Maintaining Mission Critical Systems in a 24/7 Environment

Peter Curtis, Wiley-IEEE Press, originally published in 2011 and reissued in 2013, 512 pp., $115 (book, second edition).

I wanted to read a true engineering textbook, and that is certainly the case with Curtis’ writings. This is a true compendium on the topic, and its quality is built on a logical structure, extensive research and a small army of contributors. Modern society is built on its extensive use of high-quality utilities, reliable design of power systems, robust infrastructure and being able to access each of these, literally, whenever we want. When properly combined and maintained, we overlook the science and technology behind such systems. Yet when we have power outages and building failures, for example, we are instantaneously aware, whether it is for our own needs or the needs of a nation.

The book covers the design, operation and maintenance of those systems that support our modern society. Using the 24/7 goal, the author breaks out the engineering systems, the parameters, choices of machinery and safe operating limits of various equipment types and systems. He and his contributors also describe the safety aspects along with cost considerations that engineers and architects must choose from when building or designing systems such as worldwide support and computer operation centers.

The book is highly detailed using 14 chapters, three appendixes, a glossary, a bibliography and an index. Lastly, the author includes 225 audit-type questions that can help design, assess and select equipment for new designs, for refurbishments or for basic auditing. If you are in this field, Curtis’ book is a necessary read and a handy reference from an experienced team of supporters.

Frank Pokrop
CareFusion Inc.
San Diego

The Executive Guide to Innovation

Jane Keathley, Peter Merrill, Tracy Owens, Ian Meggarrey and Kein Posey, ASQ Quality Press, 2014, 184 pp., $18 member, $30 list (book).

The authors collaborated on this book to share their insights on innovation through years of experience from varied backgrounds. There are 10 chapters that outline all aspects of innovation. The first few chapters cover the basics, including the definition, the types of innovation and the comparison to continuous improvement. Leading from the top to build and sustain an innovative culture is also discussed in several short, but effective examples.

Chapter five covers innovation strategy and is the most insightful and useful chapter. It provides best practice tips on how to focus the organization on the path to move from core competencies to market share growth. Chapters four and nine offer short case studies that will help make executives more comfortable. Sharing this speed of learning without having to endure the difficulties is a strong concept in the book. Chapter 10 covers the aspects of sustaining and maintaining the edge after the right path has been achieved.

The book is a good quick-read for top executives looking to understand and drive their own innovation strategy. It also can help mid-level managers understand how they can best fit in and support innovation. Balancing the factors of finance, people, infrastructure and cultural reinforcement by leadership is the key.

Bill Baker
Speed to Excellence
Santa Fe, NM

Insights to Performance Excellence 2013-2014

Mark L. Blazey, ASQ Quality Press, 2013, 384 pp., $56 member, $92 list (book and CD-ROM).

This book addresses the core elements necessary for achieving an integrated management system and satisfying the requirements of the Baldrige criteria. The author has spent a substantial portion of his professional life helping people understand the power and benefits of an integrated management system and become examiners for many performance excellence awards.

Because of the complexity of modern management systems, the Baldrige criteria used to examine and evaluate them are also justifiably complex. This book explains the 2013-2014 Baldrige award criteria in a crystal clear manner, including the links and relationships between the items. In doing so, it also simplifies and teaches an integrated approach to modern management, necessary to achieve and sustain performance excellence.

The book begins with a detailed introductory chapter that explores the management system at large and provides information about the Baldrige criteria. There is a section devoted to lessons learned and another one detailing examination categories and the maximum points assigned to each, followed by a discussion.

Chapters one through seven go into greater detail on the Baldrige award examination categories. Finally, there are shorter chapters with tips for preparing a Baldrige award application, clarifying the Baldrige scoring requirements and the questions typically asked during a site visit. The book comes with a CD-ROM, which contains a process calendar, applications, templates and guides.

This book is a must-read for leaders and managers of organizations seeking performance excellence, as well as for examiners of quality systems. The book could also be a valuable guide for quality managers, operation managers and students during their journey to understand the tenets of performance excellence and ways to achieve performance excellence in business organizations.

Anuradha Rangarajan
Harvard, IL

Modular Kaizen: Continuous and Breakthrough Improvement

Grace L. Duffy, ASQ Quality Press, 2014, 224 pp., $36 member, $60 list (book).

Duffy offers words of wisdom on how to apply proven quality concepts, practices and tools when an organization is coping with priority issues while continuously being interrupted.

This work places a focus on up-front planning. Duffy’s main points in this book are that modular kaizen:

  • Integrates quality improvement methods into the often chaotic tempo of an organization’s business.
  • Is complementary to plan-do-check-act and define, measure, analyze, improve, control models of quality improvement. It embraces the use of familiar quality tools.
  • Plans and launches improvement projects on a timeline that accommodates the volatile nature of the core business.
  • Applies to virtually all organizations in all industries, and in global as well as local environments.

The book also dives into an extensive discussion on the use of the balanced scorecards and other similar tools for providing means for aligning performance, measurement and decision-making throughout the organization. There is a chapter describing the deployment of multiple fishbone diagrams, and there is another chapter devoted to process and outcome measures. Importantly, analyzing, addressing and removing system disruption is discussed.

In three separate chapters, this book describes the application experiences of three organizations: an automotive manufacturer, a healthcare organization and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. A guide in the form of a set of personalized case study worksheets is available for modification from a healthcare focus to fit your organization’s needs.

Regardless of your educational and occupational orientation, you will find valuable and practical concepts, practices and useful and unique tool application suggestions in this book.

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

Recent Release

Breakthrough Improvement With QI Macros and Excel
Jay Arthur, McGraw-Hill Professional, 2014, 190 pp., $40 (book).

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