The ASQ CSSBB Study Guide

Mark Allen Durivage and Shawn Findlater, ASQ Quality Press, 2017, 282 pp., $30 member, $50 list (book).

This study guide is for those taking the ASQ-certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB) exam. The guide covers the areas on the test. It provides the perspective that engineering and management can go together and their principles are equally useful to ensure success in an enterprise from a business perspective.

This book also offers Six Sigma Black Belt leadership and technical tools essential to develop sustainable projects from a cost, statistical and project management perspective.

This book is recommended for engineers and technical personnel in management positions, as well as for entry-level personnel. One minor critique is that

It would have been great if the guide provided more visuals that directly reference project management and continuous improvement tools proven to be effective from an industrial perspective. The author described some of these, but visuals would have completed the message for those new to the topic. 

Robert Guzman
Morehead City, NC

Cause Analysis Manual: Incident Investigation Method and Techniques

Fred Forck and Kristen Noakes-Frye, editor, Rothstein Publishing, 2016, 342 pp., $109.99 (book).

This is the most complete general book on investigating incidents and root causes. The approach focuses on a success-based outcome. It insists on finding root causes and contributing factors no matter where they lie. Providing practical, cost effective and efficient recommendations for a path forward in the report is mandatory. The overall process in investigating major incidents or minor inefficiencies is:

  • Pinpoint the problem.
  • Find the problem's enabling factors.
  • Develop a corrective action plan.
  • Write investigation reports for the decision makers.

The book begins with a survey of concepts, objectives, methods and techniques for cause analysis. Each step is dissected and explained with multiple examples, practical tools and advice. The whys, why-nots, hows and what to use when are explained.

As expected, many basic quality tools are presented, but some are amplified with additional capabilities such as making specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART) objectives into SMARTER (evaluate and readjust) ones, or melding several basic tools together such as making a "Why Factor Staircase" from five whys and a fishbone diagram.

Several sample scenarios are continued throughout the coverage to illustrate the entire technique. Context reinforces the fundamentals being explained. To make easier understanding templates, illustrations, checklists and forms are included, which enable you to follow the recommended procedures and processes in the quest for causal information.

Each chapter ends with questions for understanding and discussion, references and suggested future reading. An excellent glossary and index complete the book. If you have issues finding out what really happened, why something happened or continues to happen, you must read this book and take advantage of Forck’s expertise.

Marc A. Feldman

The Toyota Engagement Equation: How to Understand and Implement Continuous Improvement Thinking in Any Organization

Tracey Richardson and Ernie Richardson, McGraw-Hill Education, 2017, 272 pp., $32 (book).

The authors of this book have offered a firsthand report of what they learned as employees at Toyota. The book is a thought-provoking exploration of a real operation. It is not a statistical report of compliance measuring, the use of statistical reporting systems or advanced systems of standards in the automotive industry. It is a report of how the culture and procedures delivering contentious improvement work.

Ernie and Tracey Richardson have delivered an idea-generating resource applicable in many settings. The book shares substance and spirit of what they learned from their experiences in the Toyota environment. It is an indexed reference to an operation delivering successes, measurable outcomes and results.

The Richardsons have offered a guide to the culture and thinking behind Toyota’s success. In the book, the authors speak from firsthand experiences, emotional experiences and their heart as employees who worked in the Kentucky factory during the time the organization first introduced the people-first approach in the United States. The strategies from Kentucky were successfully transferred to other Toyota work sites.

The authors, two Americans, were trained by Japanese mentors, and now they present methods for taking Toyota's success forward to other organizations. Throughout the book, you will see how Toyota developed this effective approach into an overall management system and how it may be applied to other operations. The book is a unique firsthand report to building a business with a people-based thinking system. Offered is an interesting and thought-provoking read that should result in discussions, further explorations and the development of strategies that may be successfully implemented delivering goal-focused outcomes and confirmable results. In a group or team setting, the book may be a resource sparking discussion, creative thinking and actions that could deliver goal-specific confirmable results. The book closes with Richardson’s reflections on how the thinking behind Toyota’s culture became part of his and Tracey’s life.

Jerry Brong
Ellensburg, WA

Toyota Kata Culture: Building Organizational Capability and Mindset Through Kata Coaching

Mike Rother and Gerd Aulinger, McGraw-Hill, 2017, 176 pp., $60 (book).

This book gives a detailed and in-depth look at how to implement structured, standardized and interconnected communication methods for integrating continuous improvement into the daily routine throughout an organization—from frontline workers to executives. The book is divided into six sections that progressively build on one another and provide essential details and diagrams that make the content very easy to understand.

The first section provides an overview of the entire kata system, including: coach-learner relationships, scientific thinking, skill acquisition, storyboards and coaching kata cards with five standard questions.

The second section on planning, covers setting direction, grasping the current condition and establishing the next target condition. This section walks through the setting of organizational goals and how those specific goals are shared throughout the varying organization levels. This process creates interconnected goals at each level, which are aligned with the objectives of the entire organization.

The third and fourth sections are about the execution process and extending it to the top levels of the organization. The focus of these routines is to enhance the learner’s ability to solve problems through structured, scientific problem solving with the guidance of a coach. This process starts on the frontline and repeats up through every management level following the same structured routine that uses visual management techniques to facilitate communication.

The fifth section expands on the previous concepts to include integrating with other functions in the organization—how to implement standardized routines to seek out and help others who may not be directly involved with your work team or value stream, but whose success in achieving the next target condition may depend on resources, input or the influence of each other.

The last section encourages the reader to use the structure provided in the book, but to modify and implement it in a way that best suits his or her organization. This section also provides standardized templates, questions and other resources to help get started.

My favorite part of this book is how the information is provided in a story-like format with fictional characters working together in their organization. The authors do an excellent job of demonstrating the exact dialogue and tool application so the reader can see what kata looks like in action.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to implement shared goal setting and standardized coaching routines in their organization to drive long term continuous improvement and ongoing systematic employee development.

Christopher Spranger
Wisconsin Rapids, WI

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