Group Dynamics and Organizational Culture

Athena Xenikou and Adrian Furnham, Palgrave MacMillian, 2013, 232 pp., $45 (book).        

Presented as an introductory textbook for use in an academic course, this book offers a well-organized overview of issues, theories and practices for those in leadership and management positions. Though not specific to quality, the ideas presented seem applicable to achieving quality results at the management and executive levels. Topics covered include performance and decision making, dealing with conflicts, group creativity, facilitation, of change and influencing an organizations culture.

The first page of each chapter has a reference outline and a list of objectives. At the conclusion of each chapter, there are questions readers can reflect on or discuss in a group setting. The book is organized on the assumption that readers will use the full book. If used in courses related to management and leadership specific to quality initiatives, the questions and other resources offered in each chapter may be focused on quality.

Though quality specifics are not explored, ideas are applicable to the psychology of an organization where quality is an issue or goal. For example, chapter seven explores performance of an organization and the influences an organization’s culture have on attainment of goals and outcomes. Organizational effectiveness and outcomes of activities—as referenced by the authors—is supported by strong cultures and the culture’s effectiveness may relate to outcomes and results. Goal attainment, decision making based on defined goals, and assessment in process is reflected as dynamics of a complex group or organization is explored.

This book is not recommended as a basic reference to be added to the library of a professional in the field of quality. As a textbook, this book may offer leadership insights related to extending quality programs within groups. Ideas presented in this book can be applied to the broad fields of quality.

Jerry Brong
Ellensburg, WA

The Certified Reliability Engineer Handbook

Donald Benbow and Hugh Broome, ASQ Quality Press, 2013, 360 pp., $89 member, $129 list (second edition, book and CD-ROM).

I found this book to be among a limited number of the published books covering reliability engineering that not only can help individuals prepare for the ASQ Certified Reliability Engineer exam but also provide a valuable resource during and after the exam.

This book is structured in accordance with the exam and body of knowledge (BoK). The book covers the following topics: reliability management, probability and statistics for reliability, reliability in design and development, reliability modeling and predictions, reliability testing, maintainability and availability and data collection and use. Several appendixes near the end cover the BoK, ASQ’s code of ethics and statistical tables.

Each section of the book starts with the related BoK section and most chapters of the book include a number of solved problems that enhance the reader’s understanding of the covered topics. In addition, a CD-ROM is enclosed that offers problems to solve based on the material from each chapter. There is also a simulated exam that approximates to half the size of the actual ASQ Certified Reliability Engineer exam and has problems that are based on the information contained in the BoK.

I strongly recommend this book for individuals who are planning to take the exam and those who are involved in the reliability engineering discipline.

Herzl Marouni

Nursing Leadership For Patient-Centered Care

Harriet Forman, Springer Publishing Company, 2011, 287 pp., $59 (book).

Forman has practiced nursing for more than 30 years, and possesses intimate knowledge of the pros and cons of the profession. She addresses the quality—or the lack of thereof—in hospitals and the nursing profession as an insider, without assigning blame. This book addresses the need for improvement in the quality of nursing management and patient care.

The author emphasizes patient-centered care throughout the book, and provides practical approaches and suggestions for improvement. The language used in the book is simple and without widespread use of technical jargon. The critical factors pertaining to patient-centered include empathy, the three C’s (collaboration, cooperation and communication), effective labor relations, the need to bridge cultural and religious differences, and the role of personality traits in task assignment, among others. She employs these factors in her real-world examples.

There is one chapter dedicated to each of the critical factors containing several examples followed by meaningful discussions. The author provides practical and simple solutions of her own to the issues presented. Each chapter has an excellent summary. In the epilogue chapter, the author delves into matters such as leadership in practice, patient advocacy through safety, the difference between education and training in nursing, critical thinking skills and the current healthcare environment.

This book is a must-read for anyone looking to make quality and process improvements in hospitals, especially with respect to the nursing function. It will also be useful to academicians and doctoral students, healthcare professionals and administrators, and quality professionals that are involved with the world of healthcare.

Rangarajan Parthasarathy
Harvard, IL

Fables and the Art of Leadership: Applying the Wisdom of Mister Rogers to the Workplace

Ian I. Mitroff and Donna D. Mitroff, Palgrave MacMillan, 2012, 222 pp., $95 (book).

The authors of this book knew and worked with Fred Rogers for many years. With this book, they have concentrated his writings and television shows into seven key concepts: connect, concern, creativity, communication, consciousness, courage and community. While adults may deny it, the same questions they had as children persist throughout their lives. Rogers tried to help resolve those questions in a kind and gentle way.

What emerges from this book is a new vision of leadership, centering on five principles:

  • Everyone is a leader.
  • Lifelong self-discovery.
  • Love life and love what you do.
  • Communication is the heart of leadership.
  • To gain power, give it away.

The overarching theme of the book is that there is a desperate need to create improved organizations by promoting emotional health.

Each principle is illustrated with a carefully selected fable and quotes from Rogers’ life, writings and television show. At the end of each fable is a set of thought-provoking questions. During parts two and three, the authors use the Myers-Briggs personality types to explain why various types choose to respond to rules and situations in the ways they do. If you understand the response, you can affect it both before and after.

The focus areas are the authors’ and not Rogers’. They cover: life skills, conflict management styles, defense mechanisms, personality styles and types, crisis management and attachment.

If you enjoyed watching Rogers and learning from him as a child, you’ll enjoy this book. If you need a new way to think about leadership and organizational effectiveness, this is also a good choice for you.

Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Chemicals

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