ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - August 2002


 In This Issue...
People and Excellence— People Aspects of the Baldrige Criteria

Using Baldrige to Lead Change

Where Have We Been? Where Are We Going?

Book Nook

From Our Perspective

What’s Up?


  Return to NFC Index

Book Nook

Total Quality Management: Strategies and Techniques Proven at Today’s Most Successful Companies, Second Edition
by Stephen George and Arnold Weimerskirch
John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY
ISBN 0-471-19174-4
Hardcover, 243 pages
Part of “The Portable MBA Series”

Given today’s economy, when was the last time you visited another company and benchmarked its processes? Have you ever been able to justify attending one of those conferences where the most recent Baldrige winners share their “secrets” of world-class total quality management? Does your budget go “tilt” at the price of the benchmarking reports from Best Practices, LLC? If you want to learn more about total quality management and what it looks like in practice, but have a limited budget, then this month’s book is for you.

Recent books about the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award seem to have focused on interpreting the criteria and simplifying the application process, not on sharing the strategies, tactics, and processes of the companies judged best in class. One of the few that benchmarks the best of the best is four years old and is the second edition of a book originally published in 1994. I approached the book as a skeptic. Would it seem horribly dated, or would its content hold up over the years? The answer is that this highly readable book remains as valid now as when it was first published. Admittedly, some of the companies used as models of excellence have experienced changes that have hurt their status as world class. Yet, the lessons that can be learned from the 51 companies discussed in this book (including 22 Baldrige Award winners) continue to be instructive. It is as Suzanne Beecher of recently wrote: “In the case of business books the rule is, ‘Don’t judge a book by when it was published.’”

The authors of Total Quality Management (the former chairman of the Baldrige panel of judges and a consultant who has worked with several Baldrige winners) use the Baldrige criteria as the backbone of what they call the “new business management model.” Each of the seven sections of the criteria is the focus of at least one chapter; and each chapter has detailed information on at least three “models of excellence” (one manufacturing company, one service company, and one small business).

For someone just learning about total quality or looking for a refresher course, the book provides a thorough grounding without getting too technical. Although definitely targeted at senior leadership, there is plenty of “take away” for people seeking to initiate change from other levels of an organization.

I especially liked the no punches pulled approach taken by the authors. They take care to point out methods that are destined for failure and why such approaches are ultimately unsuccessful. Special warnings are given to those who would attempt to copy the good ideas described without first changing their old management model, “The new model requires systems thinking, which means you must understand all the elements in your company—and how changes in one affect the others—to systematically improve it.”

My only disappointment with the book lies in its lack of a bibliography. Readers who want to learn more about specific aspects of total quality will need to go elsewhere.

CHRISTINE ROBINSON has more than 25 years of leadership experience in quality systems for the process industries. She has a master’s degree in quality, values, and leadership from Marian College. An avid reader, she spends a significant amount of her time with her nose in books and her body at the library.

Book Ratings:

***** = Pick it up today
  **** = Overnight it
*** = Snail mail it
** = At a library?

        * = Never mind

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