Get It Right

Ken Imler, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 200 pp., $30 member, $50 list (book).

Get It Right: A Guide to Strategic Quality Systems is a smoothly written text designed for managers. It gives reasons why quality is an integral part of company strategy, ways it can add value to the company rather than be an add on and indications of possible routes for the company to follow a continuous improvement route. It’s one of those books the author wanted and, since he could not find it, wrote himself.

The subject is a serious one: how to build in quality right from the earliest point and use it as a major tool for competitive advantage. This is something that needs managerial consensus, as it will inevitably affect the culture of the company and will probably mean revision of processes and documentation. The author emphasizes the quality system should be useful, rather than a few scattered pieces of evidence for an audit, designed to look pretty but having no attention paid to them.

Consequently, Imler uses brief composite case studies to illustrate his points and an unobtrusive, clear writing style that provides suggestions and tips just as the reader is struggling to articulate the questions thrown up by these ideas. He wants the reader to enjoy the book—this is essential—as it pays to read again. This book is a good reference tool during a company’s quality evolution.

The book has diagrams and key takeaways at the end of each chapter. The text is very logically written and is ideal for reading while traveling. The reader can read a section, think a bit, plan a bit more and go back to the book for more ideas.

Managers are the primary target, but quality professionals will benefit hugely from reading this, if only to be ready when management starts suggesting value adding improvements.

Jenny Glover
Fell Services/SELEX S&AS
Edinburgh, Scotland

Design and Analysis Of Gauge R&R Studies

Richard K. Burdick, Connie M. Borror and Douglas C. Montgomery, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, 2005, 201 pp., $60 (book).

Design and Analysis of Gauge R&R Studies: Making Decisions With Confidence Intervals in Random and Mixed ANOVA Models has two objectives and accomplishes both very well. Its primary objective is to develop a protocol for testing a measurement system using a gauge repeatability and reproducibility (R&R) experiment.

The first chapter addresses these types of experiments and introduces the terminology and notation used in the rest of the book. This includes standard statistical notation as well as more R&R experiment specific information such as capability measures and requirements and recommendations from semiconductor and automotive industry groups. Examples in the subsequent chapters illustrate all areas of gauge R&R studies.

The remainder of the book fulfills the second objective: summarizing methods used to construct confidence intervals in normal based random and mixed analysis of variance (ANOVA) models. Chapters two through six cover the basics of balanced designs including crossed random one and two factor models with and without interactions, including mixed models. The remaining chapters examine unbalanced designs with nested and with crossed factors. The coverage of these topics is straightforward and includes numeric examples, complete equations and some computer graphic output.

This is a comprehensive text on ANOVA and provides concise descriptions of both simple and complex experimental designs. I recommend it as a reference for statisticians involved in R&R studies as well as others. My only recommendation for the next edition of this book would be to add links or software recommendations for the experiments, because most researchers will be analyzing their data using statistical or statistical process control programs.

I. Elaine Allen
Babson College
Wellesley, MA

Accelerated Product Development

Clifford Fiore, Productivity Press, 2005, 210 pp., $45 (book).

Lean and Six Sigma principles have been widely used to improve the performance of manufacturing processes. A great opportunity for impacting the bottom line can be realized by applying these principles to the product development process. In Accelerated Product Development: Combining Lean and Six Sigma for Peak Performance, Fiore outlines an approach for applying lean and Six Sigma principles to reduce cost in the product development processes.

To remain competitive, companies must shorten the product development cycle to cost effectively get new products to market sooner. This task is made more difficult in a business environment in which more output is expected from staffs depleted by downsizing. To accomplish this, Fiore describes a model for improving the efficiency of the product development process. The key elements of the model are stability, flow, lean design, design for Six Sigma and manufacturing process control. The description of the model provides a clear, understandable overview of how lean and Six Sigma might be used to improve the product development process.

However, this book does not provide a thorough discussion of either lean or Six Sigma principles. Fiore has not given sufficient details and substantiation to fully inform the reader. He also has not offered a balanced look at the two pillars of his approach. Six Sigma receives much less coverage than lean principles in the description of his model.

Although it is short on specifics, this book will stimulate the thought process regarding the reduction of waste in the product development cycle.

Rich Anderson
Tucson, AZ

Visual Workplace Visual Thinking

Gwendolyn D. Galsworth, Visual-Lean Enterprise Press, 2005, 222 pp., $46 (book).

Visual Workplace Visual Thinking explains how to build the details of a job into the physical environment to overcome motion—an undesirable—and the information deficits that cause it. The concept strives to provide answers to what a person needs to know and share within the workplace. Once properly executed, the visual workplace is a self-ordering, self-explaining, self-regulating and self-improving environment. The book discusses the use of visual orders, standards, displays, metrics, controls and guarantees to answer the six basic questions of where, what, when, who, how and how many?

Manufacturing sites will find it easiest to begin implementation of the processes discussed in this book since the concepts adapt most readily to physical objects. Service based businesses will also find a reasonable blueprint on how to get started.

The lack of examples for knowledge based businesses is the main weakness with the materials presented. The applications provided aren’t easy to implement and need more thorough thought to complete.

Galsworth has provided numerous samples of visual workplace achievements with plenty of good quality explanations and photos. The book nicely outlines the steps to take toward implementation and does not overlook the human aspects of encouraging or achieving change, nor the challenges they add. The visual workplace concept complements lean manufacturing and offers a good parallel path to pursue.

Readers will gain something from this book even if it just starts them thinking about the application of these techniques to their workplaces.

Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Chemicals
Houston, TX

The Progressive Audit

Robert Pfannerstill, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 312 pp., $35 member, $58 list (book and CD-ROM).

The Progressive Audit: A Toolkit for Improving Your Organizational Quality Culture tells it like it is right away when it states that most companies’ internal auditing systems are neither efficient nor effective. Pfannerstill draws on his experiences to develop a picture of the usual last minute audit scenario wherein his company used to put off doing any audits let alone pursuing corrective actions until the ISO registrar was about to visit.

Through this illustration along with Pfannerstill’s compelling argument, you are well prepared to move into the rest of the book to find out how you might be able to escape the timeworn auditing paradigm.

The author recommends forming an audit team whose members interview the organization’s leadership on their understanding of their quality system. This includes what system they have in place and how they monitor and respond to signals in the system to influence further improvement.

The audit team then interviews departmental managers to find out how well the organizational leadership communicates the needs of the quality management system and what kinds of processes the managers have in place to ensure the operators and staff know what they need to do to support the system.

The last step is to interview the operators to check the validity of the department managers’ statements and observe how the operators respond to the instructions and communication they receive.

The final section of the book summarizes how one would go about creating and training an internal audit team, scheduling a season of auditing activities and assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of the auditing program with an eye for improvements.

The accompanying CD-ROM offers a wealth of tools such as templates for the audit checklist and scoring guides to help organize the audit activities and get them going sooner rather than later.

Jeff Stevens
AT Wall Co.
Warwick, RI


  • The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Six Sigma, Marsha Shapiro and Anthony Weeks, Alpha Books, 2005, 214 pp., $12.95 (book).
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean: Lessons From The Road, Jamie Flinchbaugh and Andy Carlino, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, 2006, 196 pp., $30 (book).
  • Managing Service Delivery Processes: Linking Strategy to Operations, Jean Harvey, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 368 pp., $42 member, $70 list (book).

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