We Move Our Own Cheese! A Business Fable About Championing Change 

Victor E. Sower and Frank K. Fair, ASQ Quality Press, 2017, 112 pp., $15 member, $25 list (book).

The prologue advises readers that the moral of the story is to create change. The book tells the story of how it is possible to move your cheese, take actions, be successful and maximize quality delivered by organizations. Sower and Fair, the authors of this fable, provide a story in which issues, questions and actions lead to change in an organization. Elevating levels of quality and successes result in the fable as effective decisions are made.

The title points out that "we move our own cheese" by putting forward the idea that "it is me" that can be a champion for change. The fable, and the exploration of change, are based on the concept that "we" can make needed things happen.

This is not a guidebook with step-by-step procedures outlined on what to do to create change. It is a thought-provoking tool to bring thinking forward about, yes, moving cheese. And, moving of the cheese is intended to result in improving operations, opportunities and outcomes for an organization.

 This book could be a resource used in a staff development activity or to set the tone for creative thinking in an organization when change is needed. The index has links to issues that may be important to thinking about change.

The 14 short chapters, plus the prologue, are followed by an epilogue focused on theories of organizational change and important points from the fable as they may relate to organizations from which the readers come or organizations the readers wish to influence.

This is definitely not the technical manual typically found in the quality field. But it is a thought-provoking tool to be used as change is considered and change results in contentiously improving quality. It is a fun, thought-provoking read, and results in idea generation. In addition, the authors' approach may be viable for other resources in the quality field.

Gerald R. Brong
Ellensburg, WA

The High-Velocity Edge: How Market Leaders Leverage Operational Excellence to Beat the Competition

Steven J. Spear, McGraw-Hill Education, 2010, 432 pp., $32 (book).

The author is a highly regarded senior lecturer at MIT and assistant professor at Harvard University. He has won multiple Shingo Prize awards for his research, and the book is based on that research. He defines the four capabilities that will set companies apart in the 21st century to address the high-velocity of business. They are: system design and operation, problem solving, knowledge sharing and developing high-velocity skills.

The author states that successful organizations depend on their ability to accumulate useful knowledge more quickly than their competitors. Combining an individual’s experiences with many others is the key to innovation and process improvement at a high velocity. The author dives into capturing and sharing knowledge and concludes that experiments and prototypes are for learning, making mistakes and sharing knowledge across the board. Leaders are responsible for developing others by mentoring and building the self-sustaining organization.

Chapter 10 covers high-velocity crisis recovery, and it is centered on a fire at a plant of Toyota’s supplier of brake line and clutch parts. The chapter describes how 90% production was achieved in a week. In Chapter 11, Spear addresses capable healthcare organizations by identifying high-velocity healthcare leaders and best practices in some of the specific care situations.

Overall, this book is a good overview of the high-velocity requirements and tools to achieve market speed and a leading organization. It is a recommended read for middle managers and C-suite leaders who want to take an active part in creating the future.

Bill Baker
Santa Fe, NM

Leading the Malcolm Baldrige Way: How World-Class Leaders Align Their Organizations to Deliver Exceptional Results

Kay Kendall and Glenn Bodinson,McGraw-Hill Education, 2016, 240 pp., $50 (book).

Authors Kendall and Bodinson, present a high-level guide to implementing the Baldrige quality criteria in any type of organization. Both authors have more than 20 years of experience as quality executives leading large-scale change initiatives in diverse industries, as well as extensive experience as national and state quality award examiners.

The book includes a concise history of and introduction to the Baldrige criteria and award. This is followed by a discussion of the importance and drivers of employee engagement, using data to drive improvement. Particular challenges of implementing Baldrige in large and small organizations and creating a culture of improvement are highlighted. Included among the important principles are extensive candid comments and interviews with CEOs and middle managers from different types of organizations with first-hand experience preparing for and successfully obtaining the Baldrige award.

The contents cover common questions asked by leaders new to Baldrige, as well as comments from multiple Baldrige award winners. The book concisely relates the most important principles that form the foundation of the award and serves as a marvelous first-step introduction to the award, the application, the process, and the long-term journey toward quality improvement.

The key focus is on benchmark objectives, employee engagement, workforce alignment and leadership’s commitment to the process. The many honest, practical comments help to further connect this valuable resource with leaders interested in creating an effective culture that will propel their organization toward never-ending quality.

Dale Farris
Groves, TX

Fundamentals of  Project Management

Joseph Heagney, Amacom, 2016, 240 pp., $17.95 (fifth edition, book).

This book is the outcome of a study led by the Project Management Institute that resulted in an increased emphasis on the basics or fundamental concepts of project management. This back to basics approach is being emphasized because more novices are moving into the workforce with minimal project management experience while still possessing a great deal of book smarts. This is not a classic textbook nor does it use a classic approach, but it is an interesting and unique read because it provides stories and lessons-learned on the frontline of many years of project management.

Heagney’s book, now in its fifth edition, provides clues and reinforcement to his learning objectives. At the end of most chapters, the author provides two unique tools. First, in the key points to remember section, the author reinforces the main lessons from each chapter. Second, the exercise section offers a series of questions or problems readers should study and try to answer.

Finally, the book is amply illustrated with figures diagramming various project criteria such as personal relationships, budgetary guides, financial constraints, tools for measuring and monitoring time, and how to calculate the progress of a project.

The book has been well received in prior editions and has been reviewed and commented on by many other readers. It is easy to read and somewhat hard-hitting, but the benefits and purpose are also quite clear. Heagney wants people to succeed in project management and be prepared for the many surprises that each project brings.

A reader will come to respect the author because his lessons are true to life and written with a clear goal and an overall purpose of helping readers no matter what their experience level. This is a worthy edition to the library of any project manager.

Frank Pokrop
San Diego

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