Why Manage Better?

Monday, December 24, 2007

What are the top five TQM books you would recommend?

I have often been asked “what books should we read on quality?” People may have this question for a range of reasons. They may actually not know where to start. I suspect the question also allows many people to deflect their decision to study to someone else. Since I was never told what book to study I never started! You get the point.

For the people who seriously asked what to read, I have often had a general answer. Read Juran, Deming, and maybe Crosby. I knew the answer wasn’t enough. As I became more active with ASQ work in India this question kept popping up more frequently than earlier. I had to do something about it.

So, motivated by repeated questioning and my misplaced confidence that I know something about quality books, I finally set out to create a list. Like most tasks this was easier done when it wasn’t started. As I set out preparing a list I was at once accosted by my lack of knowledge and a sudden realization of the futility of such a list.

After a lot of scribbles, here’s what I came up with.

1. Quality Planning and Analysis - J M Juran and Frank Gryna
2. Managerial Breakthrough - J M Juran
3. Total Quality Control - A V Fiegenbaum
4. The Six Sigma Way - Peter Pande and others
5. Quality is Free - Phil Crosby

While, I could add a disclaimer that these books are not in any specific order, I must admit I think they are in order of relevance. Also, I feel these are the ones a quality professional must read.

So why do they make my list?

Quality Planning and Analysis - J M Juran and Frank Gryna
Ok, I admit I am a Juran fan. But what can one do when a man can write with such clarity and meaning. In this classic Juran and Gryna present a range of topics that every quality manager should be familiar with. An excellent text to build fundamentals of quality. It was originally written and improved to be a text book for ASQ’s Certified Quality Engineer examination. However, over several editions the book has emerged from this narrow objective to serve as an all-round text on quality. The opening chapters on quality fundamentals and those on supplier quality are classics.

In my personal view most modern books on quality generously borrow from Juran’s seminal works.

Managerial Breakthrough - J M Juran
This is ultimate classic on quality. Written early in his career Juran later revised it to include the now famous concepts of quality trilogy and diagnostic and remedial journey. If QPA was for practioners MB is for the academic. No other book puts forward the case for quality so clearly. What is amazing is that the book hardly uses the term ‘quality’. Juran’s subsequent courses on breakthrough management have their foundation in MB.

Total Quality Control - Armand V. Feigenbaum
If there is one text book on quality that you want to study – this is it. Feigenbaum grew up in the quality function at GE. There was no aspect of industrial quality that he had no addressed. The book is more of a text book and hence not recommended for bed-side reading. Excellent text for preparing for certification examinations. In summary, a complete text.

The Six Sigma Way - Peter Pande, Robert Neuman, and Roland Cavanagh
If there is one book on Six Sigma that cuts out the statistical mumbo jumbo and still explains what needs to be explained – this is it. Brilliantly written the book can actually be read and understood by people who have no prior experience in Quality or Six Sigma. That’s quite an achievement. I particularly liked the hidden truths about Six Sigma that the authors articulate. Organized three parts: Part One: An Executive Summary of Six Sigma; Part Two: Gearing Up and Adapting Six Sigma to Your Organization; Part Three: Implementing Six Sigma -- The Roadmap and Tools. If you want to commence a six sigma journey or do some course correction, do not miss this one.

(In my personal opinion, the authors of the book appear to be immensely influenced by Juran’s Managerial Breakthrough. If you read both the books, you can’s miss the connect. Nevertheless TSSW is a modern classic.)

Quality is Free - Phil Crosby
Ok, I know all the four books above are more heavy reading than what a beginner will have patience for. If you want a book that you could read like a novel – Quality is Free will impress you. Written in a racy format the book is an excellent introduction to quality. It introduces the concept of
Zero Defects and Quality Management Maturity Grid. The often quoted definition of quality – Quality is Conformance to Requirements was, perhaps, first explained in this book. While Juran developed the subject, it was this book that popularized the concept of Cost of Quality. All in all, a gem of a readable book.

Having penned down my shortlist, I gave it a hard look. It was clear that this is a very monotone kind of list. All same type of books. Would others have a very different list? You bet! What do I do? I post a question on Linkedin.com. Here is a snapshot of some of the good ones I got. (I have removed repeats.) Needless to mention that many of the books from my list were repeated. (Feels good!)

