Lean Tactics for Architects, Engineers, and IPD Contractors

J. T. Brown, ASQ Quality Press, 2018, 204 pp., $36 member, $60 list (book).

Offered as a resource for use in the improvement of planning for, managing operations and delivering results this book is a how-to manual. The emphasis is on profitability of architectural and engineering firms, but the concepts offered can be broadly used in design, manufacturing and service organizations.

The reference to integrated project delivery (IPD) contractors in the title may cause a little confusion. Not all potential buyers of the book and readers will know what IPD contractors are.

Users should familiarize themselves with the table of contents and the book’s layout for prompt access to sections of interest. The book can be used as a study guide and learning resource as lean tactics are considered, or as a reference with how-to information. The book is complied of 23 chapters and appendixes. The book’s detailed section and topic headings and comprehensive index help make it a resource for ideas and insights into an ongoing operation, as well as the planning phase of a project.

The book is a recommended resource for people implementing the planning phase of a project, as well as those involved in implementing a project.

The content of the book has high utility. It is formatted as a model with ideas that can be considered and possibly used in other manuals and procedure guides.

This is a recommended resource for engineers, contractors and architects, and is a resource with utility in many other fields responsible for delivering quality. The book can be used by practitioners in the field as well as people in a classroom.

Jerry Brong
Ellensburg, WA

Root Cause Data Collection: Using the Arduino

Paul Bradt and David Bradt, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017, 146 pp., $ 27.99 (book).

This is a short self-published book that describes some basic tools to measure and capture data to identify where product failures or defects may have occurred. It uses a simple programmable, prefabricated electronics board to automate some of the tasks in finding likely root causes for those failures. All the information presented is practical and intended to ensure any trends revealed are real and not just normal variation so that the true cause or causes are revealed.

The authors offer projects to automate data collection and demonstrate the use of the electronics. These projects are prototypes and not finished assemblies for permanent installation. With appropriate enclosures, however they could be used for simple systems. Hardware recommendations, assembly pictures, schematics and programming code to measure temperature, pressure, light and count are provided. Multiple reference links are suggested.

A cleverly chosen example from the authors’ experience is followed from start to finish with an emphasis on being simple and practical to demonstrate the concepts. The authors advise using a schedule to ensure the evidence gathering phase is given enough time or, conversely, doesn’t drag on unnecessarily.

To make the process as flexible as possible, the authors supply a number of appendixes. A serviceable bibliography completes the coverage. If you want to go a little further than simple manual counting and recordkeeping for root cause determinations, this may be the starter book you’re looking for.

Marc A. Feldman

Improving Agile Retrospectives: Helping Teams Become More Efficient

Marc Loeffler, Addison-Wesley Professional, 2018, 272 pp., $34.99 (book).

The author was a traditional project manager at Volkswagen and Siemens, but in 2006, he was introduced to agile principles and methods, which he has adopted. His focus is on helping teams use agile tools like Scrum and XP to overcome dysfunctional behaviors. His specialty, covered in this book, is running “retrospectives” to improve a team’s future performance.

The book consists of 11 chapters. The first four chapters address defining retrospectives, planning retrospectives, your first project and the facilitator role.

The next five chapters break out the various types of retrospectives, including metaphors to the retrospective, and systemic, solution-focused, distributed and alternate retrospectives.

The last two chapters cover problems, pitfalls and change management to assist the transformation to the new and improved process. Practical tips are inserted throughout, and each chapter ends with a convenient summary to help readers.

To highlight the unique value added, there are several theme-based role-playing scenarios for retrospectives beginning in chapter five which are designed to hold the readers interest when going through the process.

Retrospectives seem to be especially suitable for software teams that often have short-term, recurring deadlines and also can include “distributed teams” that work from home or have global team members. Retrospectives can be done often, such as bi-weekly or monthly, as needed.

This book is good for anyone involved in project management and facilitation of problem solving involving teams and teamwork. There are many tips and examples to assist you in conducting effective retrospectives for any change.

Bill Baker
Santa Fe, NM

Introduction to Lean Supply Chain and Logistics: Participant Workbook

Collin McLoughlin and Paul Myerson, Productivity Press, 2010, 76 pp., $399 (full training package).

The participant’s workbook is part of a lean supply chain and logistics training package.  It is a useful tool for training and developing lean supply chain and logistics experts in a business. Using the workbook is not sufficient by itself. The tool helps associates in a business to understand the metrics required, learn about the eight types of waste and how a business can lead the integration process for operations to optimize suppliers, warehousing and distribution.

By bringing a cross-functional group into training, members form a cooperating team to create a responsive system that addresses the complex needs across the supply chain.  Participants will understand the supply chain system’s constraints and challenges to ensure each member in the supply chain is in a win-win situation for the system to have maximum flow. The associates in training learn the difference between a push versus a pull workflow environment.

The workbook—coupled with training—can objectively define value-added and nonvalue-added operations across the supply chain. With a trained cross-functional staff that understands why and when change is needed, reforming the supply chain system will lead to successful transformations. The net result will be continuous improvement for a more effective and efficient system that satisfies customers and increases profitability, keeping up with technological advancement.

All 66 slides in the workbook contain suggestions, tips and questions to stimulate reflection on the technical information, enabling practical application of the knowledge. A business striving to improve its supply chain operations will need a lean expert with all the other components in this training package.

John Lanczycki
West Springfield, MA

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