Chief Customer Officer

Jeanne Bliss, Jossey-Bass, 2006, 320 pp., $27.95 (book).

Jeanne Bliss shares insights from her 25 years of work with a variety of companies in Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action. Her direct, firsthand experience as the chief customer zealot for five large U.S. market leaders included getting customer views on the strategic agenda, redirecting company priorities toward satisfying their customers and creating transformational changes to maximize the customer’s experience.

Bliss organizes her no-nonsense, frank advice around the major themes of why customer efforts crash and burn. She evaluates customer focus, the actions needed to match organizational actions with customer commitment and, in the core of the material, the willingness of companies to create a chief customer officer.

This book provides readers solid materials, such as tools, tactics and support needed to drive change and focus an organization on meeting and exceeding customer expectations. Readers also will learn about overcoming organizational inertia and creating lasting, meaningful customer relationships.

Bliss’ diagnostics help readers determine whether a company's core strengths, metrics and systems improve or harm customer relationships. This book focuses on the inner truths of organizational hierarchy and dynamics. With Bliss’ provided evaluation, companies can determine the right solution for their culture.

I highly recommend this book for all businesses, especially those in the service sectors.

Dale Farris
Groves, TX

Root Cause Analysis

Bjørn Andersen and Tom Fagerhaug, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 240 pp., $30 member, $50 list (book and CD-ROM).

My greatest frustration as a quality management system examiner is the lack of attention given to identifying the root cause of a problem and lack of corrective actions to address and fix it. Organizations then wonder why the quality of their product and processes does not improve. The second edition of Root Cause Analysis: Simplified Tools and Techniques is sorely needed in the majority of organizations.

By its own definition—simplified tools and techniques—Andersen and Fagerhaug have done an outstanding job of presenting and explaining in layman’s terms what can identify, analyze and eliminate the root cause of a problem. This is not rocket science or, for that matter, highly touted Six Sigma analysis. It’s just plain and simple techniques anyone can use, and it works.

Each topic follows a structured and practical approach: a general description of the tool, its purpose, typical applications, the procedure for using it, an example of its use and finally, a checklist to ensure it is properly applied. An enhancement over the first edition is a CD-ROM with sample forms and templates using MS Word and Excel.

Confused about which tool or technique to use? Don’t fret. There is an excellent tool section chapter featuring flowcharts that guide readers in selecting the appropriate tool for a given situation. Additionally, example cases using the tools and techniques are described.

The book is easy to read and can be used by both technical and nontechnical people in any industry, service organization or the public sector.

Wayne Sander
Dove Quality Consulting
Dousman, WI

Avoiding the Corporate Death Spiral

Gregg Stocker, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 192 pp., $24 member, $40 list (book and CD-ROM).

This is the book I wish I’d written. Writing straight from the hip and backed by the experiences to prove his words, Stocker hits the targets of ultimate corporate demise with Avoiding the Corporate Death Spiral: Recogniz-ing and Eliminating the Signs of Decline.

Stocker takes the reader through six key organizational orientations leading to the decline. The reader should easily recognize some, if not all, of the six signals because they are present in so many organizations we encounter.

The six warning signs of the cor-porate death spiral are:

  1. The organization has lost its purpose.
  2. Management is obsessed with numbers, and money comes first.
  3. Squeezing suppliers is seen as the best way to get the most from them.
  4. Management ignores the primary asset by undervaluing employees.
  5. The organization accepts dirt, clutter and damage as the way things are.
  6. Suboptimization of the overall organization occurs because of operational fragmentation.

Stocker draws a parallel between a weakened human immune system and a declining organization. Ignore the signs, and the organization’s inability to withstand external events can send it into a death spiral—often difficult to escape. He cautions that even if the organization is successful today there is no guarantee of success in the long-term.

To remedy the decline, an organizational transformation is needed. The highlights of this transformation are:

  • The organization’s leader must be personally involved, patient and truly committed.
  • The root causes of the signs of spiraling decline must be identified and addressed.
  • The organization’s culture, be-liefs, practices and tools it uses might need substantial change and require a long time to take hold.
  • A clear plan of action, based on assessing the gap between present beliefs and practices and the desired modus operandi, must be promulgated, understood and bought into throughout the organization.