1. The Goal - Eliyahu Goldratt
2. Out of the Crisis - W. Edwards Deming
3. Everyday Heroes - Perry Gluckman & Diana Reynolds Roome
4. Zapp! - William C. Byham, Ph.D.
5. The Pursuit of WOW! - Tom Peters
6. The New Economics - W. Edwards Deming
7. The Toyota Way Fieldbook
8. Five Frogs on a Log: A CEO's Field Guide to Accelerating the Transition in Mergers, Acquisitions And Gut Wrenching Change
9. "The American Samurai" and "Office Kaizen" by E. William Lareau
10. "The 20 Keys to Workplace Improvement" by Iwao Kobayashi
11. "Kaizen" by Masaaki Imai
12. "Understanding Industrial Design Experiments" by Mark Kimiele and Steve Schmidt
13. "The Machine that Changed the World" by Jim Womack
14. "Lean Thinking" by Jim Womack
15. Quality, Bo Bergman and Bengt Klefsjo
16. Lean six sigma for service, Michael L. George
18. ANY of the Dilbert books. :-)
19. Deming Mgt Method - Mary Walton
20. The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business by Kenichi Ohmae
21. The Oliver Wight Class A Checklist for Business Excellence (Oliver Wight Manufacturing) by Inc. Oliver Wight International Implementing Juran's Road Map for Quality Leadership: Benchmarks and results by Al Endres
22. Managing Six Sigma: A Practical Guide to Understanding, Assessing, and Implementing the Strategy That Yields Bottom-Line Success by Forrest W. Breyfogle III, James M. Cupello and Becki Meadows
23. Six Sigma and Beyond: The Implementation Process, Volume VII by D. H. Stamatis
24. The Five Pillars of TQM by Bill Creech, the father of TQM.

I wish to thank the following for helping develop the above list.
Anand Varadarajan, Charles Hannabarger, Dan Feliciano, Diane Kulisek, Dmitry Finkelstein, Ekta Khetan, Jerry Linnins, and Rick Feltenberger.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

What should Global Leaders know?

A recent question on LinkedIn.com promoted me to think what should global leaders know. The question brought up the inevitability of global sourcing for leadership (and even managerial) talent. Now, I am no expert on leadership. And I think no one is! I have some views and decided to share with the guy who asked the question and other souls who answered. Here is a summary of what I said.

From what I know about leadership pipeline - it refers to a set of potential leaders who need to be developed to take leadership positions in future (not very distant future). I have believed and coached my colleagues to understand that:

1. It takes all kinds to make this world.
2. Just because we have a hammer in hand, everything is not a nail
3. To solve a small problem don’t create a bigger one
4. Setbacks are inevitable but misery is choice
5. Don’t give the key to your happiness to anyone else.

Global leaders will need to know how to:

1. Develop other leaders. I have noticed that the most successful leaders often have a happy problem of selecting from a vast pool of leadership talent. This cannot be a coincidence. They have been working at it.

2. Identify the right people for the right job. In a multi-cultural scenario one will need to learn to close our eyes to the familiar. Good leaders will need to develop a balance of objective criteria and gut feel about who will do well and who won’t.

3. Set goals and measure performance. No arguments here. No goals lead to no performance. And no performance leads to corporate decadence.

4. Balance between sensitivity for emotions and being decisive when dealing with people. The starkest differences across cultures are primarily to do with how we treat each other or work with each other. While sensitivity will be important, one will need to be very decisive when dealing with people.

5. Find uniqueness in one’s work, business, or industry. There is no better motivator than working for a unique cause (given that the money is decent!). A leader will need to define and redefine work and business.

6. Get things done. All the above does not matter if what needs to be done doesn't get done. Getting things done should be a high priority for global leaders.

7. Close the door on negative energy at work. Negative energy at work is a big killer. It destroys motivation and team spirit. A global leaeder should be sensitive to any hints of this and sort it out before it has its affect on the team.

8. Connect with people at all levels and of all backgrounds. Global leaders will need to work with people of diverse backgrounds and levels. Any failure to connect with them will be doomsday for leaders.

They will also need to remember that what brought them here may not take them forward.

What could you read on this topic? There is tons of material but the most relevant, in my view, are the works of Ram Charan and Noel Tichy.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Why the name?

