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 improvement.

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 company.

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 this truth.

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.

Learning Partnerships

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.

Seeing Systems

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.