Loyalty Myths

Timothy L. Keiningham, Terry G. Vavra, Lerzan Aksoy and Henri Wallard, John Wiley & Sons, 2005, 272 pp., $24.95 (book).

Loyalty Myths: Hyped Strategies That Will Put You Out of Business and Proven Tactics That Really Work starts out—interestingly enough—with quotes on customer loyalty from business heroes such as Richard Branson of Virgin, Leon Gorman of L.L. Bean and Richard Herres of USAA, then immediately points out the error in their thinking. This is pretty strong rhetoric and Keiningham, Vavra, Aksoy and Wallard try to back up their assertions with facts that demonstrate all customers are not created equal—so why would business want bad customers who are loyal?

A major portion of the book is dedicated to the popular myths of customer loyalty and generous discussions of why they are untrue. The authors follow up on a more positive note by providing their own seven truths of customer loyalty. An example: Don’t manage for customer retention before you manage for customer selection.

The authors also build an innovative loyalty process model with five steps and present 11 suggestions for customers of loyalty programs. I found these last chapters more interesting and useful. Amusing cartoons are also liberally interspersed to make the book more fun.

Professionals who are responsible for designing and implementing their companies’ approaches to customer retention will be the main readers of this book.

Bill Baker
Speed to Excellence
Allen, TX

Stop Rising Healthcare Costs Using Toyota Lean Production Methods

Robert W. Chalice, ASQ Quality Press, 2005, 192 pp., $20 member, $25 list (book).

Robert Chalice applies his 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry in Stop Rising Healthcare Costs Using Toyota Lean Production Methods: 38 Steps for Improvement. The book begins with a concise analysis of the major concerns in today’s U.S. healthcare system, including rising healthcare premium costs, the increasing number of uninsured Americans, waste, expenditures as a growing percentage of the gross domestic product and Chalice’s perspective on the failure of quality improvement and total quality management in healthcare.

Chalice follows this with a brief synopsis of the importance of employee respect and—at the heart of the book—summarizes his 38 key steps, all based on the well-known Toyota lean production methodology. The steps are briefly explained and directly related to the healthcare industry. They are based on the advice of lean advocates and quality experts, as well as the author’s own experience with process improvement in healthcare.

The appendixes include summaries of how three healthcare facilities—Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, the Veteran’s Administration Pittsburgh Health System and the Department of Pathology in the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Shadyside Hospital—have successfully applied some of the Toyota production system principles.

Chalice does a super job relating the principles of Toyota’s manufacturing prowess to the needs and interests of healthcare managers. Readers will better understand how to implement a Toyota based organizational structure to continuously improve quality and reduce cost in healthcare organizations. I highly recommended this book for anyone in healthcare leadership and healthcare quality improvement.

Dale Farris
Groves, TX

Building Successful Virtual Teams

Francine Gignac, Artech House, 211 pp., $79 (book and CD-ROM).

Some people believe we are entering an era of collaborative technologies and will be working more and more in virtual, geographically dispersed teams, with little or no face-to-face contact. In Building Successful Virtual Teams, creation of collaborative virtual teams is called ecollaboration.

This book discusses why virtual teams can be an investment for organizations and how to succeed with collaborative virtual teams. It concentrates on the transition from the traditional face-to-face team to the virtual team and the importance and challenge of creating trust in the virtual team. It focuses on what Gignac calls the ecollaboration paradigm with its four key domains: team, task, organization and technology.

Transitioning to collaborative virtual teams goes beyond the implementation of a technology. It constitutes an important change in the way people interact, share knowledge and work together. The process requires a transition from an industrial to a knowledge mindset. Gignac addresses resources needed for ecollaboration, including roles, responsibilities and profiles in terms of skills and competencies. Ecollaboration is a long-term project because cultural change of this magnitude takes a lot of time.

Gignac discusses a structured methodology for implementing successful virtual teams based on the best business practices in project management, change management, technology and virtual team design.

Gignac states she dreamed of writing a fiction novel since she was a youngster but settled on the topic of virtual teams and collaborative technologies in the 21st century, a subject that might be considered fictitious by many people, for this book.

The book, which gives a good overview, has been written for nonfictitious business leaders and managers interested in implementing virtual teams using collaborative technologies. A CD-ROM with more than 50 ready-to-use templates is enclosed.

Bengt Klefsjö
Luleå University of Technology
Luleå Sweden

Taguchi’s Quality Engineering Handbook

Genichi Taguchi, Subir Chowdhury, Yuin Wu, Wiley-Interscience, 2004, 1696 pp., $150 (book).

At long last, there is a single reference source for all of Genichi Taguchi’s work. In Taguchi’s Quality Engineering Handbook, readers will find all there is to know about the theory and application of Taguchi’s work in the quality engineering area.

The book is well-written and organized. After some introductory chapters on Taguchi’s latest thinking and history, readers are immersed in key Taguchi techniques such as quality loss function, signal-to-noise ratio, Robust Engineering, the Mahalanobis-Taguchi system and design of experiments. The chapters are filled with examples for easy understanding and application.

In addition, a good portion of the book is dedicated to case studies in various areas such as biochemistry, measurement, circuits, electronic devices, machining, product development, medical diagnosis and software testing and application. The book has a summary section that compares and contrasts chapters and integrates Taguchi’s methodologies with other quality philosophies. Finally, there are appendixes with orthogonal arrays and linear graphs.

Among the strengths of this book are the many practical examples and case studies that demonstrate the usefulness of the Taguchi principles, methods and techniques. I particularly found the section on integrating Taguchi methods into the product development process for robust design a worthwhile study. All engineering and quality professionals will find this a necessary addition to their reference libraries.

Bryan Ruggles
Boeing Commercial Airplanes
Everett, WA

The Path to Profitable Measures

Mark W. Morgan, ASQ Quality Press, 2005, 130 pp., $20 member, $25 list (book).

The Path to Profitable Measures is an easy to read guide to establishing a meaningful business scorecard for tracking and improving your company’s overall performance. The scorecard is based on a unique set of indicators, identified as financial, customer, operations and employee.

The book assists you in defining and developing your scorecard through Morgan’s 10-step process. The process includes assessing your measures—including strategy alignment and evaluation of your measurement process and content—identifying long-term outcomes and goals, defining the four indicators as they apply to your business and maturing the measures through continual analysis of the results and ongoing refinement of the measures supporting your four indicators.

Additional chapters discuss the importance of setting inspiring targets that stress the use of positives, such as “receive more than 100 customer referrals by August,” vs. the typical focus of “reduce all customer complaints to zero by August.” The book also highlights boosting results or continual improvement of the gains. A simplified case study involving a fictitious marketing manager named Kathy is used throughout the book to demonstrate how the scorecard can be effectively implemented and utilized.

Overall, this book is a quick and thought provoking read, suitable for middle or upper management. The concept of a scorecard is certainly not a new idea, but this book offers a creative and quick way to track and use key business information for better performance.

Linda Cubalchini-Travis
Simi Valley, CA


  • What Is Six Sigma Process Management? Rowland Hayler and Michael Nichols, McGraw-Hill, 2005, 98 pp., $12 (book).
  • Transforming Schools: Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement, Allison Zmuda, Robert Kuklis and Everett Kline, Assn. for Supervision & Curriculum Development, 2005, 195 pp., $26.95 (book).
  • Smart Teaching: Using Brain Research and Data To Continuously Improve Learning, Ronald J. Fitzgerald, ASQ Quality Press, 2005, 152 pp., $24 member, $30 list (book).

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