Team Renaissance: The Art, Science and Politics of Great Teams

Richard Spoon and Jan Risher, Old Man River Publishing, 2013, 198 pp., $19.95 (book). 

This book is a useful resource for leaders making decisions regarding the use of teams within their organizations. It offers insights and guidance related to a team’s functions, goals and decisions. The book is targeted to large organizations, but the strategies and techniques explored also can be used in a small business or organization. Professional and trade association groups, community volunteer organizations and even very structured organizations can benefit from the information presented in this book.

This book could be used for teaching a course or workshop, or serve as a desk reference for exploring specific issues, or it could provide leadership and support for a team’s activities. The book discusses philosophies and purposes for having teams and offers specific suggestions for supporting a team’s activities as results are delivered.

The book is easy to read and is useful to leadership in the quality-as-process-and-result field. This book is definitely worth reading if you are interested in team management.

For leaders in organizations focused on delivering quality results this book is a recommended resource. And for those interested in discovering an effective format for a team’s action plan, this book offers a useful model.

Jerry Brong
Ellensburg, WA

Towards Organizational Knowledge: The Pioneering Work of Ikujiro Nonaka

Georg von Krogh, Hirotaka Takeuchi, Kimio Kase, and César González Cantón, editors Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 384 pp., $115 (book).

This book is a scholarly tribute to the work of Ikujiro Nonaka, the person who invented the knowledge-driven organization. It is written by close associates and students and summarizes the history, current status and possible future direction of knowledge management.

Knowledge management is still a fragmented discipline. It encompasses comprehension, creation, codification and capture of data, and then transforms it into information, which culminates in knowledge.

The first part of the book is about the movement of data and information between different types of knowledge. The second part is about how an organization uses these transfers to reach its goals.

The book mainly dissects the origins and theories of knowledge management. It is an academic book that is profusely footnoted and referenced. There are several diagrams that simplify some portions of the topic’s complexity. However, very little is discussed at the shop-floor or practical level.

Those who wish to gain insight into knowledge management at the most fundamental level will gain from reading this book. It will not help anyone accomplish the assimilation or application of knowledge management as it only illustrates and explores the strategies and pathways that information may take during its lifetime within an organization.

Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Chemicals

Problem Solving and Data Analysis Using Minitab: A Clear and Easy Guide to Six Sigma Methodology

Rehman M. Khan, John Wiley & Sons, 2013, 484 pp, $83 (book).

Minitab is a powerful statistical software tool for data analysis, particularly in support of problem-solving models and methods, such as Six Sigma. In this book, the author provides basic statistical theory, procedure guidelines, assumptions and limitations as well as detailed examples and exercises. The book is well written and sequenced in a logical progression.

For those new to Minitab, the book starts with a complete chapter on basic navigation. For those needing a refresher on basic statistics, there is another chapter on that subject. The book then dives into discussing various statistical procedures. Each chapter provides background and theory on the methods. Each procedure is introduced with a table that includes guidelines, assumptions and limitations. In addition, each procedure includes a detailed example and exercises for basic training on the application. There is a final chapter that includes directions on tutorials, web help and access to data-sets for exercises.

The statistical methods included in the Minitab software support the data analysis portion of any problem-solving model and this book provides a bridge between theory and application. This book is an excellent resource to anyone engaged in process or product improvement and problem solving. This book also makes an excellent text in educational or training environments where problem solving and statistical data analysis are the core subject areas.

Bryan Ruggles
The Boeing Co.
Everett, WA

Transforming Culture: Creating and Sustaining Effective Organizations

Elizabeth K. Briody, Robert T. Trotter and Tracy L. Meerwarth, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, 240 pp., $28 (book).

This book is a case study on culture in automobile manufacturing and a story about a cultural transformation within the industry. Although the organizational focus is on General Motors (GM), the principles and practices have widespread use in other industries and types of organizations. Obstacles to cultural transformation are addressed. Tools for aiding cultural transformation are outlined and lessons learned are discussed.

The mid-1980s marked the beginning of GM’s cultural transformation. Changes in its concern for productivity, health and safety measures, and quality improvement occurred and GM achieved a 54% productivity improvement between 1986 and 2007. Work on transforming the overall culture has placed an emphasis on identifying and addressing obstacles to overcome. In doing this, a cultural tool kit was developed:

  • Story packet: A means for identifying the present state.
  • Recipes for success: Guidelines for incorporating a collaborative orientation toward work tasks and relationships.
  • Collaborative questions: Questioning techniques for resolving workplace problems.
  • Cultural hot spots: Means for identifying and dealing with a clash of ideals.
  • Workplace disagreements: Case study formats for practicing collaboration.
  • Work group relationship effectiveness metrics: A measure for assessing collaborative health.
  • Individual relationship effectiveness metrics: A self-assessment tool to help individuals measure and improve their workplace relationship dynamics.

GM found that fostering storytelling is a powerful motivation for change. Employees want to interact effectively with one another and work together at finding solutions to plant problems. Many lessons were learned and as a result new tools were developed and applications implemented. In the end GM discovered that it’s all about relationships.

Russell T. Westcott
Old Saybrook, CT

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