Breakthrough Improvement With QI Macros and Excel: Finding the Invisible Low-Hanging Fruit

Jay Arthur, McGraw Hill, 2014, 190 pp., $40 (book).

This book is intended for those who want to analyze data using MS Excel to generate problems and find solutions for quality improvement. It is written in simple and easy-to-understand language so readers with little to no data analysis or MS Excel skills can understand and apply the presented material.

There is a chapter on how to use MS Excel formulae to prepare data for charting or analysis. It helps beginners observe and learn from their data even before starting analysis. Seven tools of breakthrough improvement are discussed: value stream maps and spaghetti diagrams, pivot tables, control charts, Pareto charts, histograms, fishbone diagrams and matrix diagrams. There is a very interesting and useful section on how to perform data mining using MS Excel.

Readers with little statistical knowledge or skill should be able to apply the statistical tests presented to real-world scenarios after reading portions of this book. Accompanying the book is a website with access to free video training and links to YouTube videos for each chapter of the book.

This book is a must-read for all quality professionals, especially process improvement personnel, quality engineers and quality managers. At the same time, this book is an asset for employees at all levels interested and involved in data collection and analysis to identify key problems and solve them.

Rangarajan Parthasarathy
Harvard, IL

ISO 9001:2008 Explained and Expanded: Making Your Quality Management System Sustainable

Charles A. Cianfrani and John E. "Jack" West, ASQ Quality Press, 2014, 176 pp., $30 member, $50 list (book).

The title of this book is a little deceiving, especially with the new standard coming out next year. However, the authors have enough material in this book to carry over to the 2015 standard and still be effective. The first couple of chapters were slow getting started, but it got better and better as the chapters rolled on.

The authors make readers think about the sustainability of their quality management systems (QMS). Some of the ideas will be radical to some organizations but they are not new. The ideas include:

  • Learning needs to be taken out of HR and placed within the various functional areas of the organization.
  • Use the design process of the standard to improve processes and manage the interfaces between different groups involved.
  • Correction of a problem is not the same as corrective action that identifies and resolves the root cause.
  • Quality objectives should measure independent variables and not response variables.
  • The improvement process should be robust but simple.
  • Reduce complexity of the documentation structure—complexity causes problems.
  • Conduct a self-assessment in addition to the internal audit process.
  • Determine when major changes are necessary to the QMS.
  • If management review meetings do not result in a QMS change, then the organization is wasting its time.

The ideas presented in the book do not go beyond the intent of the ISO 9001 standard but rather provide insight of what the ISO 9001 standard was intended to be. For the quality managers that are willing and have the courage to initiate the ideas presented in the book, their companies will be better for it.

Wayne Sander
Dove Quality Consulting
Dousman, WI

Kaizen Kreativity (OOPS!): Don’t Be Afraid of Looking Stupid. I’m an Expert at It.

Tom DePaoli, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014, 175 pp., $29.95 (book).

This book is a series of reminders from a mentor—rather than an instructional volume—for those charged with organizing and implementing a kaizen event. DePaoli shares his definition of kaizen and gives a totally pragmatic summary of how to organize a kaizen event and get the most from it.

There is a brief description of kaizen tools, but no in-depth review of any common elements of kaizen. While keeping in mind that kaizen is used for speed and success, tips on using the tools are given where appropriate. It is presumed the reader is already familiar with the concepts and individual parts that make up traditional kaizen.

Many success stories and suggested pre-event exercises are given to aid or train participants in preparation for a successful kaizen event. Included in the appendix is a workbook, glossary, a few illustrations and a good index to find specific items as needed.

Above all, the message here is make kaizen fun. One way to make and keep it fun is to not use kaizen for inappropriate problem solving or to fail to make proper preparations prior to the event. This book is for those who are new to kaizen, experts or experienced practitioners. All will find it to be an informative resource to prepare for a kaizen event at your organization.

Marc A. Feldman
Solvay Chemicals Inc.

Unlocking Your Brilliance: Smart Strategies for Women to Thrive in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Karen D. Purcell, Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2012, 145 pp., $21.95 (book).

This is a guidebook for young women who wish to have a career in one of the science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) areas and may be embarking on uncharted territories. An easy and quick read, this book also might provide insights for instructors in STEM programs.

While some of the chapters read a bit like cheerleading for STEM, the author has some very good advice throughout the book. In particular, she gives good reasons why women should not try to adopt someone else’s managerial style. She also counsels women to do their jobs well. If they do, respect will follow.

Any woman working in a STEM area knows that you are probably the minority in an organization of men and to thrive in it, you must become part of it rather than being a separate island of women.

There is a chapter on "having it all" but rather than encouraging a lifestyle where you might spread yourself too thin, the author advises regular self-evaluation and deciding where you want to put your time. Clearly, the author has been highly successful in engineering and her personal story is inspiring.

As a companion to STEM textbooks, this book may help women overcome real and perceived barriers to success in male-dominated industries.

I. Elaine Allen
University of California, San Francisco

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