Would you accept a job at an organization heading for disaster? Would you invest in such an organization? Although the book aims at top level executives, it also provides guidance, in the form of questions to ask, for those seeking positions as well as for those considering investing.

Whether you are an employee, a member of upper management, a potential employee or investor—this book is a must read.

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

Statistics for Six Sigma Green Belts

David M. Levine, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006, 400 pp., $39.99 (book).

Statistics for Six Sigma Green Belts With Minitab and JMP offers a good outline of basic statistics needed for Green Belt (GB)projects. Concepts are presented in nontechnical English and software graphics and explained with several service industry examples. In the preface, Levine states the objective of the book is to familiarize readers with statistical tools so they will be able to use either Minitab or JMP software to analyze their data. Consequently, the book includes chapter ending appendixes providing step-by-step instructions for using Minitab 14 and JMP 6.

The first six chapters focus on introducing Six Sigma and statistics, including descriptive statistics, notions of probability, sampling distribution and confidence intervals. Following chapters present the statistical tools needed for GB, such as hypothesis testing, design of experiments, simple and multiple regression, and control charts.

The main strength of the book is it is well organized. The numerous examples ease understanding of core statistical concepts. Moreover, the flow diagrams presented in every chapter’s summary and the step-by-step instruction for using software make it really useful.

The book’s main weakness is its presentation of design of experiments. No mention is given to mixture design or split plots. Residual checks for analysis of variance assumptions also are not described in this chapter.

Overall, the book is well-written, with a concise nonmathematical presentation of topics. I highly recommended this book to any GB leader who wants to analyze data with Minitab or JMP.

Martìn Tanco
Tecnun (University of Navarra)
San Sebastián, Spain

Lean Distribution

Kirk D. Zylstra, John Wiley & Sons, 2006, 240 pp., $45 list (book).

Lean Distribution: Applying Lean Manufacturing to Distribution, Logistics and Supply Chain is a fresh approach to applying the concepts of lean manufacturing to distribution and supply management. Early on, Zylstra addresses several key barriers to successful lean implementation in a distribution setting. These barriers include the challenge of forecast revision and inaccuracies,
customer expectations in limiting inventory exposure and the constant need to reduce supply chain costs.

The author’s solutions also take into account the corresponding—but often mutually exclusive—demands of global sourcing, which tend to limit forecasting options, lengthen the supply chain and increase overall costs.

The book’s basic idea is that a lean pull replenishment model can be a better approach to lowering costs and maximizing customer satisfaction than the more traditional push strategies. Initial chapters describe the overall approach to the lean concept, discuss the barriers to achieving a lean system and review how traditional distribution networks and IT practices have contributed to the added complexity and limits of forecast accuracy.

Additional chapters discuss the pros and cons of lean vs. other popular approaches and the need to define explicit and customer specific service policies. Subsequent chapters encourage readers to evaluate the impact of key issues such as buffer strategies, the replenishment cycle and how these areas impact the pull approach.

The book does not provide any real-life examples for study or guidance. However, Zylstra’s background and experience make it an informative, easy to read guide for anyone interested in exploring effective options for applying lean principles in a distribution setting.

Linda Cubalchini-Travis
Simi Valley, CA


  • The Nun and the Bureaucrat: How They Found an Unlikely Cure for America’s Sick Hospitals, Louis M. Savary and Clare Crawford-Mason, CC-M Productions, 2006, 264 pp., $24.95 (book).
  • Sales and Marketing the Six Sigma Way, Michael J. Webb, Kaplan Productions, 2006, 298 pp., $27 (book).
  • Managing Contract Quality Requirements, C. Robert Pennella, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 256 pp., $36 member, $60 list (book).

Average Rating


Out of 0 Ratings
Rate this article

Add Comments

View comments
Comments FAQ

Featured advertisers