The ASQ CSSYB Study Guide

Erica L. Farmer and Grace L. Duffy, ASQ Quality Press, 2017, 176 pp., $30 member, $50 list (book)

This study guide was undertaken by the authors to address the 2015 Six Sigma Yellow Belt body of knowledge (BoK) and to facilitate successful preparation for the ASQ Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification exam. The guide consists of two sections, five parts and three appendixes.

Section one contains 151 sample questions covering the five parts of the Yellow Belt BoK: Six Sigma fundamentals, and the define, analyze, improve and control phases.

Section two provides 136 additional practice questions from each of the five parts of the BoK, presented in random order.

Two of the appendixes cross-reference the questions to one of six recommended references, while the final appendix is a Six Sigma conversion table.

The questions for each part are followed by a solutions section, which includes the answer, a discussion for why the selected answer is correct, the category of the BoK the question addresses and the corresponding reference.

While not an exhaustive treatment, this study guide can be used to increase your general knowledge of the subject matter and should prove helpful in preparing for the exam.

Kunita Gear
Maryville, TN

Insights to Performance Excellence 2017-2018: Using the Baldrige Framework and Other Integrated Management Systems

Mark L. Blazey with Paul L. Grizzell, ASQ Quality Press, 2017, 400 pp., $56 member, $92 list (book)

This book is intended to be a teaching and reference text to help leaders identify and implement an effective, customer-focused management system for continuous improvement. The latest edition has been updated with the criteria and scoring guidelines for the 2017-2018 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) Criteria for Performance Excellence.

The 2017-2018 Baldrige Excellence Framework has an additional focus on cybersecurity and enterprise risk management as areas of growing importance to an organization’s long-term success.

In addition, the companion CD-ROM has been modified with additional resources and scoring guidelines based on the 2017-2018 criteria for a broad range of organization types, including non-profit, education and healthcare.

Although this handbook is primarily designed for leaders of organizations and examiners of quality systems, anyone involved in continuous improvement initiatives can benefit from a detailed review of links among the various sub-systems that affect an organization’s performance. This knowledge can be important in achieving results that are synergistic across the organization and avoiding unintended consequences of changes made in a specific focus areas.  

Leaders must formulate and articulate strategy, engage and retain customers, identify and implement actionable metrics, motivate and engage their workforce, and continuously build and improve their processes to achieve superior business results. Because they directly affect the overall business results, these six process-oriented dimensions of an organization’s performance comprise the bulk of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. It is through synergistic improvements throughout these dimensions that leaders can achieve sustainable performance results.

After building a compelling business case for an integrated management system and application of the performance excellence criteria, the authors focus on the seven categories of the Baldrige criteria, each in one own chapter.

The book is written as a reference text with a lot of tables, charts and detailed explanations. It is not intended to be used for light reading, but as a comprehensive resource for planning, implementing and evaluating an integrated performance management system. It is meant to be used and re-used many times to prepare a Baldrige award application or examine the organization’s performance against specific criteria. At times, the author’s commentary seems to be repetitive and verbose. However, the overall content is rich with many insightful suggestions. 

This handbook is a good resource for leaders and quality system examiners to develop a solid understanding of the MBNQA performance excellence criteria.

Naveen Agarwal
Jacksonville, FL

Cracking the Case of ISO 9001:2015 for Manufacturing

Charles A. Cianfrani and John E. (Jack) West, ASQ Quality Press, 2017, 298 pp., $17 member, $29 list (third edition, book)

Cracking the Case of ISO 9001:2015 for Service

Charles A. Cianfrani and John E. (Jack) West, ASQ Quality Press, 2017, 296 pp., $17 member, $29 list (third edition, book)

These books are intended to help auditors understand ISO 9001:2015 and successfully implement and perform audits using the standard.

There are two pocket books in this set, which are almost identical except one is geared toward organizations in the service industry and the other is focused on the manufacturing industry. The organization of the two books is identical, but slightly differs in chapter four in which one provides explanations relevant to the service industry and the other the manufacturing industry. 

The books try to explain why ISO 9001:2015 is necessary in an organization. In addition, they provide useful tips pertaining to implementation aspects and conformity with the requirements.

The books are organized into five main chapters. The first chapter starts by answering the question, "Why has ISO 9001 become the world’s most used standard?" The second chapter lists the key differences between the ISO 9001:2015 standard and previous versions.

This chapter addresses several matters such as the actions needed to address risks and opportunities, the concept of organizational knowledge, and the difference between documented information and records.

The third chapter addresses the principles and key concepts of the standard. There is a useful discussion on attaining customer focus and measuring satisfaction. This is followed by a discussion on process management and the systems approach to management.

The section on the alignment of quality objectives, process measurement and communications is profound and should help the implementers stay focused on this critical aspect.

The fourth chapter is perhaps the most important one. It discusses every section and requirement of the standard with examples where appropriate.

In the fifth chapter, several tools used by quality engineers, quality managers and other quality professionals are presented. These include flowcharts, process maps, Gantt charts, Pareto charts and cause-and-effect diagrams for example.

These books are must-haves for any quality professional, especially those involved in the implementation and auditing of ISO 9001:2015. These are valuable resources for everyone preparing to take ASQ certification exams.

Rangarajan Parthasarathy
Harvard, IL

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