The Quality Rubric

Steve Benjamin, ASQ Quality Press, 2007, 112 pp., $28.35 member, $47.25 list (book).

The Quality Rubric: A Systematic Approach for Implementing Quality Principles and Tools in Classrooms and Schools is a useful reference tool for decision makers with knowledge of quality tools, procedures and vocabulary to use as a rubrics guide to teaching-learning programs. Intended for K-12 educators delivering teaching-learning support, this book starts with a two-page definition section followed by an introduction to the quality rubric.

For readers new to tools, systems and the language of quality, Benjamin’s book might be a challenge, but it will definitely be an effective learning tool. This book is a reference to delivering quality-as-process and quality-as-result in classrooms and schools.

The book is organized into three parts: introduction to the quality rubric, the quality rubric in the classroom and the quality rubric in a school. Continuous improvement, data driven decision making, systems thinking, teamwork, and focus on stakeholders and reporting of results are topics highlighted in this book. With a plan-do-check-act philosophy at the core of the rubric, this book is a tool for delivering results.

The use of graphics and figures, lists and examples from actual schools and classrooms make this book a useful tool. The book is effective as a reference to a team working to extend quality in classrooms. It is also useful to students being introduced to the quality rubric.

Jerry Brong
Ellensburg, WA

Lean Sigma: A Practitioner’s Guide

Ian D. Wedgwood, Prentice Hall, 2007, 744 pp., $59.99 (book).

The purpose of Lean Sigma: A Practitioner’s Guide is to provide those using the Six Sigma method with best practices and tool roadmaps for completing a broad range of projects. The book is divided into three major sections: Section one provides solution roadmaps to 25 different types of problems, section two covers the topic of project identification, and section three covers the explanation and application of 55 different lean and Six Sigma tools.

The main strength of the book lies in the project and tool roadmaps. They cover the common problems Black Belts encounter. In addition, each roadmap takes you step by step through problem solving within the scope of the define, measure, analyze, improve and control process.

The roadmaps allow a Black Belt to see how the lean tools logically connect with one another to solve a particular problem and why a specific tool might be used at a specific stage. This book is detailed enough to enable a Black Belt who is unfamiliar with a tool to use it in a project and then interpret the results of using it.

If there is one weakness in the book, it is the chapter on project discovery. It was quite thin compared to other chapters and more information could have been provided on that topic.

Overall, this is a book that will be very useful for everyone from novice Black Belts to those who are more experienced. Master Black Belts and champions can also use this book to make sure Black Belts have addressed all the steps necessary to complete a project. Six Sigma practitioners will find this book a welcome and frequently used addition to their libraries.

Brian Cocolicchio
Quest Diagnostics
Teterboro, NJ

Collaborative Process Improvement

Celeste LaBrunda Yeakley and Jeffrey D. Fiebrich, Wiley-Interscience, 2007, 178 pp., $59.95 (book).

Collaborative Process Improvement: With Examples From the Software World is a detailed and prescriptive roadmap to the standardization of process improvement.

Although the subtitle refers to the software world and the focus is on quality, the recommendations are applicable to any process chosen for implementation or improvement. All that is required is some adaptation.

Yeakley and Fiebrich have efficiently and effectively summarized their experiences with improvement and have tried to provide a single-source training tool. They have succeeded in doing so and have gone further by identifying benefits, breakthroughs, time and cost savings, collaborative or global impact and results. Also included are aids and exercises for both the novice and experienced enhancement campaigner.

Although nothing should ever be guaranteed, this process outlines all the steps needed for success if presented in a manner suitable to the company culture. Diligently following this plan will result in efforts that will bear scrutiny by the harshest critics in the unlikely event that improvement aims are not fully realized.

Within each chapter there are summaries, checklists, guidelines, considerations and decision stimulators to help with the implementation and furtherance of the improvement process. Also included are an index, dictionary and bibliography for further study. Anyone assigned as an improvement leader will benefit from reading this book and using the provided tools.

If the book lacks anything, it is a sufficient number and breadth of examples. Those that are provided have been generalized and shortened. Details on the exact occurrences would provide better understanding for individuals without much experience in leading change efforts. Still, I think this book is worth having on the bookshelf. It provides excellent guidance for any improvement champion or implementation endeavor.

Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Chemicals

Six Sigma: Advanced Tools for Black Belts and Master Black Belts

Loon Ching Tang, Thong Ngee Goh, Hong See Yam and Timothy Yoap, Wiley, 2006, 426 pp., $130 (book).

Six Sigma: Advanced Tools for Black Belts and Master Black Belts is an integrated collection of 25 chapters, broken into five parts, relating to the define, measure, analyze, improve and control process. The most important feature of the book is that it is not a how-to book. Topics are presented in a readable style, and the chapters are comprehensive, including an introduction followed by examples and references. Sample topics include: a strategic assessment of Six Sigma, mind maps, reality trees and fishbone diagrams.

The topics vary in their conceptual and mathematical content. To fully benefit from the book, the reader must be capable of following articles published in the Journal of Quality Technology, Quality Technology and Quantitative Management or Quality and Reliability Engineering International. Master Black Belts and most Black Belts at that level will find the book a good reference for addressing nonstandard problems and introducing new ideas into their practices.

The authors have been involved in many Six Sigma programs in the Asia-Pacific and have provided significant added value to the companies they worked for. The knowledge and experience included in this book will be useful to individuals involved in such programs.

Ron Kenett
Raanana, Israel

Improving Healthcare Quality

Brett E. Trusko, Carolyn Pexton, H. James Harrington and Praveen Gupta, FT Press, 2007, 650 pp., $59.99 (book).

Improving Healthcare Quality and Cost with Six Sigma provides a compelling case for why improvement in quality and cost in healthcare fields is needed. It further highlights Six Sigma success stories, which are already being adopted in manufacturing and business fields, as the methods needed to achieve this improvement.

The first three chapters present the reasons cost cutting and quality improvement are important. The healthcare field is unique in terms of its cost structure and end products because the current reimbursement system in healthcare actually encourages inefficient practices. The government pays for curing a defined sickness but not for the prevention and general well being of the patient. This results in an emphasis on reimbursable procedures while neglecting other more important prevention procedures that offer little monetary incentives.

The second part of the book provides an introduction to Six Sigma and its applications in healthcare industries. Six Sigma case studies from selected healthcare organizations are featured. The last part of the book offers implementation strategies for treating Six Sigma as a cultural change.

I strongly recommend this book to healthcare professionals learning how Six Sigma can help them operate more effective healthcare organizations.

Shin Ta Liu
Lynx Systems
San Diego


  • The Team Building Toolkit: Tips and Tactics for Effective Workplace Teams, second edition Deborah Mackin, Amacom, 2007, 223 pp., $17.95 (book).
  • Introduction to Distribution Logistics Paolo Brandimarte and Giulio Zotteri, Wiley-Interscience, 2007, 587 pp., $99.95 (book).
  • Business Process Improvement Toolbox, second edition Bjørn Andersen, ASQ Quality Press, 2007, 312 pp., $37.80 member, $63 list (book).

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