Making Change in Complex Organizations

George K. Strodtbeck III, ASQ Quality Press, 2016, 142 pp., $30 member, $50 list (book).

In the vein of such platitudes and ineffective statements as "change is difficult," nothing is closer to the truth. Organizations have the same opportunities, regardless of size or focus, and having a plan to strategically adapt to the evolving economic environment is key. The book makes sense out of chaos in its assessment of change and its impact.

Strodtbeck introduces the reader to his personal and professional background. He learned discipline and self-reliance early in life, making money and meeting responsibilities as a child before joining the U.S. Army. He explains his personal experiences as important enough to create a manuscript, with the intent of sharing lessons learned to others in the continuous process improvement profession. Strodtbeck employs some good examples from the military and civilian realms to sharpen his points.

The first example depicts the magnificence and stunning feat that is the creation of an aircraft carrier, the largest moving structure in the world. An aircraft carrier may be an incredibly complex and daunting marvel of technology made possible through no small process, but it also is a sum of its parts, run almost entirely by men and women in their late teens to mid-twenties.

Simple processes add up to large work items, and the key to ensuring success in these items is training and adherence, not necessarily skill requirements and technical acumen.

Commitment to change is another key theme. Any new idea or theory has a small chance of success on its own, but that chance gets greater and greater as a plan is created to guide it toward implementation. Innovation—the starting point of all successful change—begins with a high level of enthusiasm and excitement that can quickly fall away without continuous guidance. As reality sets in, the source of the initial idea experiences a period when enthusiasm and stamina for the idea can be lost. Sources of support get pulled away and tasked with other projects; team members get promoted or leave their jobs. A truly well-planned deployment anticipates changes such as these while keeping the endgame in plain sight.

The keys to successfully implementing change include innovation, strong leadership, commitment and stamina. Having a good idea is only part of the plan. It takes definition, calculation, will and effective communication to carry innovation throughout a continuously-improving culture.

Trevor Jordan
Orlando, FL

Baldrige for Leaders: A Leader’s Guide to Performance Excellence

John Vinyard, ASQ Quality Press, 2016, 88 pp., $14 member, $24 list (book).

The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award’s criteria and its associated model have been supported by the recent creation of the Baldrige Excellence Builder (BEB). The BEB provides a series of questions creating an accessible, high-level overview of the criteria.

This book takes each of the seven categories, 19 items and the organization profile from the Baldrige criteria and provides thoughts and insights on each. The BEB clarifies these questions and gives practical guidance to leaders that can help them better understand and engage with the criteria. The tips, advice and examples are supported by relevant quotes by business leaders. A glossary of key terms is provided.

The key value in this book is that it is short and to the point. It is perfect for a busy leader to pick up, quickly thumb through and get key information he or she needs to understand and implement the criteria. While aimed at leaders, this book is ideal for anyone interested in the criteria to quickly grasp the concepts and their application.

Denis Leonard
Bozeman, MT

Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption

Shane Cragun and Kate Sweetman, Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2016, 192 pp., $21.95 (book).

We are in the age of disruption. Today, you must be able to change internally faster than external change happens. To succeed and survive tomorrow you will be required to create internal change capacity and capability faster than the rate of projected external change. This means doing more than just a simple adjustment. Change before you must. Proactive strategies always prove better than reactive ones.

The authors define reinvention as "quantum individual and organizational change accelerated." Fortunately, the principles for doing both are the same. Cragun and Sweetman also have provided nearly everything to anticipate change and make positive adaptations in your personal and business lives. The material is illustrated by focused, real-life examples of the modifications the world experiences today. It would be difficult not to be able to construct a viable plan by following their blueprints.

The only problem I had with this book is that advertised templates and exercise guidance from the authors’ websites were not available. Initially this was due to a prepublication timeframe, but they were still not available several weeks after publication. Otherwise, everyone will benefit from reading and considering even a small portion of this book.

Marc A. Feldman

How to Manage Complex Programs: High Impact Techniques for Handling Workflow, Deliverables and Teams

Tom Kendrick, Amacom, 2016, 336 pp., $34.95 (book).

Many report that managing programs is one of their most challenging jobs. Quality as process and result is a primary responsibility of program managers. Coordinating multiple project teams, workflows and project activities is a complex task. Kendrick’s book is a reference for process management and command, assessment of processes and results, and reporting on activities underway as well as those completed or awaiting their starting points.

Tom Kendrick has experience as a program manager and as a teacher delivering insights, skills, and ideas for persons undertaking program management responsibilities.

The book reflects effective teaching, learner support, and is a good reference for program managers. Besides being an effective textbook for use in courses and continuing education programs, readers have access to a detailed index and table of contents.

For those entering designing, managing and controlling programs the first four chapters are important. Topics covered include: description of program management, program initiation, management of deliverables, program planning, leadership, execution, program control and closure. Throughout the book, there are references to deliverables, measuring and confirming results, insuring compliance with goals and standards, and communicating with others on results of the program and its outcomes. Quality function deployment is referenced as an effective strategy for confirming outcomes, maintaining goal attainment and managing continuous improvement.

Complete with diagrams, graphs, and real-life examples, this book explains the ins and outs of program management and provides concrete and effective techniques for structuring deliverables, workflow and staffing. It can serve as a how-to reference for experienced program managers as well as anyone new to program management responsibilities. With the charts, diagrams, sample forms and an effective narrative, the book is a useful resource.

Though the book is not focused on quality methods and procedures, ideas on managing complex programs will be useful for those involved in designing a program, implementing processes and strategies of operation, facilitating a program’s operation, and delivering results.

This book could serve as a reference in a teaching-learning program for administrators of quality programs. In an organization’s library of references on effective management, this book is suggested as one of the references.

Jerry Brong
Ellensburg, WA

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