edition, Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal, Jossey-Bass, 2003, 512 pp., $36 (book).
Authors Bolman and Deal join again in this timely third edition update to their solid work that aims to help readers understand their organizations better. The core of Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership is “reframing,” described by Bolman and Deal as “a tool for finding new opportunities and options in confusing and troubling organizational situations.”
Distilling the massive literature on organizational dynamics, the authors look at situations from more than one angle with their four frames of reference for understanding organizations.
The first frame is structural, or how to organize and structure groups and teams to get results.
The human resource frame is second and discusses how to tailor organizations to satisfy human needs, improve human resource management and build positive interpersonal and group dynamics.
The third frame—political—shows how to cope with power and conflict, build coalitions, hone political skills and deal with internal and external politics.
The fourth frame outlines how to shape a culture that gives purpose and meaning to work, stage organizational drama for internal and external audiences and build team spirit through ritual, ceremony and story.
Consistent throughout is the focus on the difference between leadership and management, an integration of learning from both the public and the private sector, a counterbalance of art in both management and leadership and the strategies and characteristics needed in future leaders.
I highly recommend this book for all managers and university libraries supporting business and HR development curricula.
Finding the Leader in You, Anton Camarota, ASQ Quality Press, 2004,
100 pp., $20 member, $25 list (book).
The Supply Chain Imperative, Dale Neef, Amacom, 2004, 304 pp., $32.95 (book).
System Safety for the 21st Century, Richard Stephans, Wiley-Interscience, 2004, 385 pp., $89.95 (book).
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