David S. Fearon and Steven A. Cavaleri, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 304 pp., $20 member, $25 list (book).
Insight Knowledge: Rediscovering the Source of Performance Improvement is written as a novel illustrating Fearon and Cavaleri’s belief in a theoretical approach to performance improvement—this time called pragmatic knowledge. The story centers on a lower level call center operations employee who discovers the key to improvement through a series of online learning events and mentoring.
This book would best be read by upper level corporate and business owners who can effect company philosophy transformation. The main idea is that individuals hold the key competitive advantage element, because only they possess the inside knowledge of how the businesses processes work or don’t work.
Repeated references to W. Edwards Deming and Frederick Taylor as well as recent articles by Peter Senge and Steven Spear add validity to the theories presented. The proposed seven principles of pragmatic knowledge are closely focused on how the culture of a company should manage the transformation. The disadvantage of this book is there are no mentions of current fast learning approaches including benchmarking and communities of practice. There is also no promotion of knowledge transfer between individuals within the company.
In summary, this book is probably more entertaining as a suspenseful business novel than as a useful resource for managers.
Speed to Excellence
SPC for Right-Brain Thinkers
Lon Roberts, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 128 pp., $20 member, $25 list (book).
It’s necessary to read the preface of SPC for Right-Brain Thinkers: Process Control for Non-Statisticians to understand its purpose. Do not mistake it for what it does not claim to be. It is not a simplified how-to text on statistical process control (SPC). Rather, this book provides those who do not think in a linear logical way with an overview of the SPC process. This overview is broadly scoped and attempts to present this information conceptually, limiting math to just the essentials.
Roberts addresses SPC planning, study, documentation and implementation components—before explaining the statistical analyses associated with the development of an SPC chart—using improvement of a patent application process in a legal services firm as a case study. The book ends with an overview of SPC within the overall context of continuous improvement.
This is a lot to cover, and the book’s length results in inconsistencies in the amount of explanative detail across the various sections. At the same time, I was impressed by the practicality and usefulness of much of the material and its manner of presentation.
Roberts does not assume reading this book will result in a technical expertise sufficient for SPC implementation. However, the book succeeds in providing the right-brain thinker with adequate information about SPC to encourage an exploration of the extensive resources that exist.
This book is relevant for management and supervisory staff, as well as those who work within the job processes in which SPC is applied.
Temple University Hospital
Design for Six Sigma
Gregory Watson, GOAL/QPC Publishing, 2005, 396 pp., $39.95 (book).
Design for Six Sigma: Innovation for Enhanced Competitiveness aims at providing a comprehensive overview of design for Six Sigma (DFSS) for an audience of business leaders. It is also presented as a work in progress where the writing reflects the ongoing effort to transition such ideas and tools to the work environment so new products are better introduced to the market and customers are better served.
The book is indeed comprehensive, and Watson’s effective writing style and clear presentation skills make it a pleasure to read. Topics covered include cultural artifacts of Six Sigma, managing design programs, decision making within the analytic hierarchy process, product pricing, lean thinking, measurement systems, cost accounting, TRIZ (a Russian acronym for theory of inventive problem solving), robust designs, risk management, development scorecards, Six Sigma body of knowledge, statistical design of experiments and DFSS work breakdown structure.
The book serves as an ideal reference for business leaders who need to relate to such concepts, tools and methodology but do not have the time to learn them in depth. Unfortunately, the book has no index making any referencing tedious if not impossible.
The material contained in the book matches perfectly its original goal. However, its lack of an index severely hampers it practical use. I hope a second edition will account for this missing feature. I do recommend it for individuals looking to get a comprehensive overview of DFSS.
Ron S. Kenett
Process Quality Control
Ellis R. Ott, Edward G. Schilling and Dean V. Neubauer, ASQ Quality Press, 2005, 672 pp., $68 member, $85 list (book and CD-ROM).
With the emphasis on process quality these days, Schilling and Neubauer have hit the mark with the fourth edition of Process Quality Control: Troubleshooting and Interpretation of Data which they originally wrote with Ott, who died in 1981. This book is useful both in the classroom as a statistical control lesson and in any quality professional’s library. The book is most useful and understood by individuals with knowledge of advanced mathematics and statistical training, therefore making it unsuitable for a novice.
The book is divided into three main parts. The first part introduces the reader to variable data and the selection of sample sizes, estimating and comparing data, and attribute data. In part two, the authors discuss sampling as it pertains to inspection and operating characteristic curves. Principles and applications of control charts are discussed in detail for variable and attribute data with an added section on process capability.
The final part of the book provides eight chapters devoted to teaching students how to apply the necessary tools for solving a problem. Chapters include basic ideas and methods for troubleshooting variable and attribute data and concepts on design of experiments.
The book contains excellent examples, diagrams and figures to assist in problem solving and process control. Practice exercises and case studies are also included for use in an academic setting.
In addition, the book comes with a CD–ROM. Although not useful to me, it includes solutions to the problem sets for each chapter along with a library of papers (in PDF) published on analysis of means techniques.
Quality Brain Teasers
Sophronia W. Ward and Sheila R. Poling, BNP Media, 2005, 90 pp., $19.95 (book).
Quality Brain Teasers: Real World Challenges To Build Your Manufacturing Skills presents a compilation of situational puzzles representing real-world issues that might be encountered by manufacturing companies. This book is actually an extension of the popular “Quality Brain Teaser” column found in Quality Magazine.
The brain teasers are grouped into four categories: basic, intermediate, advanced and measurement studies, providing interest to a wide range of quality professionals. Each teaser is defined by the situation, available data or support information and questions the workers want answers to for that particular manufacturing problem.
A separate section provides the answers, including techniques used and visual charts or displays. A keyword section is also included, assisting a trainer or reader in selecting a brain teaser example from the book.
The puzzles are concisely detailed, taken from actual company experiences and typically rely on commonly used quality methods for their resolution. For example, the reader will find applications using control charts, process mapping, fishbone diagrams and Pareto charts.
This book would make a nice supplement to a quality trainer’s bag of tools to help people enhance their problem solving approaches. One limitation to the book is that the primary focus is on manufacturing examples. Overall, it is a nice addition to any quality practitioner’s library.
Simi Valley, CA
- Improving Service Quality in the Global Economy, second edition, Michael Milakovich, Auerbach Publications, 2006, 406 pp., $69.95 (book).
- The End of Chaos: Quality Laws and the Ascendancy of Democracy, David Schrunk, Quality of Laws Press, 2005, 185 pp., $24.95 (book).
- Everyday Excellence: Creating a Better Workplace Through Attitude, Action and Apprecia-tion, Clive Shearer, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 272 pp., $24 member, $30 list (book).