Why do I believe that quality is an unfair advantage? To be honest I did not coin this phrase. The credit goes to Suresh Lulla, my guru and mentor. The unfair advantage theme was high on our agenda when planning a new book. The book will happen, someday.

So why unfair? When an organization excels with quality invariably the competition screams Unfair. Why? Because they cannot compete with high quality. It's easier to scream unfair than putting your head down and solving the problems that your customers and employees face.

When you work with a quality and excellence paradigm you gain an unfair advantage in the market place. You can charge higher or maintain prices (gain market share with higher profitability). With quality you can be more predictable.

Why a blog? While speaking to people on the quality theme I realised that a lot of us have a story or opinion to share. All I am doing is to provide a space (it's quite easy actually, you can have your own blog too!).

What topics will cover? Anything related to quality - opinions, book reviews, tips, tools, profiles, jobs...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Management Phrase Abusage – People Are Our Number One Asset

Management Phrase Abusage (MPA) may be the most common symptom of ineffective management. Only we don't know about it. Or we choose to ignore it.

One abused phrase, "People are our number one asset," is undoubtedly a powerful one—the meaning dense and implication immense. What I wonder is, What do people seek to convey when they use this phrase? Moreover, do people really believe in it? And, if they do believe, do they ever act on it?

These and other questions have disturbed me during the course of my consulting practice. If people are our number one asset, then how do we take care of that asset? If we purchase a piece of land, or an apartment, or a high-end car, we take very good care of it. Do we think of people in the same way? Assets are construed to be inanimate. Is it then right to use “asset” in this context?

Some allowance can be made on grounds of the “transferred epithet.” If you survey the policy statements (or other such exalted rhetoric) of companies around you, I am sure you will see the double standards I am hinting at. Companies where employees are recruited without a selection process and are removed without sufficient opportunity, or are treated as slaves, have the same stated human resource policies as the companies that don't. My conclusion is: It is fashionable to say people are our number one asset.

Also, it is difficult to come up with better substitutes. So why redo it? If people are my number one asset, why do I sell off through voluntary (in most cases compulsory) retirement schemes? Why do I have appraisal systems and then look to give a higher reward to some and none to others? Why do we keep hoping and scheming how to get rid of that one person? Why do we secretly hope that our company would be so much better off without this person?

I found some answers to these concerns in the book Good To Great. Jim Collins, a meticulous and insightful researcher of corporate success, writes that “People are not the number one asset, the RIGHT people are the number one asset.” Bull’s-eye. His research shows that companies that did well over a sustained period of time stuck to a talented and committed set of people. These people were not necessarily popular. They were effective and in most cases low profile.

These companies knew who these people were and made sure they were taken care of. They did not repeat the mistake of companies that reward glamour and presentation skills but not simple, quiet, and effective performance.

How do you convert the not-so-right people to being right? In my belief this is the biggest challenge every manager faces. And my personal take is you can't really make this conversion. No one can change the attitude of a colleague, peer, team member.

You must make the hiring decision based on attitude. Hire the right people because you can't change them later. Hire for attitude, train for skills, and educate for knowledge.

It is difficult to convince people of your values. You have to find people who already believe in your values or have a similar value set.

People will believe that they are right for the company when you have the courage to differentiate, reward, recognize, and most important punish. I believe very strongly in differentiation. It’s human nature to be upset when others get what we think they don't deserve irrespective of what we got!

One of the biggest corporate icons of the twentieth century was a master at differentiation. Very early in his tenure as Chairman at General Electric (GE), he revolutionized human resource practices. Some innovations included:

· Unflinching adherence to the code of conduct and the GE way
· Open sessions to discuss personalities and performance
· Turning out the bottom 10 employees each year
· Conducting Work-Outs to empower employees

The most important practice of Jack Welch was to apply all of these rules to himself also. When asked, "How would you know Work-Out is successful?" he replied, "One of the ways we will know Work-Out is successful is that my style of leadership will no longer be tolerated in this company."

Now if you have that kind of guts, you can say that people are your number one asset. I would prefer—”The right people are our number one asset.”

Anshuman Tiwari

This article first appeared in Industry 2.0 in March 2005 as part of a column titled “On Quality.” The views expressed are solely those of the author.