Visual Tools

Productivity Press, 2006, 130 pp., $15 (book).

Visual Tools: Collected Practices and Cases is a collection of articles from Productivity Press’s Insights on Implementations series. It includes a complete start to finish walk-through of a quality improvement program. The book begins with 5S and uses this concept as the foundation for all the articles that follow. It assumes the reader is already familiar with 5S and does not define the concept anywhere in the book.

Incidentally, the 5S’s stand for five Japanese words:

  • Seiri: sorting out.
  • Seiton: systematic arrangement.
  • Seiso: spic and span.
  • Seiketsu: standardizing.
  • Shitsuke: self-discipline.

In the book, we are taken on a journey through the process of 5S and a multitude of other reorganization and lean processing techniques such as kanban (meaning signboard or signal in Japanese), single point lessons, storyboards and finally to takt time vs. actual time. Takt is the German word for the orchestra conductor’s baton. In quality control (QC), takt signifies available time for a process. There is an article with a detailed example, including photos and diagrams, for each illustration of lean production processes.

The book offers broad coverage of QC techniques, and each chapter is written to make it accessible to both technical and nontechnical practitioners. The case studies are interesting, and the examples cover a wide set of industries and issues, such as medical, aerospace and commodity manufacturing.

I recommend this book to all practitioners looking for a lean process guidebook. However, my only suggestion to Productivity Press would be to provide a small appendix with a glossary defining all the QC processes outlined in the book.

I. Elaine Allen
Babson College
Wellesley, MA

Innovation on Demand

Victor Fey and Eugene Rivin, Cambridge University Press, 2006, 242 pp., (book).

Innovation on Demand: New Pro-duct Development Using TRIZ is a good, case based introduction to Genrikh Altshuller's Teoriya Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadah (TRIZ) which, in Russian, means the theory of inventive problem solving. Fey and Rivin base the book on courses taught at Wayne State University in Detroit and claim it’s the first TRIZ textbook.

Since the 1990's, Altshuller's work has gained recognition in the West. This trend gets emphasized with the growing need for techniques to manage and support innovation.

Topics covered in the book include:

  • Resolving system conflicts.
  • Substance field analysis.
  • Algorithms for inventive problem solving.
  • The 10 laws of technological system evolution.
  • The four phases of technology evolution.
  • Using TRIZ in management practice.

Case studies and examples make the approach practical and the concepts clear.

As a focused text, the book does an excellent job presenting TRIZ. However, as a textbook on managing innovation, coverage of alternative techniques is missing. For example, how is TRIZ related to lean manufacturing and single minute exchange dies concepts? Perhaps in later editions the authors could add a chapter listing relevant websites, which would make the book more comprehensive.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to quality engineers, industrial statisticians and development managers. TRIZ can indeed serve as a medium to improve the interchange of ideas between different engineering professions. Fey and Rivin are to be thanked for making TRIZ better understood and more accessible.

Ron S. Kenett
KPA Ltd.
Raanana, Israel

Improving Your Project Management Skills

Larry Richman, Amacom, 2006, 206 pp., $15 (book).

Improving Your Project Manage-ment Skills is based on an American Management Assn. seminar with a similar name. The book touts itself as packing the practical strategies of the three-day class into one portable volume. Since I have not attended the seminar I cannot verify this assertion. However, this book definitely does cover all aspects of project management efficiently and effectively in an easy to understand manner. Any reader—from novice manager to seasoned professional—will find the information valuable as either a robust tutorial or a comprehensive refresher.

Richman provides a detailed table of contents, list of figures and index, making it easy to find any particular topic of interest quickly. The coverage progresses through the lifecycle of project management logically and sequentially from preproject considerations to postclosure staff release. Both the hard and soft aspects of successful implementation through completion are dealt with in an objective manner. Figures, checklists and illustrations fully support the discussion behind increasing the probability of success in project execution.

If there is anything missing in the book, it is concrete and specific examples accompanying the suggestions. Novice project managers might not be comfortable interpreting some of the generic or abstract proposals. There are several references to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) leading me to wonder what was omitted from the treatment of this subject.

While not an expert, I did not find very much new in the book. However, the handling of the subject was thorough and complete. I am happy to recommend this book to anyone looking for guidance in project management.

Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Chemicals
Houston, TX

Strategic Management

Mario I. Katsioloudes, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2006, 408 pp., $49.95 (book).

The second edition of Strategic Management: Global Cultural Per-spectives for Profit and Non-Profit Organizations is a relatively short, but content packed book for both business and quality professionals.

Katsioloudes avoids overloading the reader with jargon, making it an easy read. Moreover, the book is suitable both as a primer for new managers and a refresher for their senior peers. If you are responsible for creating intelligent and limber organizations, it will help.

For those who believe sound strategic management processes are the primary ingredient of successful business, Katsioloudes has delivered all the tools a practitioner needs. The first part provides an introduction to and covers the environmental factors for driving the strategic management process.

The second half of the book reveals details behind the planning process, such as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis, strategic audits and strategy options. It then provides context for executing and evaluating the strategic management process. Lastly, the book takes the reader through the process of applying strategy to nonprofits and global organizations. Together, these parts form a fairly thorough compendium of management theory.

Packed with valuable insights and techniques, Strategic Management is a good read. Most texts in this category are simply overwhelming. Katsioloudes does a good job of not smothering the reader.

Tim Knight
Evergreen Park, IL

The Successful Leadership Development Program

Jo-Ann C. Byrne and Richard T. Rees, Pfeiffer, 208 pp., $50, (book and CD-ROM).

Byrne and Rees acknowledge that many excellent leadership development programs already exist but say most are designed for individuals. The Successful Leadership Development Program: How to Build It and How to Keep It Going specifically addresses leadership development programs implemented within organizations.

The authors have provided a clear, logical and empirically tested process to develop, launch and maintain an organizationwide leadership development program. However, this is not a one size fits all approach. Byrne and Rees clearly describe the what, how and why of each process step, but it’s up to the reader to reach his or her own unique set of conclusions. The authors approach leadership development believing each organization’s management culture will define and process leadership differently. Therefore, each leadership development program should be tailored uniquely to that organization, based on assessments and resources.

All the tools, forms and sample documents discussed in the book also are provided on the accompanying CD-ROM.

Return on investment (ROI)—a sometimes overlooked and often difficult program component to produce—also is addressed. The authors use real numbers where possible, but present the ROI as potential returns. Program sustainability is also addressed and directly linked to ROI. This establishes a believable ROI as an important step for both launching and maintaining the program.

I was quite impressed with the clear step-by-step approach this book takes. The program model is not only applicable to a leadership development program, but it is also an excellent resource for developing, launching and maintaining almost any new program within an organizational setting.

James Kotterman
APL Logistics
Woodridge, IL


  • The Best Practices Enterprise: A Guide to Achieving Sustainable World-Class Performance, James M. Kerr, J. Ross Publishing, 2006, 240 pp., $44.95 (book).
  • Principles of Auditing and Other Assurance Services, O. Ray Whittington and Kurt Pany, McGraw-Hill, 2006, 800 pp., $149.06 (book).
  • A Lean Guide to Transforming Healthcare, Thomas G. Zidel, ASQ Quality Press, 2007, 192 pp., $39 member, $65 list (book).

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