Managing Innovation

John E. Ettlie, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinnmann, 2006, 528 pp., $49.95 (book).

Managing Innovation: New Tech-nology, New Products and New Services in a Global Economy is a comprehensive textbook on the processes contributing to or distracting from a successful exploitation of innovation. This second edition is a rigorous update of the original, written for the college student and as a primer for executives on how to manage change. It’s subdivided into three general sections: getting started with innovation; the innovation process unfolds; and the context of innovating and futures.

The first section is based on the innovation planning triangle: its three corners are tagged—research and development engineering, marketing and sales, and operations and IT. The history and evolution of technology, manufacturing, economics and services are included, as well as well-researched case studies.

The book’s second section on the innovation process, is the heart of the book. It delves deeply into all the factors involved in the process, including sociotechnical systems, culture, the resistance to change and disruptive technology.

There are many references to websites and there are discussion questions at the end of each chapter. Ettlie uses charts and illustrations to explain his theories, making the book easier to read. I recommend this book to the serious manager who is intrigued, or someone who works for a company driven by innovation.

Bill Baker
Speed to Excellence
Santa Fe, NM

Breaking Through

John Simmons, Teachers College Press, 2006, 250 pp., $56 (book).

Simmons, president of Strategic Learning Initiatives, a not-for-profit group focused on organizational improvements in schools and education systems, has written Breaking Through: Transforming Urban School Districts as a reference tool and thought provoking resource. Papers and reports from other authors also are integrated into the book.

Written with an emphasis on quality as process and quality as result in teaching learning programs, the book delivers insight and many how-to ideas. It also presents challenges of bringing forward action and actual reports. Best practices are noted with emphasis on reports from Chicago from 1988 to 2005. This book provides a framework for effecting change and delivering results.

The book’s index is a useful tool for finding items from broad topics to specifics related to current initiatives. Change agents can use the book as a source for ideas, leads for discussion, further research in literature and references on strategy implementation. The references also explore controversies related to program control, authority and role of teachers, confirmation of outcomes and results, and priorities for change.

I highly recommend this book. It serves as a reference for quality specialists looking into urban school programs. Additionally, it can be used as a text in an academic course exploring improvement in urban school programs.

Jerry Brong
Ellensburg, WA

Six Sigma

G. Robin Henderson, John Wiley & Sons, 2006, 452 pp., $120 (book).

Six Sigma: Quality Improvement With Minitab seeks to explain the more widely used statistical methods in Six Sigma and how they are implemented with Minitab Release 14. The book covers how to use Minitab, exploratory data analysis, statistical process control charts, capability analysis, process experiments, gage repeatability and reproducibility studies and regression analysis.

In each chapter, Henderson briefly covers the statistical theory while describing how to perform the calculations using Minitab. The explanations are clear, and the instructions are easy to follow. However, it would have been easier to follow the instructions on how to perform a particular calculation in Minitab if the procedure was separate from the text. Also, I would have liked the descriptions of the statistical methods to have been integrated with the corresponding parts of the define, measure, analyze, improve and control process.

The book really shines as a supplementary textbook to an introductory statistics class in which Minitab is used, or as a textbook in a Six Sigma Black Belt or Green Belt class. The book does a great job integrating the particular method being discussed with how to perform the calculations in Minitab.

There are also several follow-up exercises at the end of most chapters, with the corresponding answers on the publisher’s website. The publisher’s website also contains the data sets used in the book.

Overall, this is a good book that I would recommend to statistics or Six Sigma instructors looking to help students learn how to use Minitab.

Brian Cocolicchio
Quest Diagnostics
Teterboro, NJ

The Versatile Leader

Bob Kaplan and Rob Kaiser, Pfeiffer, 2006, 304 pp., $40 (book).

The Versatile Leader: Make the Most of Your Strengths Without Overdoing It is a combination of strong research and insights from practice. It’s a leadership guide with actionable advice. Most leadership books focus on identifying our weaknesses and forming a strategy to address them. Kaplan and Kaiser recognize that to be fully effective there is a need for both strengths and weaknesses to be managed, since we can overdo our strengths and, as a result, essentially undo them.

The book provides a 360° survey and a Leadership Versatility Index to evaluate both strengths and weaknesses. Advice for developing yourself and coaching others along with reflective questions are provided at the end of each chapter. Examples from practice are provided throughout the book, giving insights to interpret the results and make change happen.

Detailed notes are provided supporting the research that underpins the authors’ work. The appendix provides a full methodology of how the Leadership Versatility Index was developed, providing strong validation of the work.

Finally, contact information is provided to learn more about the patented Leadership Versatility Index and the coaching, assessment and training services that have been developed to support it.

Denis Leonard
Veridian Homes
Madison, WI

Improving the Extended Value Stream

Darren Dolcemascolo, Productivity Press, 2006, 209 pp., $45 (book).

According to Dolcemascolo, the extended value stream should go beyond door-to-door internal lean implementation and right to the key suppliers of a company’s main operations. Improving the Extended Value Stream: Lean for the Entire Supply Chain uses a case study of a hypothetical company to show how to implement lean across the supply chain and keep the key suppliers in mind.

This book provides very good criteria and templates for evaluating and selecting suppliers as the lean partners. The evaluation area includes financial and operational, technical and process expertise, and business relationships. Each area offers several key metrics for evaluation and scoring. These approaches alone serve as a very valuable source for evaluating and selecting any supplier—not just a lean partner.

The main drawback of this book is it discusses the approaches at the theoretical level. A real case study on implementing lean across a supply chain—with obstacles encountered and lessons learned—would make this book more convincing. Without a real case study, the book is only an untested theory. The book is self contained and provides a comprehensive review of lean tools and how they apply to suppliers.

Shin Ta Liu
Lynx Systems
San Diego


  • Six Sigma Best Practices: A Guide to Business Process Excellence for Diverse Industries, Dhirendra Kumar, J. Ross Publishing, 2006, 464 pp., $74.95 (book).
  • Quality Gaging Tips, George Schuetz and Jim McCusker, Hanser Gardener Publications, 244 pp., $39.95 (book).
  • A Practical Field Guide for AS9100, Erik Valdemar Myhrberg and Dawn Holly Crabtree, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 150 pp., $36 member, $60 list (book).

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