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 Book Reviews


The Project Manager's Partner

by Michael Greer

Project management, a discipline that was once practiced by a relatively select number of professionals, represents a series of skills that are well-suited to today's fast-changing environment. Accordingly, managers in all areas and industries should be able to understand and use project management techniques.

In response to that need, Michael Greer -- under the auspices of the Project Management Institute -- has created this highly practical and accessible workbook for general managers. He offers a concise overview of the field, a five-phase project process and, most usefully, an explanation of the specific tools and techniques of project management organized into a time line based on need.

The five-phase process is general enough to apply to any project. Its steps are: determine need and feasibility; create the project plan; create the specifications for the project's goals (or deliverables); create the deliverables; and test and implement the deliverables.

Nearly half of this 8 1/2" x 11" paperback is devoted to "action items," the tools needed to complete the project process. Each is presented in a standardized format that includes a description, the desired output, background information, step-by-step guidelines for use and tips for using the tool to its fullest potential.

The Project Manager's Partner (HRD Press, $39.95) is essentially a reworking of the Project Management Institute's publication titled A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, which is available as a $10 paperback. Greer reorganizes the material into a more useful format for nonprofessionals, but whether it is worth the large cover price is debatable.

Large Group Interventions

by Barbara Benedict Bunker and Billie T. Alban

Every organizational change effort, quality-related or otherwise, requires the involvement, input and commitment of the entire work force. In this fine book, authors Bunker and Alban study large group interventions -- a technique designed to enlist and engage up to 2,000 people at the same time.

The primary advantage of using large group interventions to mobilize the work force is speed. Properly done, levels of input and buy-in that might take years to develop by trickle-down methods could be accomplished quickly by engaging the entire group at one time. Quality implementations, which usually require a long and arduous shift in culture and structure, can especially benefit.

The authors collect 12 different types of interventions and divide them into three categories: strategic vision sessions, such as Future Search; structural design sessions, such as those used to support reengineering efforts; and day-to-day work sessions, as typified by General Electric's famous Work-Out sessions. The process of each of the 12 large group interventions is described and then evaluated for their best uses. Case studies illustrate typical sessions.

Large Group Interventions  (Jossey-Bass, $28.95) is a valuable and unique addition to the business bookshelf and the literature of organizational change. It can be used as a starting point in the search for methods to create organization wide involvement and a one-stop reference to putting those techniques to work. As is true of only the best books, it is worth many times its cover price.

Mission Possible

by Ken Blanchard and Terry Waghorn

This latest Ken Blanchard collaboration was created with the help of KPMG consultant Terry Waghorn and writer Jim Ballard. It does not offer any truly original ideas, but it is stamped with the usual Blanchard trademark -- an appealing, easy-to-understand presentation.

Mission Possible blends the concepts of incremental and breakthrough performance improvement into a working strategy for corporate management. Every organization must have two groups of employees who are focused on two distinct time lines, say the authors. The first is the present, an 18-month period starting right now, and the second is the future, a period of time between 18 months and five years from now.

The present or "P" team needs to be continuously improving today's business. They concentrate on evolutionary change. At the same time, the future or "F" team must be anticipating and preparing for the radical changes of the future. This team concentrates on revolutionary change.

Both teams share a similar three-stage work process: envision, prepare and deliver. The P team creates a vision for serving current customers, maps the shortest route to that goal and implements the improvements. The F team creates a new vision for the industry, maps a path to that goal and begins building the competencies needed to profit in the new environment.

Voracious readers may find Mission Possible (McGraw-Hill, $22) a simple rehashing of familiar ideas. For the less studious, Blanchard's latest is a good introduction to a number of important concepts. Further, the well-organized synthesis, which pulls many concepts into a single world view of business, helps readers get often-disparate ideas working together.


Mistake-Proofing for Operators

by the Productivity Press Development Team

(Productivity Press, 80 pages, $25)

 Based on the book Zero Quality Control by Shigeo Shingo, this slim paperback explains the basics of ZQC and poka-yoke solutions, and illustrates them with many application examples. The presentation is extraordinarily reader-friendly and accessible to all levels of employees.

