Make or Break

Kaj Grichnik and Conrad Winkler with Jeffrey Rothfeder, McGraw-Hill, 2008, 207 pp., $17.95 (book).

This book, a collaboration between Booz Allen Hamilton and magazine, serves as a reminder that manufacturing prowess can be a strong competitive advantage and must be fully exploited to be successful in today’s world.

Value-added manufacturing processes were the basis for the rise in the standard of living in the Western world and helped create the middle class. The authors propose that manufacturing is now in its golden age. The title, Make or Break, conveys the message that now is the time to emphasize manufacturing excellence. Examples of organizations that understand this, including Proctor & Gamble, Toyota and Boeing, are discussed in the book.

In Chapter 2, “Powerful Challenges,” the authors discuss the eight major challenges facing manufacturing. This includes global competition from emerging countries with low wages, material and workforce shortages, new customers, an expanding variety of choices for consumers, environmental pressure, and labor and management conflict. The authors claim, “If these challenges are not addressed, the consequences could weaken the perceived ability of manufacturing to add value to the entire organization.”

In Chapter 3, “Virtuous and Vicious Cycles,” the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing to China are illustrated in the form of charts. The authors state that China is not the solution to every problem, and like any other decision, all facts related to outsourcing must be considered.

Chapter 4 deals with “Planning for Success” and tells executives that “manufacturing must be appreciated” as the value creator it is. The role of the manufacturing executive has evolved and changed dramatically, and there is a full plate of issues that can lead to a relatively short tenure. This is a good book for all executives to read and study, because it makes the case that there are opportunities for a company to excel if all aspects of its approach are in sync.

Reviewed by Bill Baker
Speed to Excellence
Santa Fe, NM

The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing Lean Six Sigma: The Financial Impact

Robert M. Meisel, Steven J. Babb, Steven F. Marsh and James P. Schlichting, ASQ Quality Press, 2007, 90 pp., $29.40 list, $16.80 member (book).

The title of this book says it all. Using three brief case studies and a glossary of cost-of-quality terms, it is a guide for any executive looking to get a better grasp on lean Six Sigma (LSS). In determining the financial impact of LSS, the authors rely heavily on the Juran concept of cost of poor quality. Very little, however, is dedicated to helping interested managers implement such a system. The guidance on launching an LSS initiative is also very general, which should be expected from such a small executive guide.

If this guide motivates managers to look further into LSS implementations and cost-of-quality systems, it will have achieved its goals and objectives. It will best serve as an excellent introduction to managers who have heard about these initiatives and want a quick overview of what they entail.

I recommend this executive guide to managers who are looking for an airplane reading of what LSS is all about. They will, however, need to seek additional advice on how to begin such an initiative.

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

Thinking Tools for Kids

Barbara A. Cleary and Sally J. Duncan, ASQ Quality Press, 2008, 182 pp., $36.75 list, $22.05 member (book).

Adults who support teaching and learning programs have a major responsibility as they help learners acquire and use thinking tools. This book is for adults who facilitate classroom learning, and it is filled with ideas, resources and procedural instructions for developing thinking.

The subtitle, An Activity Book for Classroom Learning, perfectly describes the content of the book—resources to stimulate thinking about thinking. The resources offered will help students learn how to organize and process data and information. The tools and procedures offered support critical thinking, lead to discoveries, foster problem solving in the classroom and can be used for daily living.

Teachers and other adults using this book will need a basic knowledge of the problem-solving tools to ensure quality-as-process and quality-as-result in the activities. Sections of the book explore collecting data; making connections between ideas, observations and events; recording and presenting data; and procedures and tools for seeing patterns.

Thinking Tools for Kids is recommended as an in-classroom reference tool for teachers. It has further use as a professional workshop resource for adults who are exploring strategies for helping young learners develop skills in thinking, planning, problem solving and assuming leadership in youth activity programs. In addition, the revised edition of the book can be a resource to support high school students in their activities focused on community and career leadership.

This book is a recommended resource for adults who are active in helping students learn the skills required for problem analysis and solving, higher level thinking, leadership and the implementation of tools that can be used to deliver quality as a result.

Reviewed by Gerald R. Brong
Ellensburg, WA

Story of a Lean Journey

James K. Lewis, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, 2008, 182 pp., $23 (book).

This is an excellent introduction to lean concepts, written in the style of Eliyahu Goldratt’s novel. It is the story of a consultant hired to work for a small company that is struggling to implement lean in an increasingly global market. The consultant is tasked to turn the company around and create a positive impact on the bottom line.

This is a fast read, with a story that moves quickly and keeps the reader interested. It introduces lean concepts, tools and techniques, and leaves the reader wanting to find out more about them and put them into action. The story takes us from the boardroom, through management and supervisors to the shop floor, providing insights to the methods of introduction, culture change, overcoming barriers and leadership.

The book highlights the need to sustain lean in the long term for real impact. It concludes with a lean glossary and a list of recommended reading that provides more information about lean to help the reader begin his or her own lean journey. It is an excellent way to introduce lean without swamping the reader with technical detail and scaring them off.

This book would be ideal if it were followed by another more detailed offering on the topic of lean implementation, with templates, calculations, methods and case studies of how to implement lean. This would allow the concepts discussed and inspired in Story of a Lean Journey to be applied further.

Reviewed by Denis Leonard
Business Excellence Consulting
Bozeman, MT

Recent Releases

  • Putting Our Differences to Work
    Debbe Kennedy, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 200 pp., $29.95 (book).
  • Measuring Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction
    Bob E. Hayes, ASQ Quality Press, 287 pp., $50 list, $30 member (book).
  • Discharge Planning Handbook for Healthcare
    Ali Birjandi and Lisa M. Bragg, CRC Press, 186 pp., $60 (book).

Average Rating


Out of 0 Ratings
Rate this article

Add Comments

View comments
Comments FAQ

Featured advertisers