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Departments: SPC for the Real World

Davis Balestracci

A Quality Professional's Holiday Wish List

Celebrate the coming holiday season with these quality gifts.


Almost everyone celebrates a manifestation of the winter solstice, which inevitably includes gift exchanging. Here are my choices that run the gamut from technical to personal growth.

Mindwalk --This DVD is a "systems thinking" version of My Dinner With Andre.

Tampopo --A "spaghetti western" with a Japanese version of Clint Eastwood taking a noodle-soup chef on a quality journey. Funny and insightful DVD.

Process Quality Control: Troubleshooting and Interpretation of Data, Fourth Edition, by Ellis R. Ott, Edward G. Schilling and Dean V. Neubauer (ASQ Quality Press, 2005, ISBN 0873896556).

Handbook for Improvement, Third Edition (Executive Learning Inc.). For people in health care, this is an outstanding summary of statistical and nonstatistical tools. Order through www.elinc.com.

Statistical Methods, Eighth Edition, by George W. Snedecor and William G. Cochran (Blackwell Publishing Professional, 1989, ISBN 0813815614). My personal favorite statistical resource.

The Improvement Guide, by Gerald J. Langley, Kevin M. Nolan, Thomas W. Nolan, Clifford L. Norman and Lloyd P. Provost (Jossey-Bass, 1996, ISBN 0787902578). A handbook that belongs in every quality professional's library. The 70 categories of waste are eye-opening.

Quality Improvement Through Planned Experimentation, Second Edition, by Ronald Moen, Thomas W. Nolan and Lloyd P. Provost (McGraw-Hill, 1999, ISBN 0079137814).

Firing on All Cylinders ( TCG Press, 1992, ISBN 0968467520), The Leader's Digest (TCG Press, 2003, ISBN 0968467512); and Growing the Distance (TCG Press, 2005, ISBN 0968467539), all by Jim Clemmer (www.clemmer.net) , who has been my "stealth" mentor for more than 10 years.

Fourth Generation Management, by Brian L. Joiner and Sue Reynard (McGraw-Hill, 1994, ISBN 0070327157).

The Deming Dimension, by Henry R. Neave (SPC Press Inc., 1990, ISBN 0945320361). One of my all-time favorites. Neave's book is a case where the "biblical concordance" (of Deming's thinking) is far better than the original. See www.spcpress.com.

Journey to the Emerald City, by Roger Connors and Tom Smith (Prentice Hall Press, 1999, ISBN 0735200521). What I consider to be the best and most practical model to deal with everyday issues about transformation.

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, by John G. Miller (Putnam Publishing Group, 2004, ISBN 0399152334) and Flipping the Switch, by John G. Miller (Putnam Publishing Group, 2005, ISBN 0399152954). Each of these books can easily be read in an hour… and you'll want to give them to everybody! Miller's technique for recognizing and dealing with "victim behavior" is profoundly simple, and I have used it time and time again to defuse tense situations with dysfunctional individuals.

The Tao of Power, by R. L. Wing (Broadway, 1986, ISBN 0385196377).

The Tao of Leadership, by John Heider (Humanics Publishing Group, 1986, ISBN 0893340790).

Real Power: Business Lessons From the Tao te Chin g, by James A. Autry and Stephen Mitchell (Riverhead Books, 1999, ISBN 157322720X).

The Tao te Ching is a 2,500-year-old Chinese book. Its 81 paragraphs of intense wisdom are profound. Wing's very good translation has a comment after every paragraph applying it to a business environment. Heider's loose simultaneous translation/commentary on leadership qualities is nothing short of outstanding. Autry, who is a former Fortune 500 executive who speaks very effectively about leadership, prefers the more poetic Stephen Mitchell translation.

The Enneagram--for hard-core self-development junkies (me included). This ancient system for personal growth is summarized quite beautifully on www.enneagramcentral.com. Before you even try to "type" yourself, read the modules about "THREEs" (well over half of the CEOs in the United States; most management motivational/leadership literature is "written by THREEs for THREEs") and SIXes (most middle management; Dilbert's boss is the archetype).

The Enneagram Movie & Video Guide, Second Edition by Thomas Condon (Metamorphous Press, 1999, ISBN 1555521002). A very entertaining read, using selected movies and their characters to understand the Enneagram's nine styles of behaviors. My daughter once gave this to me as a Christmas gift… then stole it back!


Best wishes for a peaceful, healthy 2007.

About the author
Davis Balestracci is a member of the American Society for Quality and past chair of its statistics division. Visit his Web site at www.dbharmony.com.