 International Standards Desk Reference

by Amy Zuckerman

(AMACOM Books, 324 pages, $35)

 Zuckerman explains the genesis and organizational structures of the major organizations in this first-stop guide to the ever-more confusing world of international standards. She collects the basic facts regarding ISO 9000, CE Mark, QS-9000, ISO 14000 and others.

Getting Into Your Customer's Head

by Kevin Davis

(Times Books, 308 pages, $25)

Davis describes the eight roles salespeople must assume to effectively fulfill their customers' needs and earn their business. This is a non adversarial, customer-first approach to sales that focuses on adding value and meshes nicely with TQM principles.

Guide to TQM in Service Industries

edited by Noriaki Kano

(Quality Resources, 284 pages, $46)

 A translation of a Japanese book from 1990, this pricey paperback is a comprehensive introductory text to TQM in service businesses. The book offers case studies, explanations of quality control tools and techniques, implementation guidelines and convincing arguments for adopting TQM.

Implementing ISO 14001

by Marilyn R. Block

(ASQC Quality Press, 247 pages, $38)

 This implementation guide is authored by one of the U.S. delegates who helped create the new environmental standards. The three-part presentation describes the standard and ISO, describes the requirements of the clauses and implementation issues, and compares ISO 14001 to many already-existing environmental standards.

Corporate Culture/Team Culture

by Jacalyn Sherriton and James L. Stern

(AMACOM Books, 214 pages, $22.95)

 Creating a corporate culture that is supportive of team-based structures is the topic of this text. The authors offer a three-phased approach that requires senior management to walk the talk, to empower middle management to build team-friendly environments and to implement supporting compensation and review systems.





How to Get Ideas

by Jack Foster

Advertising executive Jack Foster takes the reader for a chatty romp through the subject of creativity in this attractive paperback. He convincingly argues that we are all capable of creating new ideas and presents a simple, workable methodology for idea generation.

Knowing that the barriers to creativity are often internal, Foster says we must become "idea-prone." One key to getting ideas is simply believing we are capable of getting ideas. Others include the ability to have fun, goal orientation, curiosity and the practice of combining ideas.

 Foster's five-step ideation process is a synthesis of a number of other idea-generation theories. Its first four steps require that the user define the problem, gather data, work at finding solutions and then forget about the problem. (Forgetting about the problem is designed to allow the mysterious process of inspiration to occur.)

The final step of the process is one that is often not included in creativity techniques, but it is a practical and welcome one: Put your idea to work. "The truth is: There is no difference between (a) having an idea and not doing anything with it and (b) not having an idea at all," writes Foster.

This is fast, fun reading from a talented writer. The lessons are well-presented; the advice is practical and time-tested. How to Get Ideas (Berrett-Koehler, $14.95) is a fine primer for idea generation.

QS-9000 Implementation and Registration

by Gurmeet Naroola

A fitting companion to Naroola's last book on ISO 9000, this guide to the automotive quality standards follows the previous volume's format. It offers a road map to successful registration and an overview of the standards themselves.

In this case, the author creatively organizes his presentation around an extended driving metaphor. The "owner's manual" describes policy and procedure manuals; the "drive" describes training, audits and planning; and so on. This easy-to-follow format makes the sometimes inscrutable language of quality standards more accessible.

As in his prior outing, which was co-authored with Bob Mac Connell, Naroola's "TAP-PDSA" is the recommended implementation process. It is an effective project methodology that could be used in a wide variety of applications. The well-known PDSA, or Deming cycle, is enhanced by the TAP planning cycle, which ensures that the proper amount of pre-implementation training, analysis and planning is conducted.

One feature of this volume that is rare in standards books is Naroola's emphasis on the managerial environment and corporate culture needed for quality to flourish. Deming's 14 points, highlighted by drawings from cartoonist Pat Oliphant, are borrowed to guide the reader in this area.

 QS-9000 Implementation and Registration (Marcel Dekker, $45) does accomplish its goals. It effectively introduces QS-9000 and presents a generic map for implementation.

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March 97 Quality Digest