The Team-Building Toolkit

Deborah Mackin, AMA Books, 2007, 240 pp., $17.95 (book).

This book is a must for anyone involved with initiating, directing and maintaining team operations. Mackin has provided a straightforward, no-nonsense guide to the team process, with many hints and suggestions, as well as a discussion of the pros and cons of optional activities. The book could also serve as a guide to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of multiperson interactions in which no formal team has been established.

This second edition (published 15 years after the original) progresses in the logical order of implementation and operation of team forming and maturing. It covers everything needed to achieve optimal performance, including team establishment, balance, evolution and closure. It includes sections on unit accountability, decision making and problem solving—necessary skills for groups often overlooked in team performance manuals.

The coverage of team assessment, evaluation and continuance is especially in-depth. Subject treatments are relatively concise and can stand alone to serve either as a primer or refresher on the topic without the need to read any of the other chapters.

Mackin has provided excellent checklists, illustrations and examples of all techniques in an easy-to-understand format. A serviceable index and a number of annotations to references are also incorporated. All aspects of team functions are examined and evaluated completely in an easy but thought-provoking style of writing.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and was often reminded of many subtleties in team and group dynamics I had forgotten over the years. I know I will need to keep track of my copy of this book, as I expect it to be in great demand by my coworkers.

Reviewed by Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Chemicals

Integrated Enterprise Excellence, Volume 1—The Basics

Forrest W. Breyfogle III, Bridgeway Books, 2008, 156 pp., $27.95 (book).

Breyfogle promises that the integrated enterprise excellence (IEE) system will resolve a multitude of business problems, including unmet business goals, scorecards that drive the wrong behavior, firefighting of problems and improvement projects with little quantifiable impact.

He states that IEE achieves these improvements by emphasizing the strengths and minimizing the weaknesses of the Six Sigma, lean and balanced scorecard approaches. This book does not contain a compelling argument to substantiate this claim.

Breyfogle tried to emulate the approach taken by Eliyahu Goldratt, who presented his theory of constraints in his novel, The Goal. Breyfogle’s book, however, fails as a novel because the characters and their story are never really developed.

The reader is gradually exposed to IEE during a series of discussions among friends on a golf course. The golf course encounters were distractions from my objective: to learn about IEE, which was never adequately described. This turned out to be deliberate on the part of Breyfogle, who explains in the preface that further elaboration of IEE is provided in volumes two and three of the series.

If the reader desires only a cursory overview of IEE, then another book by Breyfogle, The Integrated Enterprise Excellence System, might be a good alternative. It offers an overview of IEE without the distraction of the golf story. But if a thorough understanding of IEE is desired, then the reader might consider volumes two (560 pp.) or three (1,200 pp.) of this series. Although these last two books have not been reviewed, their sheer size indicates the discussion of IEE must be more expansive than what is provided in volume one.

Reviewed by Rich Anderson
Tucson, AZ

The Value of Learning

Patricia Pulliam Phillips and Jack J. Phillips, Pfeiffer, 2007, 425 pp., $45 (book).

While this book is geared toward training and HR professionals, it also has value to those working in the quality field because designing and implementing a training program is a project, as is planning and implementing a process improvement or quality initiative. There are striking similarities between the two approaches, including the need to demonstrate a payback on the investment.

The authors, experts in translating activities and events into actionable data and information for decision making and evaluation, take the reader through nine stages of data collection, analysis and use. Integrated within these stages are five levels of program or project evaluation, including the means for collecting, analyzing and interpreting the data at each level. The authors build on the long-established four levels first promulgated by Donald Kirkpatrick in the 1980s and add another.

The authors identify and address virtually every question the reader might have about quantifying benefits and costs, all in understandable language. Among the issues discussed are the differences between and inherent values of hard and soft data, and the challenges of compiling costs vs. benefits.

There are 118 exhibits (tables, figures, charts and forms) and dozens of examples from a wide variety of organizations. The inclusion of these exhibits further enhances the easy-to-understand nature of the book. When you are expected to know how to capture and use the value of learning or improving performance, this text is the perfect place to start.

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

The Desk Reference of Statistical Quality Methods

Mark L. Crossley, ASQ Quality Press, 2007, 541 pp., $56.70 member, $94.50 list (book).

Unlike other research references, this text is truly an excellent compilation of an encyclopedic list of methods. Each topic, referred to as a module, addresses a specific technique or statistical method used in quality assessment. The table of contents is quite comprehensive, and Crossley has included a matrix that is especially useful.

The matrix cross-references the modules by six statistical areas: acceptance techniques, compliance methods, descriptive modeling, process improvement, reliability, and basic and special statistical process control applications. While this cross-referencing is done in alphabetical order, it might be more useful if it were listed from simple descriptive techniques and models to more complex and special applications.

As a reference text, it is comprehensive and covers all statistical methods, models, tests and sampling plans, with a variety of examples in each topic area. Several new topics are covered in this new edition: advanced SPC applications, reliability applications and simplex optimization. Additional examples have been included, and many of the modules have been expanded.

I have a few suggestions for enhancing this new edition and for any subsequent editions. A website with a tie-in to a statistical software product would be helpful, and examples using a variety of different software programs would be an excellent addition to the text. Including a CD-ROM with statistical software for the modules would also be a very useful companion to the text.

Reviewed by I. Elaine Allen
Babson College
Wellesley, MA

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