Mike Micklewright, 2010, 256 pp., $20 member, $34 list (book).
W. Edwards Deming published Out Of the Crisis in 1982. That book and the seminars Deming conducted were key elements in the quality movement in the United States during the 1980s. At that time, Deming was one of the giants in the world of quality and he shaped the thinking of a generation of quality professionals.
In this book, Mickelwright examines how well American businesses have embraced Deming’s principles during the intervening years. His conclusion is that CEOs get a failing grade on a majority of Deming’s 14 Points.
Micklewright also offers his opinion of how Deming might view the various performance improvement efforts being pursued today. He uses Deming’s 14 Points to evaluate lean, Six Sigma, offshoring, Black Belts, ISO 9001 and other quality management system standards, such as balanced scorecards and root cause analysis.
In some cases, he finds congruence with the 14 Points. In many cases, however, he finds that leaders are applying tools without first establishing a framework of principles upon which their companies will operate. Micklewright blames this failure of leadership for the poor performance of American corporations.
Business leaders and quality professionals will benefit from reading Micklewright’s diagnosis of the current state of American business. After considering this assessment of the current situation, readers will want to find a copy of Deming’s book to reexamine the principles he espoused and identify a path forward to a future of improved quality and productivity.
Models of Network Reliability: Analysis, Combinatorics and Monte Carlo
Ilya B. Gertsbakh and Yoseph Shpungin, CRC Press, 2010, 217 pp., $82.95 (book).
This book is unusual. It is designed as a textbook for a one-semester graduate course in network reliability analysis. The application areas covered by this topic include software engineering, industrial engineering and computer science.
The book covers practical and theoretical aspects of efficient Monte Carlo algorithms used to model networks and estimate their reliability parameters. The power of these algorithms is in their handling of topological properties of the network. The 13 chapters and three appendixes make the material accessible to readers with a basic background in reliability.
Formal proofs are minimally presented, the methods are widely supported by examples and exercises, and guidelines for developing computer programs are provided. The authors encourage readers to write such programs to achieve deep understanding of the methods. But, parts of the book, such as chapter 12 on dynamic networks, deal with new and complex issues in network reliability.
Overall, this book can be used by students in courses covering reliability networks by reliability engineering practitioners looking for an accessible source of information and by researchers interested in the problems presented.
Ron S. Kenett
Statistics for Engineers: An Introduction
S.J. Morrison, John Wiley & Sons, 2009, 192 pp., $70 (book).
Morrison is an engineer who attempts to create a text that provides statistics basics to engineers while providing an extensive list of references for further study. For the most part, he accomplishes this task by providing useful statistical tools for engineers, along with references to and lists of various publications.
The first five of the eight chapters contain the statistical basics for engineers. Topics range from the nature of variability to more complex topics, such as multiple regression and design of experiments. In all of the statistical presentations, the focus is on understanding the sources of variation and either controlling or reducing variation from the concept stage to manufacturing. Presentation of the statistical material is brief and contains examples. Extensive reference lists are given for those wanting a deeper understanding of the techniques presented.
One of the unique topics presented is variance synthesis. This topic is not covered very often in other publications. Chapter 4 presents a good example of this technique.
The remaining three chapters of the book are dedicated to measurement, statistical computing and quality management. Statistical engineering is woven into all the chapters.
Overall, this book is a good start for the engineer who wants some basic knowledge of statistical engineering techniques without having to wade through a lot of statistical formulae or proofs. It is also a good guide to other publications that cover each topic in more detail.
S.C. Johnson & Sons
Laws of Communication: The Intersection Where Leadership Meets Employee Performance
Richard Schuttler, John Wiley & Sons, 2009, 384 pp., $35 (book).
This book is based on the belief that employee and organizational performance is directly related to how effectively management communicates with its workforce. It provides a simple and straightforward approach to assessing an organization’s communication effectiveness and resulting performance.
In section one, Schuttler introduces two laws of communication and a stoplight metaphor used for assessment. Law #1: Failure of supervisors to communicate effectively with subordinates results in poor employee performance. Law #2: Failure of the organization to communicate effectively results in poor organizational performance.
The stoplight metaphor is a three-zone, red, yellow and green rating scale. Schuttler’s rating scheme is then linked to the organizational performance characteristics typically associated with each performance zone.
Following section one, 21 supplemental authors complete the rest of the book. These authors apply Schuttler’s laws and metaphor to a broad range of industries and situations. Chapters are arranged in sections covering the significance of communication, applying the laws of communications and assessing communication in organizations.
Schuttler’s opening section clearly and succinctly covers the main topic. Additional chapters are well-written and cover a broad range of specific applications.
Several of the chapters are anecdotal stories of poor communication linked to the two laws and stoplight metaphor. Other chapters address more academic subjects of communication, leadership and organizational performance. There are kernels of wisdom in each of the chapters, but in some cases, the story did not substantively add anything new.
Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center
- ISO 9001:2008 for Small and Medium-Sized
Denise E. Robitaille, ASQ Quality Press, 2011, 152 pp., $30 member, $50 list (book, second edition).
- Making it All Work: A Pocket
Guide to Sustain Improvement and Anchor Change
John R. Schultz, Routledge, 2010, 168 pp., $125 (book).