The Lean Office

Productivity Press, 2005, 121 pp., $15 (book).

The Lean Office: Collected Practices and Cases is a collection of short articles originally published in Lean Manufacturing Advisor, a monthly newsletter from the same publisher. These articles are about lean implementation in nonmanufacturing environments such as design, information services, accounting departments, publishing and different customer service functions. The articles are presented in 18 chapters divided into three groups. There is also an index with the original newsletter citations given; however, no editors or authors are identified.

The value of this book comes from the variety of business types used as examples. Anyone in business is likely to find something to provoke thinking about waste. So while no single article goes deeply into its subject, each article has the potential to stimulate a conversation about one’s own circumstances.

I recommend the book as a quick read for people who have some familiarity with lean manufacturing but are wondering how they can adapt some of those principles and methods in their nonmanufacturing business.

Steven Byers
Olympia, WA

World Class Reliability

Keki R. Bhote and Adi K. Bhote, American Management Assn., 2004, 224 pp., $39.95 (book).

World Class Reliability: Using Multiple Environment Overstress Tests To Make It Happen discusses using a technique to weed out latent defects and potential failures in manufactured products. This technique, multiple environment overstress tests (MEOST), is primarily used for improving the reliability of products before they get into the field and fail in the hands of the customer.

The book is written in three parts with a prologue that uses a case study of a real company that has experienced failure to achieve the desired reliability in its products. The first part describes the need for achieving a reliability breakthrough in today’s competitive environment. The second part discusses what not to do, citing some current and popular techniques that fall short when compared to MEOST. The third section gets into the actual implementation of MEOST and how it is integrated into design and manufacturing disciplines, from a product’s initial design through delivery to the customer.

MEOST consists of techniques such as derating of mechanical and electrical parts, using modular designs, eliminating stress due to heat, designing for manufacturability, mistake proofing and designing for minimum variability. Bhote and Bhote describe MEOST as being implemented in eight distinct stages, which, when done properly, can get a mature product into the marketplace ahead of the competition.

I found the book well written and easy to understand. However, many of the discussed techniques will require additional knowledge and training to properly implement beyond what is presented in this book. I would recommend this book to design, quality, manufacturing and reliability engineers. It presents a straightforward method to improving reliability with proven results.

Eric Furness
Astronautics Corp. of America
Milwaukee, WI

Enterprise Process Mapping

Charles G. Cobb, ASQ Quality Press, 2005, 128 pp., $36 member, $45 list (book).

Enterprise process mapping is essential for business, and integrating systems is key to meeting regulatory requirements such as the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Enterprise Process Mapping details the steps needed to implement and integrate processes. It provides technical assistance and software for readers to begin using process mapping on their own.

Although the book is not formally divided into sections, the first five chapters present an introduction to business processes and process mapping, while the last five chapters give a detailed tutorial with examples using the software tools included with the book.

The presentation is designed for all levels of readers. While the first chapter provides a basic introduction, the remaining chapters are comprehensive with well-presented, detailed examples covering basic to fairly technical aspects.

The introduction to the software in the second half of the book also begins at an easy tutorial level but progresses rapidly for the technical reader. Especially interesting is the chapter that relates to the importance of integrating enterprise process mapping to regulatory regulations and how the software complements the changing regulations and promotes business excellence. Details on lifecycle models and functional decomposition of processes are also explained.

While this is not a book for the CEO or top management to use every day, the tools and methodology it presents will allow technical management professionals to develop enterprise process maps and present them to top management clearly and concisely.

I. Elaine Allen
Babson College
Wellesley, MA

The Quality Toolbox

Nancy R. Tague, ASQ Quality Press, 2005, 584 pp., $35 member, $44 list (book).

The second edition of The Quality Toolbox contains succinct analyses of 148 quality tools and variations, with step-by-step instructions and examples. The tools are organized in alphabetical order by the name of the tool, making it easy to find the tool of choice. In addition, Tague has added a matrix listing of the tools, organized by typical categories of use.

The detailed table of contents also individually lists each tool, and the extensive index lists all the tools and even includes cross-references when the tool may be known by another name. Adding still further value to this essential resource is the section about accessible resources from which you can learn more information about the tools, including books, journals and websites.

Each listing includes a brief description of the tool and what it does, a description of the situations in which you would want to use the tool and a step-by-step numbered procedure that guides you through the use of the tool. Each tool explanation also contains detailed diagrams and charts exemplifying the end result of using the tool, making its purpose even clearer.

This is a superb reference that provides readers with a handy-dandy guide to the many appropriate quality tools that cover a wide variety of situations.

Tague’s vital collection is highly recommended for use by quality professionals in the workplace and will also be very useful for college courses in quality improvement, quality engineering, design of experiments or statistical analysis, while also serving university libraries supporting these curriculums.

Dale Farris
Groves, TX

Effective Writing for the Quality Professional

Jane Campanizzi, ASQ Quality Press, 2005, 164 pp. $15 member, $18 list (book).

At last, there is a simplified how-to on writing effective business documents for the writing challenged professional. Through examples and clear, unencumbered writing Campanizzi has furnished enough basic information for the average professional to succeed in writing effectively. Absent from Effective Writing for the Quality Professional: Creating Useful Letters, Reports and Procedures are the typical detailed explanations of parts of speech, sentence structure and other grammatical intricacies.

The advice offered on communicating with people of other cultures, especially those in which English is not the audience’s first language, is noteworthy. There are also frequent reminders to write in a positive manner, maintain goodwill and address the audience’s needs.

The book provides basic, easy to understand examples of various formats for: composing memos, e-mails, letters, definitions, instructions, procedures, reports and meeting minutes––even presentations. The importance of plain language is stressed in conveying news whether it is good or bad, reporting a complaint, making recommendations and saying thank you.

A useful, three-phase document development cycle helps to break the blank sheet barrier for the blocked writer. The two-page listing of waste words and suggested replacements guides the writer in using more direct and concise language.

If you are experiencing any problems in composing effective written communications—or just getting a document started––this is the book for you. It’s inexpensive and pocket sized, making it a convenient memory jogger.

Russ Westcott
R.T. Westcott & Associates
Old Saybrook, CT


  • Quality Management System Handbook for Product Development Companies, Vivek Nanda, CRC Press, 2005, 332 pp., $79.95 (book).
  • Information Systems Project Management, secpnd edition, Jolyon Hallows, Amacom, 2005, 286 pp., $49.95 (book).
  • Lean-Six Sigma for Healthcare, Chip Caldwell, Jim Brexler and Tom Gillem, ASQ Quality Press, 2005, 224 pp., $40 member, $50 list (book).

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