Strategic Transformation: Changing While Winning

Manuel Hensmans, Gerry Johnson and George Yip, Palgrave McMillan, 2013, 256 pp., $36 (book).

The authors of this book are senior European professors with considerable experience in the business world and are previous bestselling authors. They combined their talents, conducted research and focused on the pattern of a hero company that turns into a zero company. Why did a successful company that is doing well not see the change coming until it was "too late." To use their words "their picture of what is happening diverges from real events."

The book is divided into three parts. Part one discusses change and identifying long-term high performers. Part two recognizes and analyzes three successful companies. This portion of the book also looks at three competitors that were not successful. Part two contains a lot of data.

In part three, they list their view of four traditions of successful transformation: continuity, anticipation, contestation and mobility, and discuss them in detail. The last chapter provides a plan for long-term success. The authors found that as the companies matured, they tended to move away from a dominant bureaucratic leader toward coalitions of managers that banded together to get things done with alternate solutions. They found a key element to long-term success was this constructive dissent.

The book also features a large notes section that informally discusses important points and the background in each chapter. It should be read by high-level corporate executives, members of management coalitions and boards of directors that can actually change the strategic direction of currently successful companies. This book offers an abundance of helpful tips.

Bill Baker
Speed to Excellence
Santa Fe, NM

Modern Analysis of Customer Surveys: With Applications Using R

Ron Kennett and Silvia Salini, Wiley, 2012, 524 pp., $114 (book).

This book seeks to present basic and advanced methods for analyzing customer survey data. The book consists of 21 chapters and can be divided in two parts. The first nine chapters cover the basics of customer survey analysis, including sampling, surveys, measurement scales, missing data and ordinal data analysis. The last chapters cover new and advanced methods of analyzing surveys. These include Bayesian networks, fuzzy methods, principal components and decision trees.

The book's scope is quite comprehensive and each chapter provides a good overview of the many topics included in the book. It was especially interesting to see topics from psychrometrics and statistical process control applied to survey analysis. The book is not meant for those who are new to the field of survey sampling or those who lack a sufficient background in statistics.

The book does include an introduction to R in the appendix. The R code for methods presented in chapters 11-21 are included on a separate website provided by Wiley. However, the number of examples given is limited and someone new to R would have difficult time learning from the book. Overall, the book would be useful for survey specialists and market researchers already familiar with R and looking for different methods of analyzing survey data.

Brian Cocolicchio
New City, NY

Creating a Kaizen Culture: Align the Organization, Achieve Breakthrough Results, and Sustain the Gains

Jon Miller, Mike Wroblewski and Jaime Villafuerte, McGraw-Hill Professional, 2013, 272 pp., $40 (book).

There is a significant amount of literature related to different improvement programs focused on tangible aspects while neglecting the importance of organizational culture. Too few managers recognize the importance of addressing culture. This book focuses on the links among culture, kaizen core beliefs and various methods and tools that can be observed in organizations practicing kaizen.

Kaizen is not change for the sake of change, or even just change for the sake of improving business—it is change to develop people. The goal is to develop people and help them think differently about the processes they work in. It is not about making things better, but instead making better people.

A core belief of kaizen is the importance of checking process and results. With a kaizen culture, changes are conducted as experiments, as hypotheses to be tested, rather than opinions to be defended. The transformation to a kaizen culture requires that we use scientific methods not as a tool, but as a way of thinking.

This book focuses on long-term adaptability. It is well-structured and easy to read, without jargon. Many real-world examples contribute to the convincing presentation. Its aim to highlight managers’ role and that organizational communication is unique. Even rhetoric is briefly addressed. The book should be read by anyone interested in organizational change and by any manager eager to support the organization’s survival.

Bengt Klefsjö
Luleå University of Technology

A.C.T. Now or Fail! Become an A.C.E. and Lead the Way!

Christopher Whipple, Advanced Corporate Teams, 2013, 366 pp., $45 (book).

Whipple’s book builds on the work by quality gurus and other quality professionals. The author’s established definition for quality makes it very clear that improving quality needs to account for an individual’s perception of all characteristics associated with a product or service and the price paid. A business that strives to increase value and decrease cost will be able to sustain sales growth with competitive advantages in the marketplace over their competitors.

Whipple uses Advanced Corporate Training (A.C.T.)/Teams and Advanced Corporate Executives (A.C.E.) to illustrate his process. A variation on the pyramid is a new and better pictorial for the collaboration required for effective implementation. The pyramid on its side displays collaboration across all functions dealing with supply and information flow for internal and external customers.

His findings show great leaders motivate their followers, which enables the business to achieve long-term sustainability. The economic climate is always changing. It is important to develop strong leaders. Today’s leaders must communicate confidence to the market and strength to competitors. Strong leaders make the difference between success and failure. They know the capabilities required to be successful.

The quality profession has evolved over time to its present state. Whipple’s book presents the next evolutionary steps. People are important and training, communication and collaboration will be required to achieve goals of a successful sustainable business. All business professionals should read this book.

John J. Lanczycki, Jr.
Creative Planners
West Springfield, MA

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