Balanced Scorecard Strategy for Dummies

Chuck Hannabarger, Rick Buchman and Peter Economy, Wiley Publishing, 2007, 362 pp., $21.99 (book).

“If you’re not keeping score, you’re just practicing.” This statement carries a truth of modern business along with the essence of a performance standard.

Developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton of the Harvard Business School, the balanced scorecard provides a method to manage and measure the performance of an enterprise.

What was—and still is—radical about their idea is that such a system should include more than basic financial measures. Other measures, such as those related to customers and internal processes, need to be included for management to have an accurate view of the enterprise.

The authors offer—in basic terms and an easily consumed format—a wealth of examples, checklists and tips for implementing a balanced scorecard approach. The authors provide guidance to create a strategy map that links tactical goals to strategic goals via the four legs of a balanced scorecard: financial; customer; internal process; and knowledge, education and growth.

The authors provide tools to help the reader understand the role of the four legs and supply the tools to build that role further. It is a pretty simple formula, and it works. For example, the sections on knowledge, education and growth outline how to perform a skills inventory, use it in a gap analysis and translate that analysis into a set of actionable measures that tie into the overall scorecard.

Moving beyond simple measures of the bottom line is still a pretty bold idea. But after reading Balanced Scorecard Strategy for Dummies, it’s clear that measures are for more than the finance guys. With a little thought, scorekeeping applies to us all.

Reviewed by Tim Knight
Evergreen Park, NY

On Becoming Exceptional

Sister Mary Jean Ryan, ASQ Quality Press, 2007, 114 pp., $26.25 list, $15.75 member (book).

Many quality professionals ponder how to articulate to senior executives and CEOs the value and impact of the Baldrige criteria. This book, written by the CEO of SSM Health Care (SSMHC), an organization that earned the Baldrige Award in 2002, can help.

The book provides insight into the thought processes of a CEO with vision, determination and passion. It is a rich, personal Baldrige journey that is incredibly honest. The author freely shares the organization’s mistakes and difficulties, proving that this is not an idyllic story of easy success.

Tools and techniques are provided to illustrate the journey, which is not just told from the perspective of the CEO. Many quotes, stories, photos and documents are provided from every level in the organization. It is made clear this was a team effort.

We see the applicant’s side of the story—how SSMHC focused quality initiatives and continuous quality improvement using Baldrige criteria. It also covers implementation, self-assessment, application preparation, site visit experience, reaction to the feedback report and—most important—what to do after the euphoria of winning has waned.

This book encompasses years of experience with the Baldrige criteria and decades of leadership lessons. It is of value to anyone interested in the Baldrige process. However, its power is in the behind-the-scenes, day-to-day attention to detail required to make a Baldrige award happen.

This is essential reading for senior managers and an informative read for any CEO trying to build a successful company. But the real story here is the focus on values, vision and leadership, not return on investment.

Reviewed by Denis Leonard
Madison, WI

Serious Performance Consulting

Geary A. Rummler, Pfeiffer (Imprint of Wiley), 2007, 176 pp., $40 (book).

There are direct links between the author’s expertise, this publication and the work of a professional quality practitioner. I can say this because I successfully applied many of Rummler’s techniques long before my involvement with quality initiatives.

Using an in-depth look at the steps that will ensure successful performance improvement, the guide applies equally to the inside quality professional and the external quality consultant. The model presented enables a quality practitioner to assess and diagnose a performance deficiency.

A detailed case study allows the reader to follow the performance consulting process through the stages of: defining the project, identifying barriers, guiding the implementation of changes and monitoring results.

In the case study, the author presents four ways to learn from the example, including a chapter with a high-level overview, an appendix with in-depth findings, a chapter debriefing the case study and personal comments emphasizing serious performance consulting. In the final chapter, the author outlines a method of logging accomplishments on the journey toward becoming a serious performance consultant, with a focus on continuous learning.

The book contains 80 diagrams, charts and forms, a glossary, and other references and resources. The serious quality professional needs the information and guidance furnished in this book. It appears to have a natural tie-in with Six Sigma quality initiatives and all quality related initiatives—whether large or small, internally or externally driven—and can be your blueprint for success.

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

The Machine That Changed the World

James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones and Daniel Roos, Free Press, 2007, 352 pp., $11.49 (book).

In 1950, a young Japanese engineer, Eiji Toyoda, set out on a three-month pilgrimage to Henry Ford’s plant in Detroit to learn the methods of American car building. His visit, and those of Taiichi Ohno, dramatically changed the Toyota Motor Co.

In the largest and most thorough study ever undertaken in any industry, a research group at MIT took five years in the late 1980s to explore the differences between American mass production and Toyota’s Production System, also called lean production.

For example, how could Toyota, 20 years ago, use 16 assembly hours per car and General Motors 31, and at the same time have 45 assembly defects per 100 cars compared to GM’s 135?

When the book was first published in 1990, Toyota was half the size of GM. Today, Toyota has become the world’s largest automaker and is the most consistently successful global enterprise of the past 50 years. This classic was the first book to reveal the ideas behind that success.

Reissued with a new foreword and afterword, Machine contrasts fundamentally different business systems—lean versus mass—that provide two schools of thought about how humans work to create value.

This book, together with a few other classics, has supplied analysis of most of the lean methods that are needed to improve product design, supply chain management, production operations and customer relations.

Machine provides enduring and essential guidance to managers and leaders in every industry who are seeking to transform traditional enterprises into examples of lean success. The real challenge is getting managers to use them. Reading Machine certainly would provide a good start.

Reviewed by Bengt Klefsjö
Luleå University of Technology


  • Lean for Service Organizations and Offices, Debashis Sarkar, ASQ Quality Press, 2008, 231 pp., $63 list, $37.80 member (book).
  • Supply Chain Cost Management, Jimmy Anklesaria, American Management Association, 2008, 230 pp., $39.95 (book).
  • The Desk Reference of Statistical Quality Methods,Mark L. Crossley, ASQ Quality Press, 2008, 541 pp., $94.50 list, $56.70 member (book).

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