Navigating the Minefield: A Practical KM Companion

Patricia Lee Eng and Paul J. Corney, ASQ Quality Press, 2017, 140 pp., $21 member, $35 list (book)

This is a fascinating read illustrating innovative approaches to cost savings and efficiencies from a knowledge sharing sense. The book is based on interviews and structured conversations with experts and leaders, giving readers a sense of involvement through a first-person narrative. The authors emphasize strategies for people using their knowledge, including knowledge they develop or gain from others, to optimize operations.

Chapter two offers tasks for surveying the minefield that can bring problems, reduction in successes and even failures to an organization. For many, this will be a how-to-do handbook for traveling forward and reaching goals as progress continues through the minefield.

Chapter three presents the idea of developing a 15 to 30 second “elevator speech” to explain why your knowledge management initiative is valuable to your operations and programs. The speech tells others the “why” of what you are doing and helps you put in focus your initiatives.

Examples of knowledge management and successful decision making are presented from organizations including Airbus, ARUP Laboratories, Cadbury Schweppes, Hewlett Packard, International Center for Tropical Agriculture, Lloyds Register Marine, NASA, U.K. National Health Service Digital and the U.S. Army. These examples are formulated from interviews with personnel in these organizations.

The 89 pages of text in the book are supported by a 12-page appendix that includes exploration of how the authors came to write the book. An 11-page glossary is a useful reference while reading the book and as communication about managing knowledge, making decisions and building successes is explored.

I recommend this book for people leading and influencing quality programs. It prompts thinking and discussion, and offers insights to tactics that can improve results through effective use of knowledge, insights and communication with others.

Jerry Brong
Ellensburg, WA

Musings on Internal Quality Audits: Having a Greater Impact 

Duke Okes, ASQ Quality Press, 2017, 130 pp., $14 member, $24 list (book)

Audits are either performed in-process or after the project or task is completed. They are designed to identify errors or weaknesses in the process and to detect problems that might cause an unacceptable outcome.

This book is a compiled set of training materials that provide robust methods for performing an audit after covering basic auditing principles and methods. It gives new perspectives on the auditing process. Also included are appendixes with audit scenarios, and audit planning and risk management auditing questions.

Unique to this text is the middle section which provides wonderful context to aspects of auditing (including a section on governance) that is not covered in other books. As a statistician, the inclusion of a discussion of analytics and the examination of risk is important. This is included later in the appendixes that list important questions to ask when planning an audit or evaluating an audit. There are a lot of good examples listed in the first appendix, and I wish the book was substantially longer so that these examples could be used to illustrate applications of the techniques discussed in section one.

The last chapter on audits in the future is interesting but could be an expanded section examining whether reliance on digital rather than human monitoring and analysis of processes is changing auditing. For a current perspective on auditing in a nutshell, this is an excellent book.

I. Elaine Allen
San Francisco, CA

Essentials of Engineering Leadership and Innovation

Pamela McCauley, CRC Press, 2016, 234 pp., $79.95 list (book)

This book provides a great perspective on leadership in a profession that is typically represented by highly technical individuals. Engineers, are educated in the mastering of sciences and how it could be used to benefit nature and humankind. However, engineers are not typically identified with leadership roles. Often, these roles are filled by other professions with a focus on personnel and business management.

This book projects leadership in engineering to another level by adding those principles of project management, human resources, communication and ethics for effective leadership. It provides the perspective that engineering and management can go together, and its principles are equally useful to ensure success in an enterprise from a business perspective.

What I like the most about the book is how the engineering mindset always shows for the effective leader by means of goals achievement and continuous improvement against paradigms.

This book is recommended for engineers and technical personnel in management positions, as well as for entry-level personnel. The included teachings are useful for every level in an organization where internal and external customers are the key for success. It would have been great to have more visuals that directly reference project management and continuous improvement tools proven to be effective from an industrial phsychology perspective. The author describes some of these, but visuals would have completed the message for those at the leadership entry level.

Robert Guzman
Morehead City, NC

The Supply Chain Revolution: Innovative Sourcing and Logistics for a Fiercely Competitive World

Suman Sarkar, Amacom, 2017, 240 pp., $39.95 list (book)

This book guides organizations in pursuing a supply chain strategy through the implementation of four visions. These visions are needed for a business to sustain its competitive advantage and survival. The author explains and provides examples of successes and failures detailing how organizations can use their supply chain and sourcing to increase revenue, lower business risk, improve profitability and achieve excellence.

Strategically, the supply chain is a chain of resources used to support a product in the marketplace for target customers. This vision helps improve margins and product sales. Functionally, the supply chain procures materials and converts them into saleable products. This vision focuses on lowering costs across the supply chain. The logistics-transportation vision is the physical path of a product. It embraces factories, warehouses, sales offices, trucks and ships, and distribution centers. Here the focus is lowering logistical costs. The integrated supply chain must have a common information base and mechanics in place to share this information among all participants. The objective goal for this vision is to keep information processing costs low.

This book shows that pursuing a supply chain strategy provides a great opportunity for a sustainable competitive advantage as it encompasses all logistics activities, customer-supplier partnerships, new product development and introduction, inventory management and facilities.

The author points out that it is better to rely on the operational excellence across the supply chain that provides value to the customers than to rely only on cost-cutting. Chief executives and senior executive leaders must be proactive rather than reactive with strategies to capitalize on the supply chain threats and opportunities.

The author notes collaborative relationships should focus on reducing the uncertainty in operating environments. In the future, supply chain business processes will need continuous improvements to achieve and sustain world-class efficient performance status.

John J. Lanczycki, Jr.
West Springfield, MA

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