The Nun and The Bureaucrat

Louis M. Savary and Clare Crawford-Mason, CC-M Productions, 2006, 272 pp., $24.95 (book).

Authors Savary and Crawford-Mason provide a handy companion to the one-hour PBS documentary “Good News…How Hospitals Heal Themselves,” that aired in Spring/Summer 2006. The Nun and the Bureaucrat: How They Found an Unlikely Cure for America’s Sick Hospitals focuses on how the Toyota principle of systems thinking was applied in two complex American healthcare systems: SSM Health Care and the Pittsburgh Regional Health
care Initiative (PRHI).

SSM Health Care, headquartered in St. Louis, is one of the largest Catholic based hospital systems in the United States and the first healthcare organization to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. PRHI is a collaborative effort, including hundreds of clinicians, 40 hospitals, four major insurers, dozens of major and small business purchasers, corporate and civic leaders and Pennsylvania’s attorney general.

The book’s material is organized into chapters summarizing the major problems in today’s healthcare industry, including unnecessarily complex organizational hierarchies, waste, misplacing patients and the blaming of personnel for systems failures. The second part of the book shows how systems thinking and continual process improvement have enabled these two healthcare organizations to focus on the needs of customers, reduce nosocomial infections and medication errors, reduce wait times in critical areas and reduce deaths.

The numerous frank statements and comments from physicians, staff and leadership personnel from both organizations further strengthen the value of this important contribution to healthcare quality. The book clearly describes the kind of leadership essential for making U.S. hospitals safe and patient friendly, while at the same time cutting costs by driving out waste.

With today’s rising clamor over the many problems facing American healthcare, this book nicely summarizes the frontline experiences in the industry. I highly recommend it for all staff involved in healthcare quality improvement, as well as all healthcare leadership, especially those few remaining administrators who think the Joint Commission on Accredita-tion of Healthcare Organizations standards are all that are needed to define quality in their hospital.

Dale Farris
Groves, TX

The Elegant Solution

Mathew E. May, Free Press Division of Simon and Schuster, 2007, 256 pp., $26 (book).

Two timely topics of interest—innovation and Toyota—are addressed in this easy to read, energetic and inspirational book. The Elegant Solution: Toyota’s Formula for Mastering Innovation, provide insights into Toyota’s success in achieving breakthroughs that enable it to consistently outperform the competition.

The author examines Toyota’s philosophy, culture and leadership, in addition to the tools used, such as idea loops. The three principles and 10 practices guiding the Toyota journey toward elegant solutions, or successful business innovation, are discussed along with examples of implementation, punctuated with inspirational quotes.

The book consists of three parts: principles, practices and protocol. Each chapter ends with questions for reflection. This helps the reader consider how to adapt these tools and philosophies to their own organization.

A case study relating to how the Los Angeles Police Department implemented the principles and practices successfully into their own situation creates a nice capstone to the book. The book ends with notes of encouragement to get you started on your own journey.

Denis Leonard
Veridian Homes
Madison, WI

Effective Implementation Of ISO 14001

Marilyn R. Block, ASQ Quality Press, 2006, 384 pp., $57 member, $95 list (book).

Effective Implementation of ISO 14001 gives the reader a clear and understandable description of the revised standard, its requirements and how it compares to the original ISO14001:1996 standard. Block certainly has the qualifications to address these changes—she was one of
the U.S. experts for the ISO/TC207 subcommittee on environmental management principles, systems and supporting techniques. She also contributed to the development of ISO 14001 and ISO 14004, and she participated in the process of revising those standards.

The book is organized so that initial chapters each correspond to the 18 numbered clauses and subclauses of the standard. Therefore, a person does not need to read the book cover to cover but can refer to the applicable clauses or subclauses to gain an understanding. In addition, each chapter has the following format:

  • The ISO 14001:2004 text and the ISO 14001:1996 text assist the reader in comparing the two standards side by side.
  • Significant changes in the wording are discussed.
  • The intent of ISO14001:2004 and applicable approaches to implementation are offered.
  • It includes real life examples of documented procedures and details how a particular clause has been implemented by other organizations.

