The Public Health Quality Improvement Handbook

Ron Bialek, Grace L. Duffy and John W. Moran (editors), ASQ Quality Press, 2009, 480 pp., $47 member, $70 list (book).

Truly an all-encompassing handbook, this serves as a reference guide for quality improvement as it applies to public health. It does not stop at quality improvement methods; it also includes case studies and other techniques. The quality of the writing is uniform.

Prior to examining quality improvement techniques and applying the Baldrige criteria as a framework, the authors discuss the design and deployment of public health and the importance of identifying performance measures that can be applied in the public health arena.

Chapters on leading and lagging indicators for public health, applying lean Six Sigma and accreditation are especially important in a resource-constrained environment.

There are also chapters on the basic and advanced tools of quality improvement and how to recognize the techniques you are already using that are helping to reach performance goals.

The case studies look at the community environment and involvement, and how to create conditions that allow for performance measurement.

The final chapters examine risk management and ethics in applying performance management measures. Perhaps because it is related to health, this is the first time I have seen a chapter on ethics in a quality improvement handbook, an addition I’d welcome in all future handbooks on all areas of quality improvement.

I. Elaine Allen
Babson College
Wellesley, MA

Root Cause Analysis: The Core of Problem Solving and Corrective Action

Duke Okes, ASQ Quality Press, 2009, 200 pp., $27 member, $45 list (book).

If there is an area within the Six Sigma body of knowledge (BoK) that seems to get overlooked, it is root cause analysis (RCA). The book goes beyond five whys and fishbone diagrams to develop a cohesive problem-solving method that is general enough to be used in any industry or situation and simple enough for anyone to understand and use.

The book spends the first two chapters developing a rationale for the DOIT^2 model and covering the difference between symptoms and problem causes. Chapters 3 to 9 cover each of the steps in the DOIT^2 method, and the last three chapters briefly cover organizational issues, human error analysis (a subject worthy of its own book) and corrective actions.

The book is a fast read, and each chapter covers just enough for the reader to understand. It was nice to see elements of Kepner-Tregoe Problem Analysis and logic trees used to define problems and find root causes.

Oakes also covers the use of seven basic quality tools, as well as brainstorming. There is a worksheet in the appendix that can be used to document an RCA, as well a list of other books and websites the reader can consult for more information.

The major weakness of the book is the lack of examples. While there are some examples given on the use of the tools in the DOIT^2 method, more would have been better.

In addition, the section on example projects could have been expanded and made into a chapter of its own instead of being in the back of the book as an appendix.

Overall, this is a good book on RCA for someone who is beginning to learn about the subject or for those who may want to teach their employees a relatively simple approach to problem solving and RCA.

Brian Cocolicchio
New City, NY

The Certified Reliability Engineer Handbook

Donald W. Benbow and Hugh W. Broome, ASQ Quality Press, 320 pp., $80 member, $133 list (book and CD-ROM).

As a handbook, this book provides comprehensive and up-to-date coverage of the ASQ Certified Reliability Engineer (CRE) examination. The accompanying CD-ROM provides sample CRE problems and simulated tests.

The book provides a guided tour of how the exam is set up and not much more. It provides required content with formulas, calculations and examples of how tools are applied to reliability problems. The efforts, however, are not a total success. The problem is that the depth and the scope of the coverage is meager. 

From the newly revised six levels of cognition (six levels of cognition in the BoK: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and create) the majority of the material stays at level one. The materials provided barely scratch the surface and there is no discussion about how to improve understanding or how the techniques can be applied.

I recommend this book as a good reference for beginners in the field of reliability. Others may require more to enhance their comprehension on other subjects described in this book. 

Shin Ta Liu
Lynx Systems
San Diego

Lean for the Process Industries

Peter L. King, CRC Press, 2009, 358 pp., $49.95 (book).

The author, drawing on more than 40 years of experience at one of the world’s largest process industries, writes his interpretation of lean principles as they apply to the process industry, which differ from those in the manufacturing/assembly industry.

The first part of the book is typical of any book on lean principles, as King goes through and summarizes the 14 lean tools. He makes his main point for the book by distinguishing between the process and manufacturing/assembly industries.

From there, he again leads the reader through the lean principles, this time identifying those that need little modification:

  • Total productive maintenance.
  • Setup reduction.
  • Visual management.
  • Kaizen events.

He then identifies the lean principles that require a different approach for the high volume, variety and demand of the process industry:

  • Bottlenecks.
  • Cellular manufacturing.
  • Product wheels production scheduling.
  • Postponement.
  • Pull replenishment systems.
  • Supermarket design.

The book is well written and has many examples, diagrams and formulas to apply the concepts described.

Wayne Sander
Dousman, WI

Recent Releases

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