Walking the Invisible Gemba: Discover the Hidden Link Between Communication and Quality

Sam Yankelevitch, Wavecloud Corp., 2018, 178 pp., $15.41 list (book).

The book is written in the first person, as though the author is having a conversation with the reader, and begins with an introduction by Eric Hayler, past chair of the ASQ Board of Directors. Instead of chapters, the book is divided into 10 group training sessions, complete with supportive notes and references, which can be read in any order.

“The real place” is used to refer to the gemba. Exploration of real places and real activities draws forward insights about many workplace activities and environments delivering no or low value to goals targeted during improvement or the desire for positive quality outcomes.

The conversations in the book prompt thinking and, possibly, decision making that could result in changes and improvements. Communication is confirmed as a priority for everyone working for event control­­—building successes, facilitating leadership options resulting in successes, and bringing forward necessary recovery from negative situations. Delivering results and attaining goals is the priority.

The book is thought provoking, and the sessions provide insights and ideas that may influence actions for quality as process, and result as goals are sought and results delivered.

Leaders in the quality field will be interested in the book’s thought-provoking ideas. It is a resource for starting discussions and further examining key ideas related to delivering results as waste is eliminated and results build.

Gerald R. Brong,
Ellensburg, WA

Adaptive Space: How GM and Other Companies Are Positively Disrupting Themselves and Transforming Into Agile Organizations

Michael J. Arena, McGraw-Hill Education, 2018, 288 pp., $18.30 (book).

The book applies the concept of adaptive space to help organizations learn how to make innovation and adaptation a new way of doing business. Instead of highlighting acute methods driven by crisis management, the author digs deeper into more fundamental, longer-lasting strategies designed to help organizations survive and thrive in a marketplace that is continuously and rapidly changing.

Synopses of organizations that failed to adapt—including Blockbuster, Kodak, Motorola, JC Penney, Sears and Office Depot—are provided, as well as how organizations such as General Motors (GM), IBM and Amazon have learned to enable agility and aggressively position themselves for inevitable disruption.

Organizations are encouraged to develop the freedom for ideas to flow into and throughout the organization. The author details how to facilitate connections to enable information flow for the discovery, development, diffusion and disruption necessary for innovation and adaptation, and explains the principles necessary for opening adaptive space in any organization. The challenge of adaptive space is enabling organizations to be positively disruptive so they can control their own destiny before someone or something else does.

The author’s ideas confront the natural tendency to move toward safety and predictability, and become more insular. This builds bureaucratic structures that reduce risk and uncertainty, and leads to entrenching the status quo. The author relishes the challenge of helping organizations learn how to be agile in the face of these overwhelming affinities and build a new culture to survive market disrupters.

This refreshing new approach to organizational dynamics eschews the typical management consultant psychobabble with solid pragmatic ideas that can help any organization prepare for and survive external disruptive variables.

Dale Farris,
Groves, TX

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