by Theodore B. Kinni
Profit From Experience
by Gil Amelio and William Simon
NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CEO and chairman Gil Amelio's career was built on
a series of successful turnarounds (a word, he says, he thoroughly dislikes).
The most impressive of these is the three-year effort that took National
from its worst annual loss in 30 years to the highest earnings in its history.
This book describes Amelio's version of these efforts, using a methodology
that he calls Transformation Management.
Much of Transformation Management is routine-a worthy vision, ambitious
long-term goals, customer focus, teamwork and empowerment-but the author
adds plenty of practical guidelines in each area. More interesting is Amelio's
establishment and measurement of critical business issues. National uses
six CBIs: the first four-organizational excellence, operational excellence,
return on R&D investment, and strategic positioning-are focused on the
fifth, creating customer delight, which in turn supports the final CBI,
superior financial performance. CBIs also provide the basis for a companywide
system of performance measurement.
The real return on investment, however, comes during Amelio's extended discussion
of corporate financial analysis. He uses a series of measures, including
gross profits, break-even, profit on value-added and asset management. These
measures define success at National and provide an inside look at how a
senior executive can use financial criteria to analyze a company and drive
Profit From Experience (Van Nostrand Reinhold, $24.95) is low in
fluff and high on value. This is a well-written and unusually candid look
at the work of senior management and the internal workings of National Semiconductor.
The Great Transition
by James Martin
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY maven James Martin attempts nothing less than a corporate
guidebook to the Information Age, proposing an integrated set of seven "disciplines"
that he believes will yield the successful businesses of the future.
Enterprise Engineering is the name Martin assigns this work. Senior executives
are now "enterprise engineers," and the disciplines that comprise
their work are: continuous improvement, procedure redesign, value-chain
reinvention, enterprise redesign and strategic visioning. These five levels
of change methods are supported by two processes: information technology
development and human/cultural development.
Martin chooses a very restrictive definition for TQM. In this scheme of
corporate success, quality becomes little more than statistical analysis,
and the work of reinvention somehow stands outside, and above, TQM-even
though both depend on the same cornerstones: customer focus, employee involvement
and continuous improvement.
There is value in Martin's Enterprise Engineering. That value is not so
much in its separate components as it is in the integration of the techniques.
The critical lesson in The Great Transition (Amacom, $34.95) is the
realization that one or two improvement methods alone are simply not good
enough any longer.
Making the Grass Greener on Your Side
by Ken Melrose
LIKE MANY U.S. manufacturers in the early 1980s, The Toro Co. ran headlong
into disaster. Recession, weather and Japanese competition combined to push
the success-bloated company into its first loss since 1945. Ken Melrose,
now Toro's chairman and CEO, was instrumental in the company's recovery,
and this is his story.
Melrose uses an extended metaphor-growing and managing turf-to describe
the process of corporate growth. He begins with "preparing the soil,"
a value-based approach as advocated by Covey with his principle-centered
leadership and Greenleaf with his servant leadership. Stage II is "seed
not sod," a long-view approach to corporate growth that starts with
a vision. Stage III is "managing and maintaining the turf," and
Stage IV is "the harvest."
There is a lack of balance in this recounting, however. The focus throughout
Melrose's four-part process is people. The author spends full chapters on
establishing a growth culture, trust and service. In much shorter sections
and, it seems, almost as an afterthought, he recounts the hard edge of Toro's
recovery: TQM, innovative product development, restructuring, downsizing,
etc. Further, Toro's vision of itself as an "environmentally responsible"
company sometimes stretches the definition of the term. Does producing tools
that allow the more effective establishment and maintenance of a desert
golf course really qualify Toro as an environmentally responsible company?
CEO-written business books often yield a mixed harvest, and Making the
Grass Greener on Your Side (Berrett-Koehler, $24.95) is no exception.
