Liberating Passion

Omar Khan and Paul B. Brown, John Wiley & Sons, 2008, 200 pp., $19.95 (book).

What would happen if employees were passionate about the work they performed, or if managers actively sought to create an atmosphere where that passion could be unleashed? It could have a tremendous effect on productivity, innovation, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and other measures of business success.

Unfortunately, this sentiment does not appear to be the norm in the workplace. The authors of Liberating Passion note a Gallup survey that indicated seven out of 10 workers feel disengaged. Why do so many people lack passion for the work they do?

The book begins by outlining several examples of passion killers: corporate strategy, customer focus and human resources. In each of these examples, the potential exists for energizing employees. But, by focusing on the technical aspects of execution, the joy and passion can be beaten out of the tasks until they become drudgery.

The authors provide a strategy for unleashing the passion that exists within the workforce. The nine points of this strategy provide a better understanding of how passion can be undermined and outline proactive approaches for addressing these passion killers. Some of the approaches focus on what readers can do to influence their own situation, while others can be applied by managers to change the culture within their organizations.

This book provides useful insights for anyone who feels the energy has been drained from their organization. If organizations become truly passionate about how their efforts and products contribute to the success of their stakeholders, change can be transformational. If the reader finds only a few useful pieces of information in this book and becomes only slightly more passionate and fulfilled about his or her own work, then it is worth the time invested.

Reviewed by Rich Anderson
Tucson, AZ

Going Lean

Stephen A. Ruffa, Amacom, 2008, 263 pp., $27.95 (book).

Because the future can’t be predicted, drawing up a lean roadmap is a sensible strategy for most companies. In this book, Ruffa describes a lean roadmap for change that could prove to be very useful.

Ruffa graphically portrays company performance using a value curve, a tool used to study lean dynamics that accounts for a firm’s capabilities based on its creation of value—a key focus of lean. It is an effective tool, because it shows how well corporations sustain positive results in response to dynamic change conditions. In this cyclical system, the value curve helps management understand the impact of process variations on the way value flows, which can lead to more favorable value curves.

Ruffa notes that operational flow interacts with three elements that make up the end-to-end flow of value: organization, information and innovation. Southwest Airlines, Wal-Mart and Toyota are used as examples of companies that have demonstrated the principles of lean dynamics and have transformed their flow to achieve superior results.

Organizations are encouraged to move beyond managing an operating system that was built to rely on consistency and limitless markets that no longer exist in the global economy. The system Ruffa presents challenges organizations to move from supply chains to value streams. In this approach, organizations in the supply chain must be value-stream partners and overcome their individualism to optimize the whole system.

Going Lean should be read by manufacturing executives and their staffs, and is recommended for corporate executives and leaders in quality or materials functions. It also has value for investors, who can learn how to apply the value curve to their portfolios. The book shows how to introduce innovation during downturns, strive for perfection and deliver excellent performance.

Reviewed by John J. Lanczycki Jr.
West Springfield, MA

Measuring Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty

Bob E. Hayes, ASQ Quality Press, 2008, 312 pp., $50 list, $30 member (book).

This book provides a set of guidelines for developing customer satisfaction questionnaires. It is totally self-contained, encompassing all aspects of the process: determining the purpose of the survey, shaping the questions, selecting types of sampling, interpreting the data and following up after the survey is completed and analyzed.

Web-based and traditional hard copy surveys are discussed, and different scenarios showing how surveys can be used to further business processes are presented with specific commercial examples. Hayes also points out many of the subtleties and contradictions found in surveys, as well as the implications of results.

Nearly one-third of the book is presented in the form of appendixes, which are devoted to explaining the more complicated parts of the survey process—such as statistics, measurement, variance and analysis—in a simple, easily comprehendible manner. There is also an extensive bibliography for those looking for more information.

Notable for their clarity are Hayes’ explanations of statistical sampling, measurement and the meaning of customer loyalty. Whenever possible, he also uses examples and figures to speed and enhance understanding. Helping that cause is an attached index, which proves to be a big help, because it’s sometimes necessary to find specific items for reference.

In today’s world, everyone is seraching for answers. This book can aid that search, helping the reader shape the questions needed to gain the information on which meaningful decisions are based. Reading this gave me a deeper understanding and more appreciation for the surveys that come my way—or less, when they’re not done right.

Reviewed by Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Chemicals Inc.

Community: The Structure of Belonging

Peter Block, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 240 pp., $26.95 (book).

This book is not an exploration of or a manual for technical aspects of quality-as-process or quality-as-result. It is not a measurement guide, and it is not a reference on implementing quality within the complexities of communities. The book is a guide that influences thinking about building, maintaining and strengthening communities of people.

Block makes this clear from the beginning, stating, "The essential challenge is to transform the isolation and self-interest within our communities into a connectedness and caring for the whole." He continues, "We begin by shifting our attention from the problems of community to the possibility of community."

Block explores neighborhoods, organizations, governmental units and the people who make things happen in each. An interesting project with this book would be to tie concepts presented and insights that result to quality philosophy—more specifically, how a quality philosophy can deliver results in a community.

The book is recommended for a limited audience—leaders working to develop communities beyond the traditional thinking about governance, measurement, statistics, authority, process control, budgets and the limitations of trying to lead by implementation of policies.

Reviewed by Gerald Brong
Ellensburg, WA

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