Enterprise Excellence

Normand L. Frigon and Harry K. Hackson, John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ, 2009, 474 pp., $95.00 (book).

This book is organized into 10 chapters, with key points summarized at the end of each. The first chapter is an introduction intended to break the ice on Frigon and Jackson’s definition of enterprise excellence, and its value to the organization. Chapters 2, 3 and 4 focus on management and the deployment of enterprise excellence including change management. Chapters 5 to 10 are focused on improvement tools.

The book is a compendium highlighting Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Malcolm Baldrige national Quality Award in 2007. The book covers the organization’s ambitious approach to outlining all the tools and techniques in lean enterprise and Six Sigma, including the details of using milestone charts and program evaluation and review technique charts.

One of the chapters focuses on all the statistical process control techniques to measure at the shop-floor level and can get heavy technically. But it does not address strategic measurement systems, such as the balanced scorecard or policy deployment techniques.

This book is a good primer for the manager who would like a reference to strategic application of enterprise excellence and how to turn a 1960-era organization on its ear and bring it up to speed in the 21st century. It gives a good description of most improvement tools and when to apply them and is very ambitious, although it barely touches on some of the most important key tools, such as benchmarking and value stream mapping.

Reviewed by Bill Baker
Speed To Excellence
Santa Fe, NM

Executive Focus: Your Life and Career

Grace L. Duffy and John W. Moran, ASQ Quality Press, 2009, 168 pp., $30 list, $18 member (book).

Duffy and Moran have blended their insights and expertise to create a compendium of do’s and don’ts presented in an easy-to-comprehend format. Intended as a stimulus for an executive’s self-assessment and adjustment, this book covers a great deal of ground in a few pages. The writing is as down-to-earth as one can get.

There are 12 chapters, plus a summary. Each chapter begins with a short, succinct list of questions. If the reader answers "yes" to one or more questions, then the door is opened to visit the topics and actions suggested by the questions. You can skip around the book as individual needs and interests may suggest. There are planning tools and suggestions for the reader’s self-adjustment.

This book is not a technical treatise on everything you need to know and do to attain and maintain a successful career as an executive. It provides the opportunity for individual improvement, usually in very simple ways. It would be safe to say that if you adopt, adapt and apply just one suggestion from the 168 pages, your time was well spent, your work became more fun, your stress level was reduced, and quite possibly the people you deal with found you more balanced in your interactions with them.

Let’s look at just four situations the authors address:

  • You are experiencing a conflict between your personal vision and that of your employer. A suggestion is to employ a personal SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).
  • You feel you don’t have the best and most-current information with which to make decisions. The concepts of the balanced scorecard or report card of core business processes and functions is suggested.
  • You are losing people or talent faster than you can recruit, train and assimilate replacements. Suggestions are made for addressing the talent management crisis, one of which is to be sure you include the HR function as an essential member of your executive team.
  • You realize you may not comprehend the details of a problem, but you sense tension in the way people interact with one another. Suggestions are provided for confirming your feeling, understanding the signal you are receiving and developing an appropriate response or action.

Want to adjust one or more aspects of your executive focus? Follow the advice in this book. Keep it close to you until you have squeezed out the last helpful bit of learning possible to enhance your life and your career.

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

Project Management that Works

Rick A. Morris and Brette McWhorter Sember, Amacon, 2008, 240 pp., $24.95 (book).

This book helps readers navigate the politics of project management in the corporate world. Morris and Sember cover the basics of project management, including program evaluation and review technique and work breakdown structure, but the book’s main focus is on less-technical issues. They place emphasis on developing communication skills, teamwork and the importance of customers.

Throughout the book conversations, situations and scenarios are highlighted in actual stories of project managers’ experiences with advice on the best way to deal with those situations. The authors place importance on understanding and provide an evaluation tool to determine your personality characteristics.

The book also considers critical issues such as turning around failing projects, myths about meetings, making positive change to your corporate culture and risk assessment tools. This book is a great complement to more technical books on this topic.

Reviewed by Denis Leonard
Business Excellence Consulting
Bozeman, MT

The Basics of FMEA

Robin E. McDermott, Raymond J. Mikulak, and Michael R. Beauregard, Productivity Press, 2008, 90 pp., $15 (second edition, book).

This book is a handy and useful resource, illustrating how the failure mode effects analysis (FMEA) process with ready-to-use worksheet templates can be used to analyze processes and products for potential failures. It is a standardized process consistent with ISO/TX 16949:2002 and the Automotive Industry Action Group guidelines. For leaders committed to quality and engaged problem-solving teams, the book is clear on how to perform FMEAs step by step.

There are tips for a good FMEA, including the need to complete the FMEA form with lists of multiple effects and listing actions to be taken to prevent the occurrence of a failure. Responsibilities for the actions need to be assigned and tracked, as good project management requires. Careful consideration for risks associated with quality, equipment, safety, materials, processes and costs must be done with due diligence to protect the customers from receiving noncompliant products.

This book will assist the problem-solving team in understanding the fundamentals of FMEA. A cross-functional team is strongly recommended. The book offers severity, occurrence and detection scales to be used for various industries and processes (manufacturing and administrative). It is noted that team leaders need to balance the rigor of doing an FMEA so as not to overwhelm participants. Follow-through on actions is critical, and driving actions across the board in a systematic way is also important.

The authors demonstrate how the FMEA process can be a continuous learning process to mitigate the risks of future product and process development.

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

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