The Rudolph Factor

Cyndi Laurin and Craig Morningstar, John Wiley and Sons, 2009, 165 pp., $21.95 (book).

This short book, organized into eight chapters, a foreword, a preface and an epilogue, chronicles Boeing’s C-17 Program from 1992 to 2007.  Boeing initiated major change when the C-17 program was threatened with extinction in 1992, which provided a literal "burning platform" for the organization. Change in leadership began first, and the approximately 10% of the population that are change agents were empowered to innovate and generate positive change. The program was awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1998.

The authors establish what they contend are the four pillars of organizational greatness. The first pillar entails establishing a Rudolph culture, which involves finding and nurturing the employees who light the way with their creative, out-of-the-box thinking and building an organizational culture around them. The three following pillars are redefining leadership, writing a corporate constitution and aligning a reward structure.

There is a short summary at the end of each chapter to remind readers of prime lessons. Chapters 5 through 8 are dedicated to discussing the four pillars in detail with examples. Chapter 5 also lists the 10 lessons learned on the C-17 journey, which are helpful when looking at initiating and sustaining organizational change.

This book is a good primer for the leader or manager who would like to understand what is required in a long-term journey to excellence. This approach is not for a short-term fix, but must be embraced by a leadership team that is ready for a major change and that is willing to stick with it over the long term.

Although the book is relatively short, it does provide the principles and testimonials that substantiate it as a great buy.

Bill Baker
Speed to Excellence
Santa Fe, NM

Six Sigma for the New Millennium

Kim H. Pries, ASQ Quality Press, 2009, 456 pp., $92 list, $55 member (second edition, book).

This book is a body of knowledge guidebook explicitly designed for ASQ’s Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB) exam preparation. Written at a novice level, the book is designed to guide the reader through the CSSBB body of knowledge in a logical and orderly fashion.

Pries divides the text into nine chapters. Chapter 1 covers enterprisewide deployment, chapter 2 reviews organizational process management and measures, and chapter 3 focuses on team management. Chapters 4 through 8 follow the traditional Six Sigma define, measure, analyze, improve and control phases, while the final chapter is dedicated to design for Six Sigma.

All the traditional Six Sigma tools are covered in the appropriate chapters. Statistics and hypothesis testing are covered, but not in depth. Thus, previous statistical knowledge or some additional statistical resources may be required to understand and use the formulas and analysis.

From a reference perspective, this work is replete with tables, figures, formulas and tool examples. The book is logically laid out, and with the help of the table of contents, specific subjects are quickly identified and located––an important factor when taking the CSSBB test.

This is not a book you will curl up with and read cover to cover for pleasure. It is, and was designed to be, a CSSBB resource manual. It makes an excellent reference resource, as well as a comprehensive study guide.

James Kotterman
Michigan Manufacturing
Technology Center
Plymouth, MI

The Ultimate Improvement Cycle

Bob Sproull, CRC Press, 2009, 288 pp., $59.95 (book).

This book does a good job of integrating lean, Six Sigma and the theory of constraints to create a combined method. The Ultimate Improvement Cycle (UIC) approach is well described, but the book does not explain lean, Six Sigma or the theory of constraints individually or in depth.

The strengths and weaknesses of each are identified and aligned. The UIC is created by combining the steps for each and then providing an overview of each step. It covers value stream mapping, performance metrics, waste and constraints, reducing variation and defects, and environments for change.

One drawback is the use of abbreviations. Even if you are very familiar with them, they can make reading frustrating.

The book’s overview of lean, Six Sigma and the theory of constraints is obvious. This is not a book for novices because knowledge is assumed. But for the veterans, the UIC will help to ensure integration.

Denis Leonard
Business Excellence Consulting
Bozeman, MT

Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help

Edgar H. Schein, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2009, 167 pp., $22.95 (book).

We are all familiar with how to offer, give and receive help. Many words can be used for help, such as assisting, advising, coaching, consulting, guiding, mentoring, supporting and teaching. Although we have all offered help, our efforts often are ineffective and sometimes even rejected.

This book is divided into nine chapters. Four of the chapters illustrate the many forms of helping by describing the three different kinds of helping roles and by showing how important it is to avoid unbalanced and ambiguous relationships.

How to begin a helping relationship with humble inquiry is the focus of chapter 5 and examples are provided in the following chapter. Then, the model presented in this book illuminates some of the essential aspects of teamwork and organizational change management. Finally, principles and tips are given in the last chapter.

Overall, this book is an easy-to-read psychological analysis of giving and receiving desirable and effective help. It is recommended specifically for consultants, mentors and teachers, whose work is, essentially, providing effective help. However, because helping is a common fundamental human action, this book could be useful for anyone in their daily lives.

Martín Tanco
Tecnun (University of Navarra)
San Sebastian, Spain

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