Business is Hard … Failure is Optional

Sam Khoury, For-CEOs-Only LLC, 2009, 112 pp., $16.95 (book).

Although the title and publisher of this slim volume points to CEOs as its target audience, Khoury recommends it to others involved in business and to entrepreneurs. He includes a short test in the preface to determine who might benefit most from the content.

While the subtitle mentions choices and challenges, these are one in the same—choices made will be challenges, and challenges present choices. The author deals with expectations and goals in several chapters.

Remembering that expecting things to be easy makes them harder is good advice for anyone.

Important ideas highlighted in specific chapters and woven throughout the narrative of the book are judgments and decision-making, and identifying and managing during a crisis. Clearly, this book is timely in the midst of an economic recession.

The book also discusses how to communicate with employees and how to understand the important ramifications of decisions. One important note from the author: Every decision affects cash. As a business school professor, I was grateful for the chapter on uncertainty and risk. Managing under uncertainty is an important skill.

The book is not just a set of rules and recipes. It contains many vignettes and personal case histories to support the ideas presented. The book also provides important questions to ask prospective employees and a series of paradoxes CEOs must embrace to be comfortable in the position. I would especially recommend the book to entrepreneurs, as they often start as CEOs but then find the role of managing a business is very different from starting one.

Reviewed by I. Elaine Allen
Babson College
Wellesley, MA

The Supply-Based Advantage

Stephen C. Rogers, Amacom, 2009, 368 pp., $39.95 (book).

In this book, Rogers provides information needed for a company to gain a competitive business advantage through procurement and supply management. He draws from his years of experience with Proctor and Gamble and as a consultant. He guides the reader through all the components necessary to reinforce and secure the supply chain.

Although this area is not one that is emphasized in many businesses, the subject should be of high interest in the current economic circumstances of most companies.

The writing style is clear and to the point, and each chapter builds on the previous one. There are many examples provided about failed and successful implementations of this course of action. The stories showing considerable positive results are realized by pursuing and improving supplier relationships. The book also shows what can happen when supplier relationships are ignored and allowed to deteriorate.

Each chapter begins in with a definition of a crucial term and a quote meant to motivate and encourage understanding. The "Practitioner’s Take" sections allow the author to give candid advice or opinions without skewing the coverage of the topic being discussed. Unfortunately, most readers will have only a vague understanding of their supply chain details or procurement policies and will not truly understand the intricacies and interactions being illustrated.

All employees, especially executives, will benefit from reading this book. The outlined techniques are applicable to small and large companies.

Reviewed by Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Chemicals

Quality Companion 3

Minitab Inc., 2009, $625 single-user new license (software).

Minitab Quality Companion 3 is a dynamic software suite aiding management and execution of quality improvement projects.

New features include a more user-friendly interface, additional templates, import capability for Microsoft Visio diagrams and the ability to create custom data fields and categories.

This software helps the practitioner plan, organize and manage a project through the use of a roadmap that outlines each step of the improvement project, along with the tasks needed for successful project completion. The roadmap includes links to the tools and coaches users through tool selection and usage.

Templates provided in the roadmap include a project charter, process mapping, cause-and-effect diagrams, brainstorming diagrams and multi-voting tools.

Quality Companion 3 also makes it easy for users to share data and to document, review and report on project progress. It also archives information by keeping everything together in one file and through the use of a free utility called "The Dashboard," which promotes standardization, collaboration and communication.

Minitab provides free technical support, online help and demonstrations to make Quality Companion 3 easy to use. Any Six Sigma belt, quality professional or general project manager will benefit from the features and tools available.

Reviewed by Kunita R. Gear
St. Louis

ISO 9001:2008 Internal Audits Made Easy

Ann W. Phillips, ASQ Quality Press, 2009, 176 pp., $24 member, $40 list (book).

After reading and reviewing many internal auditing books, this is one of the better ones. Despite how small it is, it packs a punch. In this third edition for the 2008 version of the ISO 9001 standard, Phillips does a good job of explaining the internal audit process.

Any quality practitioner who has read an auditing book will recognize the typical table of contents, but this book adds a little something that stands out.

For example, in the audit preparation chapter, Phillips states, "Preparing for the audit is the most critical phase of the audit."

She goes on to explain that the internal auditors typically perform one to three audits per year; therefore, to develop the confidence needed to ensure the process they are auditing will be thoroughly reviewed, they must know in advance what they are looking for.

She then goes through a very practical seven-step process on audit preparation. This attention to detail is found throughout the book and makes it worthwhile.

The book includes five appendixes:

  • Sample process models (similar to turtle diagrams).
  • Ten checklists for common processes.
  • Audit preparation example, which is also provided on the CD-ROM that comes with the book.
  • Internal audit forms, which are also provided on the CD-ROM.
  • Revisions related to the 2008 standard, which describes the changes in nontechnical jargon.

The book is an excellent resource and should be on the must-read list of any person who is responsible for the internal audit process or just wants another internal auditing book for their collection.

Reviewed by Wayne Sander
Dove Quality Consulting
Dousman, WI

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