2018

FOOTNOTES

The Nexus Framework for Scaling Scrum: Continuously Delivering an Integrated Product With Multiple Scrum Teams

Kurt Bittner, Patricia Kong and Dave West, Addison-Wesley Professional, 2017, 176 pp., $34.99 list (book).

The book is intended for IT professionals who work on teams and have working knowledge of scrum methods. Traditionally, scrum is intended for use by one team. The authors take it to the next level by creating a nexus framework that allows three to nine teams to work on complex software projects at the same time.

Chapter one builds on the foundation of explaining Agile software development as a given entity in IT. Taking scrum to scale requires an additional framework called an exoskeleton for multiple complex operations and integration of the teams. The authors call this process nexus.

The authors go into further detail about how to form a nexus group and run a sprint. A sprint is a boxed timeframe of 30 days or less that helps keep teams focused on the short term while working back-to-back sprints to deliver the longer-term product. Using goals, actors, inputs and deliverables, and sizing product backlog items as tools, there is a significant amount of communication among team members. A daily rhythm is defined, which generates transparency through daily scrums and daily nexus coordination. Retrospectives are used as a standard tool and incorporate lessons learned and best practices to quickly improve the process under review.

The rest of the book covers evolving teams that become healthy over time by balancing the workload such as manufacturing. There is guidance on how to handle emergencies created by different cadences in teams and venture capitalists’ intrusion, and using “scrumbling” to step back and evaluate. The true test is how teams react to a crisis.

In the overall final retrospective, the five values of scrum are emphasized: commitment, focus, openness, respect and courage. Three additional ones have been added: have fun, enjoy working together and keep your sense of humor.

Bill Baker
Santa Fe, NM


Service Systems Engineering and Management

A. Ravi Ravindran, Paul M. Griffin and Vittaldas V. Prabhu, CRC Press, 2018, 618 pp., $129.95 list (book).

This book is a comprehensive retrospective on quantitative methods applied in the design and control of service systems. It is mostly aimed at the industrial engineering community, but economists, operations researchers and quality engineers also will find it interesting.

The chapters on forecasting demand for services, evaluating service systems, financial engineering and revenue management are examples of topics of interest to the wider audience listed above.

The text is clear, the examples are effective and the level of information is adequate as an introduction to readers with basic background in math and statistics. The availability of exercises makes the text a good choice for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses.

What is missing is some reference to big data analytics, supervised models and unsupervised predictive algorithms. In addition, the book does not refer to important statistical methods such as the design of experiments or multivariate process control. So, even though the book is quantitative in focus, it does not provide coverage of data-driven methods. The authors should have at least mentioned these in the various chapter summaries. Future editions of this comprehensive textbook could do that.

Ron S. Kenett
Raanana, Israel


The Lean Strategy: Using Lean to Create Competitive Advantage, Unleash Innovation and Deliver Sustainable Growth

Michael Balle, Daniel Jones, Jacques Chaize and Orest Fiume, McGraw Hill Education, 2017, 304 pp., $35 list (book).

This is an excellent book showing the approach to using lean as a foundation for organizational improvements in lieu of other methods. The authors present their principle well.

The book provides examples from actual organizations and helpful implementation guidelines for not just how to execute lean strategy, but also how to prepare for the implementation. It further recognizes that improvement initiatives fail due to inadequately preparing an organization for a successful transition.

One of the top key principles presented in this strategy is developing organizational learning strategies to leverage all levels of the organization to identify and reduce or eliminate waste. The authors give an excellent guide on how to establish sustainable learning programs to set up the transition and sustain of the shift and strategy for success.

After the authors show best practices and real-world examples of how to lead an organization into a lean strategy approach to improvement, they continue to show the impact of how real organizations have sustained lean improvements, and continue to drive growth and reduce waste. Step-by-step guidelines will prepare organizations for continued success.

Conor Leahy
San Diego


The Perils of Un-Coordinated Healthcare: A Strategic Approach Toward Eliminating Preventable Harm

Patricia W. Morrill, Routledge, 2017, 100 pp., $54.95 list (book).

The topic of eliminating preventable medical errors made by staffs working in medical institutions—whether they are large hospitals or small clinics—has been in news for many years but recently has gained more interest.

This book focuses first on the details of a real-life case of preventable death, followed by the introduction of a 10-step model. The model, if followed, could lead to the improvement of healthcare processes and consequently, reduction and ultimately elimination of preventable medical harms.

The book begins with a detailed description of the author’s tragic personal journey, starting with her mother’s first visit to an orthopedist to the day her mother passed away.

The author continues by introducing probing questions related to the events in her mother’s case, focusing on the uncoordinated care and its impact on patients and their families.

Each discussion is followed by a series of recommended research topics that provide useful and expanded information on the topic under discussion. This helps healthcare professionals assess processes that effect their patients.

Additional case studies—along with the author’s personal observations—lead to recognizing of the importance of the major contributors to preventable errors: workplace environment, staffing models and safety culture.

The second part of the book covers the importance of the coaching role executives must play in leading change and process improvements.

In this part, the author introduces the 10-step process improvement strategy deployment model that is based on the plan-do-check-act method. Recommended research topics are included for each of the 10 improvement steps.

The last section of the book includes guidelines for each department in a medical institution on using the improvement strategy through the case study’s seven patient scenarios: inpatient, physician office visits, rehab, emergency, surgery, nutrition and financial services/patient accounts.

This book provides healthcare practitioners and the individuals managing various medical institutions with a refreshing approach and powerful tools they can use to provide more reliable and accurate healthcare services to patients.

Herzl Marouni
Houston


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