The book concludes with a brief chapter on the future of environmental management and a glossary of terms.

I would recommend this book to all organizations with an environmental management system that need a clearer understanding of the differences between ISO 14001:2004 and ISO14001:1996, as well as those struggling with implementation of the new standard.

Wayne Sander
Dousman, WI

Five Key Principles

Bob Paladino, John Wiley & Sons, 2007, 400 pp., $45 (book).

Five Key Principles of Corporate Performance Management is a must read for any top level executive interested in the real-world application of corporate performance management (CPM). While the book might seem daunting at 400 pages, readers can easily select specific chapters, each of which offer in-depth explanations of one of the five key principles.

Opening chapters highlight the growing interest in CPM, and the need for companies to establish a specific CPM office and executive to handle the task of accelerated implementation of CPM best practices. An analysis of why companies fail to effectively implement strategy and why CPM is not always successful is also provided.

The five key principles of CPM are identified as: establish and deploy a CPM office and CPM officer, refresh and communicate strategy, cascade and manage strategy, improve performance, and manage and leverage knowledge. None of these principles are new to the business world.

Additionally, all the principles use tools currently being used by many successful organizations. However, this book takes the unique approach of treating CPM as a specific department, fully staffed and entirely focused on driving strategy practices—at an accelerated rate—throughout all levels of a company.

Paladino describes nine real-world businesses actually implementing the principles. Subsequent chapters follow the organizations’ experiences with a key principle, including best practice highlights and detailed graphics of tools and methods used.

This book assumes the reader’s company has top management willing to staff and support the CPM process. It makes for interesting and thought provoking reading, whether Paladino’s experiences are ultimately achievable by most organizations.

Linda Cubalchini-Travis
Simi Valley, CA

Managing the Customer Experience

Morris Wilburn, ASQ Quality Press, 2007, 128 pp., $27 member, $45 list (book).

Organizations have struggled for years with how to determine customer satisfaction and its relationship to customer retention and intention to repurchase. Managing the Customer Experience: A Measurement-Based Approach delves into the mysteries of research methods that lead to a better understanding and management of customers’ experiences. While the book spares the statistically challenged reader the technical details, it does capture the essence of each method in plain language. The pros and cons are addressed and examples of applications are provided.

The stage is set with multiple discussions about brand image, customers’ perceptions and emotions resulting from interactions with service personnel, a summary of basic human needs, security issues, the role of empathy and the shopping environment (including e-commerce). These discussions about customer experiences are capped off with a review of marketing communications designed to increase customer loyalty.

Wilburn addresses obstacles, pitfalls and potential problems caused by misinterpreting the collected data, as well as issues of accuracy in measurement techniques. Segmentation of the customer base and its impact on the measurement of customer loyalty is discussed. The issues of research costs are also explored. The book concludes with a review of customer value analysis and looks at other influences on repurchase behavior.

It is encouraging to learn sincere efforts are being made to isolate and attend to factors and attributes influencing customer retention and the decision to repurchase. These efforts are focused on guiding senior management in improving organizations’ performance. The challenge for the reader is how to fashion a suitable research program to meet the strategic needs of his or her organization in improving customers’ experiences. There’s much valuable insight packed into this text. The book is a worthwhile read.

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


  • All That Matters About Quality I Learned in Joe’s Garage, William B. Miller and Vicki Schenk, Bayrock Press, 2006, 176 pp., $11.95 (book).
  • Reliability, Life Testing and Prediction of Service Lives for Engineers and Scientists, Sam C. Saunders, Springer, 2007, 310 pp., $79.95 (book).
  • Environmental Management Quick and Easy: Creating an Effective ISO 14001 EMS in Half the Time, Joe Kausek, ASQ Quality Press, 2007, 296 pp., $45 member, $75 list (book).

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