Best intentions aside, this is mainly a public relations tract for Melrose's
The Basics of Benchmarking
by Robert Damelio
ANYONE who has plowed through the dozen or so full-size texts detailing
the practice of benchmarking will have come to one simple conclusion: There
just isn't all that much to say about this quality technique. It is a fairly
simple tool-fast to learn and easy to use. This slim paperback recognizes
More of a detailed outline than a book, The Basics of Benchmarking
moves quickly through its subject. In 28 quickly-read pages, it starts by
defining and relating key terms: benchmarking, process, practice, metric
and enabler. Then it quickly covers a short list of common questions: What
are best practices, codes of conduct, benchmarking consortium, etc.
The rest of the book focuses on action. Damelio forgoes endorsing a specific,
established process. Instead, he suggests the work of benchmarking naturally
falls into three areas: analysis, discovery and implementation. Analysis
is accomplished internally and results in a project plan, a team and a critical
look at your own process. Discovery has an outward focus and results in
a data-collection plan, a list of partners, actual findings, gap analysis,
final report and recommendations. And, finally, implementation captures
the improvement findings with implementation and recalibration plans. The
book ends with a very useful chapter devoted to the site visits.
Benchmarking is a subject that perfectly lends itself to this wonderfully
concise approach. Save time and money-begin with The Basics of Benchmarking
(Quality Resources, $6.95).
ISO 9000 for Executives
by Jack E. Small
(Lanchester Press, 190 pages, $25.95)
AN INFORMED executive guidebook. The author has directed more than 148
registration efforts within IBM. The book rightly identifies the standards
as a good basis for building customer satisfaction and urges executives
not to seek a certificate as "a final goal."
Managing Radical Change
by Jerome H. Want
(Wiley & Sons, 303 pages, $27.50)
WANT DESCRIBES FIVE different types of radical change and a model, The
Business Change Cycle, by which they can be understood. Fully half the book
is devoted to seven industry-specific chapters applying Want's model but
written by other authors.
TPM Team Guide
edited by Kunio Shirose
(Productivity Press, 155 pages, $25)
THIS PAPERBACK APPLIES the mechanics of teamworking to Total Productive
Maintenance programs. It covers presentations, audits, tools, etc. The book
is easy to read and simply presented, with plenty of illustrations. It makes
an effective front-line-level guidebook.
by Charles J. Fombrun
(Harvard Business School Press, 432 pages, $29.95)
A FASCINATING LOOK at the art and science of establishing and maintaining
corporate reputation, this hardcover includes plenty of cases. Fombrun also
describes the traits that comprise reputation and offers a rather sketchy
process for managing reputation.
Managing by Fact
by Tomozo Kobata
(Quality Resources/APO, 244 pages, $42.50)
SUBTITLED "The Results-Oriented Approach to Quality," this
is a translation of two Japanese works that first appeared in 1989 and 1990.
It describes Kobata's "5-gen" management, which focuses heavily
on fact-gathering and rigorous analysis as the correct basis for quality.
by Robert P. Mai
(Irwin, 174 pages, $29.95)
A COGENT ANALYSIS of the learning corporation. Mai adds a number of
briefly described case studies. But he ends up simply recommending team-based
suggestion programs-a service of his company, Maritz Performance Improvement.
by Barry Oshry
(Berrett-Koehler, 208 pages, $24.95)
A CREATIVE AND UNIQUE book that uses poetry, stories and illustrations
to pull readers "outside the box" in a successful attempt to help
them understand the dynamics of systems. The result is an attractive, alternative
view for building productive partnerships.
Organizational Transformation and Process Reengineering
by Johnson A. Edosomwan
(St. Lucie Press, 207 pages, $39.95)
A PRACTICAL reference to reengineering from a well-known quality pro. Plenty
of tools and techniques (many from TQM), guiding principles and a wide
selection of change models from which to choose, but virtually nothing on
the role of information technology.
Compensation for Teams
by Steven E. Gross
(Amacom, 259 pages, $65)
GROSS DESCRIBES team-based compensation as a combination of base pay,
merit raises, recognition awards and incentive bonuses. The book offers
a practical 13-step process for designing and implementing a customized
team pay plan.