Best Practices in Team Excellence: Using the International Team Excellence Award Framework to Improve Your Organization’s Results

Laurie Broedling and Vern Goodwalt, ASQ Quality Press, 2012, 242 pp., $24 member, $40 list (book).

Improvement challenges are rarely met by individuals. Teams are much more likely to be successful in implementing and effecting lasting positive enhancements. While this book does not tell how to build a well-performing team, it does give you a yardstick to measure against: the proven criteria of the International Team Excellence Award Framework (ITEAF). The higher the rating toward meeting framework criteria, the more likely a successful team outcome will occur.

The authors explain how to use the ITEAF criteria, assessment processes and method. They describe ways to benefit from using the framework as a guide for assessing the team and to provide constructive feedback to it. Using the ITEAF will improve the quality and consistency of a team’s performance, especially on complex problems.

There is little in team dynamics or problem solving that is not covered in the criteria.

Everyone will benefit from reviewing and using the ITEAF criteria and the accompanying appraisal method in developing their team. Examples are given that make it easy to evaluate a teams’ performance. Suggestions are made on how to provide the team feedback to encourage improvement. This book makes it simple to systematize best practices for your teams while preserving flexibility to operate within a company’s culture.

Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Chemicals

Transforming Health Care: Virginia Mason Medical Center’s Pursuit of the Perfect Patient Experience

Charles Kenney, CRC Press, 2010, 248 pp., $40.35 (book).

The book tells the story of a successful transformation and adaptation of the Toyota Production System (TPS)—which is based on lean management principles—at a healthcare institution named the Virginia Mason Medical Center (VMMC). The book describes in detail the journey that VMMC has taken since 2002 in developing and sustaining a patient-centered system focused on quality and safety while eliminating waste. The system has become known as the Virginia Mason Production System (VMPS), and this book provides highlights of some of the reasons for its sustainability.

The book is organized into 10 chapters, and the first chapter sets the tone for the remainder of the book. It outlines the long-term strategic plan devised by VMMC management.

Management found it necessary to reverse the organizational culture from a physician-centric organization to one that was patient-centered. To achieve this goal, a physician compact was created, which defines the center’s and its physicians’ responsibilities in supporting the newly sought culture.

The remaining chapters in the book detail the challenges and the subsequent improvements of the VMPS implementation within various VMMC facilities, such as those providing primary care and surgical services to patients. The common thread among all these improvement initiatives is meeting patient needs by providing better, faster, sustainable and more affordable care.

There are many organizations in the manufacturing and service sectors, such as healthcare, that suffer from wasteful and nonvalue added activities. It is time for the leaders in these organizations to start their own lean journey. Reading this book is a good start to achieving this goal.

Herzl Marouni
ABS Consulting

The Lean Handbook: A Guide to The Bronze Certification Body Of Knowledge

Anthony Manos and Chad Vincent, eds., ASQ Quality Press, 2012, 464 pp., $89 member, $129 list (book).

This book draws from the knowledge and experiences of more than 20 lean practitioners providing a comprehensive overview of the lean philosophy, including many examples, tables, definitions, tools and diagrams relating to a variety of industries.

The title of this book is misleading; however, the editors make it clear in the preface that this book was not intended to be an exam preparation manual but more of a high-level overview of the lean body of knowledge. To that objective, they nailed it.

For a lean practitioner, this book is an excellent resource to own. I found myself frequently diving into the appendix during my workweek to reference tools and topics while I prepared for upcoming lean events. For someone new to lean, this book provides a holistic look at what lean is all about but does not provide a deep dive on any of the topics. I would recommend other lean book titles for people who have no prior experience or knowledge of lean.

The biggest strength of the book is its volume of content covered, and how concise and to-the-point each section is written for experienced process improvement professionals. This is an ideal reference manual to own.

Christopher Spranger
Spranger Business Solutions
Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Strategic Continuous Process Improvement: Which Quality Tools to Use, and When to Use Them

Gerhard Plenert, McGraw-Hill, 2011, 256 pp., $40 (book).

Plenert provides a concise and highly useful overview of the vast toolbox available to continuous process improvement (CPI) methods. It is up to you, the reader, to analyze your situation and select the tool or tools that are most applicable to your quality problems, and then use the tools properly. The author discusses methods and models for CPI, and how to match those methods, models and tools with the problem you are facing. He cites seven cases as examples.

The author does not tell you everything you need to know about a specific method or tool. He does give enough guidance for you to determine applicability and stimulate you to research and learn more. With a plethora of diagrams, checklists, charts and other visual aids, Plenert walks you along the path from problem identification, to analysis, to method and tool integration and application, into implementation, measurement, control and communication.

Aside from learning more about the methods and tools available, the many methods also are categorized and depicted in a Venn-like diagram showing the overlaps. These classifications are used to facilitate the problem-to-method connection. A variety of cases about making the connection are provided. Four pages depict the mapping of one specific case at a manufacturing company and the selection of the tools used by the author.

When you need or want to move the needle toward successful process optimization, this book is what you should read. Regardless of your level of knowledge or experience, you’ll learn more from this author. In addition, the book is an excellent exam preparation study guide to prepare for several ASQ certifications.

Russell T. Westcott
R.T. Westcott & Associates
Old Saybrook, CT

Recent Releases

Quality Caring in Nursing and Health Systems: Implications For Clinicians, Educators and Leaders
Joanne R. Duffy, Springer Publishing, 2013, 328 pp., $55  (book, second edition).

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