Business Process Change

Paul Harmon, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 2007, 548 pp., $49.95 (book).

There is more than one way to skin a … oops, sorry, to perform business process change, and this book offers a variety of ways to approach it. The author's intention is to "help you actually make process change happen systematically and consistently." He does this by analyzing a variety of business process management (BPM) methods such as reengineering, balanced scorecard, lean, Six Sigma and supply chain architecture.

The body of the book proceeds through the different levels of concerns and issues faced at the enterprise, process and implementation levels. Some methods go back many years, and familiar names like Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School are part of the retrospective.

After the walk down memory lane comes the commercial for the author's brand of BPM called BPTrends (the author's consulting business) Process Redesign Methodology. In his version of BPM, an enterprise-level team executes a business architecture method that cascades down to a team working on a business process redesign method, or the business process redesign team works on its own. The pitch is not a hard sell, as the 70-page chapter is only a bit more than twice the ink dedicated to the discussion of Six Sigma.

The book wraps up in an interesting fashion by revealing the largest issue facing many companies: trying to improve their business processes using tools that include BPM software in the face of the controls and constraints placed on them by monolithic enterprise resource planning (ERP) software like SAP. The author indicates it is possible to reconcile the two but admits the ERP system will likely be the tail that wags the dog.

Reading this book has an advantage over searching the web for an overview of BPM methods in that the book puts them in an appropriate context, enabling readers to judge which application would be the best choice for their organization. It is clearly written and includes a bounty of graphs, tables and flow charts that can be easily shared and discussed by a cross-functional implementation team charged with implementing a BPM in any sized organization.

Reviewed by Jeff Stevens
Tiffany & Co.
Cumberland, RI

Made to Stick

Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Random House, 2007, 304 pp., $24.95 (book).

Great ideas come in simple packages. As evidence of this statement, think about the quality mantra "plan, do, check, act." These four simple words capture the core of all quality management techniques. Even more profoundly, you could argue that all management techniques are distilled from this phrase. Simply said, this is an idea that sticks.

The Heath brothers have authored a work that explains why simple phrases and ideas stick and hold so much power. In Made to Stick, the authors provide insightful examples of the six key components of an idea that is made to stick: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotional and stories. At first, some of these might seem obvious because, quite frankly, they are. But the authors do a fantastic job of showing why such obviously simple principles are so powerful.

To reinforce these principles, the authors provide some insightful exercises. Called clinics, these short sections show the reader how to make an idea "stickier." It might take several readings of each clinic before the idea comes across (the explanations aren't so sticky, apparently). But after the first few clinics are done, the rest become far more comprehensible.

It should be pointed out that Made to Stick builds on Malcolm Gladwell's stickiness factor written about in his book The Tipping Point. The authors acknowledge this relationship and do a great job of building on Gladwell's foundation. In fact, the Heath brothers do a far better job of illustrating the idea—and making it stick.

Reviewed by Tim Knight
Evergreen Park, IL

Design for Trustworthy Software

Bijay K. Jayaswal and Peter C. Patton, Prentice Hall, 2007, 798 pp., $64.99 (book).

Developing trustworthy software is very complex. The authors address this significant challenge by combining software engineering, quality management, industrial statistics and leadership methods.

Of particular importance in the design for trustworthy software (DFTS) approach are nonstandard applications of the Taguchi robust design techniques, the seven basic tools of quality, quality function deployment, the 5Ss, cost of software quality and statistical methods.

The book consists of 27 chapters organized in five parts: "Software Development Methodology Today," "Tools and Techniques of DFTS," "Designing for Trustworthy Software," "Deployment of a DFTS Program" and "Case Studies."

The authors' breadth of expertise, their experience and the well-organized content make this an interesting book that's easy to read. Practitioners and researchers involved in practical software engineering will find it to be a useful addition to their bookshelves. In addition, the questions at the end of each chapter make it an excellent textbook for undergraduate and graduate courses in software engineering and software quality.

Reviewed by Ron S. Kenett
KPA Ltd.
Raanana, Israel

Recognition, Gratitude & Celebration

Patrick L. Townsend and Joan E. Gebhardt, ASQ Quality Press, 2007, 88 pp., $29.40 list, $16.80 member (book).

This book was originally published in 1997, but its message is still as applicable today as it was then. The authors convey a simple message that will continue to be pertinent as long as there are employers and employees—saying thank you is good business.

This entire slim volume is devoted to examining why it is good to say thank you and the detriments of not saying it, not saying it often or sincerely enough, or not saying it to the right people.

Anyone who interacts with people or receives the products of someone's labor will benefit from reading this book. Most will pick up tips and ideas on how to say thank you in a more appropriate way. This will allow the reader to convey meaningful appreciation for, and recognition of, those around us, whether at the workplace or not.

This book has an excellent index and decent additional reading and reference sections. A surprising bonus is the thank you flow chart. At first glance, it seems to be a bit simplistic. But further inspection shows that it truly captures the desired process. If there is a weakness of the book, it's that there are too few examples of good, innovative thank you systems. More recent offerings could fill that gap.

Expressing gratitude is a valuable skill that can be learned and that should be recognized and prized in good leaders. Sincere, proper acknowledgment of achievement and contribution helps inspire everyone to do a better job and encourages growth. This book is a good start to achieving that end.

Reviewed by Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Chemicals Inc.

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