Improvement Methods and Tools

The Improvement Handbook: Model, Methods, and Tools for Improvement, API, Austin, TX, 1997

 

This book builds on previous versions and serves as a guide to those trying to make improvements. One of the main contributions of the book is the explanation and use of the "Model for Improvement." This Model provides a useful level of structure to teams and individuals trying to improve. Other methods useful for developing, collecting, organizing, and learning from data are presented with a variety of case studies. In addition to the basic tools from quality improvement, methods such as two-way tables, affinity diagrams, problem solving, and survey methods are presented. The book has many service industry examples, making it easy for most readers to relate.

Quality Improvement Through Planned Experimentation

 

This book places planned experimentation as part of an overall quality improvement effort. The design and analysis of analytic (as opposed to enumerative) studies is presented. Graphical methods of analysis are emphasized for all the classical experimental patterns. The book starts with the principles of design of analytic studies and presents designs for situations one would encounter in improving quality. A chapter on designing quality into products and processes is included. The book's final chapter contains two detailed case studies.

Juran's Quality Handbook (McGraw-Hill International Editions: Industrial Engineering Series)


Juran’s Quality Handbook is considered the primary reference book for quality engineers, managers and other quality professionals. The book was first published under the title of “Juran’s Quality Control Handbook in 1951.The Handbook’s forty-eight chapters are arranged into five sections. First, the management section addresses planning, control, and improvement of quality. The second section addresses the activities through which products and services are developed and brought to market. The third section describes how quality is attained and maintained in various industries. The fourth section of the Handbook gives the reader some insight as to how quality is managed in selected countries around the globe. The fifth section covers some statistical tools that are necessary for making improvements and managing quality. If you are planning to take any of the Certifications sponsored by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), this book is a must.

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2nd edition

 

Many people have said that reading this book changes the way they look at data. The book is already considered a classic in the design of graphs and presentation of data. The design of the book is based on the principles it espouses: elegant typography and layout, and seamless integration of text and graphs. Good graphic design, he argues, reveals the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space. Interestingly, Tufte continually reinforces the importance and impact of illustrations in understanding complex concepts. In showing both good and bad graphic design, Tufte has examples from as far back as 1686, and many examples from the 18th, 19th & 20th centuries and from many different
countries. Some of the best examples of this come from the pre-computer era, when graphics had to be drawn by hand. For example, that picture you can see on the front cover of the book is actually a train timetable that packs a whole list of arrivals and departures at many different stations into a single little picture. The "best statistical graphic ever drawn" shows Napoleon's march to Russia and back. Through numerous examples, Tufte demonstrates how to rearrange and simplify tabulated lists, schedules, graphs, diagrams and maps in a way that elegantly reveals otherwise hidden relationships and patterns. He also gives examples of really bad design, (including "the worst graphic ever to make it to print"), and shows
what makes it so bad. His examples prove that information-less, counter-intuitive graphics can still look dazzlingly pretty, even though they're useless. In some examples, he shows how small changes can make the difference between an awful graphic and a really good one. The second edition provides high-resolution color reproductions of the several graphics found in the first edition. Tufte has also compiled two other books that
build on his work here: Envisioning Information and Visual Explanations.

Measuring Customer Satisfaction: Development and Use of Questionnaires

 

This book provides detailed information about how to construct, evaluate, and use questionnaires. The author considers both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of questionnaire design and evaluation. In simple, understandable terms, the book presents detailed information on how to develop questionnaires using underlying scientific principles. Topics also include: Scale development; The concept of quality; Two methods of determining important service or product characteristics as received by the customer. Unfortunately, it is not particularly helpful in terms of actually doing the techniques it presents. It does not address the many traps and pitfalls one needs to be aware of when trying to interpret customer satisfaction data.

Beyond Reengineering: How the Process-Centered Organization is Changing Our Work and Our Lives

 

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Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution (Collins Business Essentials)

 

The authors argue that American business is in a crisis based on the inability to focus on customers and the use of business principles that are two-hundred years old. The major themes of reengineering are that it is process-driven, it requires rule breaking, and it makes creative use of information technology. The case studies cited are familiar to students of quality improvement although the authors try to differentiate it from quality processes with descriptive words like "fundamental, radical, and dramatic." The authors estimate that 50 to 70 percent of reengineering efforts attempted fail to achieve dramatic results. In the epilogue to the book, they state, "Although we have explored reengineering at some length, we have barely scratched the surface of the topic, as readers who attempt reengineering in their own companies will discover. For instance, we have only written a little about how organizations can actually make reengineering happen." Experienced readers will recognize that reengineering is part of the foundation of Quality as a Business Strategy. This book's contribution is to encourage organizations to invest improvement resources in these more fundamental changes to their systems.

Process Innovation: Reengineering Work Through Information Technology

 

This paper first introduced the API "Model to Improve Quality" which has its basis in the theory of knowledge. The paper describes the context for process improvement and describes the three phases of the model (called "strategy for process improvement" in the paper). The model is an adaptation of the Deming or Shewhart cycle. The relationship between the basic methods of quality improvement and the model is discussed in the paper.

Improvement and Variation, API-Austin, Austin, Texas, 1994

 

This book is a methods book for making improvements with a stronger technical and statistical content than Improvement Handbook. It is intended for the analyst, technician and engineering audience. Each method is presented with case studies to better demonstrate the methods.

Reengineering Handbook, AT&T Quality Steering, AT&T Customer Information Center, Indianapolis, 1991

 

This handbook was developed by a project team in the AT&T Corporate Quality Office. They define reengineering as a bold, planned redesign of all or part of a process that requires demanding imagination, commitment, and investment. They use the word "process" to describe specific work activities, as well as broad management and support systems. Reengineering is described within the context of AT&T's Total Quality Approach. The authors position reengineering as an improvement approach under process management. An approach to a reengineering project is described, including some criteria to decide if reengineering is appropriate. The book contains three excellent appendices on methods and tools for creativity, the application of information technology, and references for more information.

Research Methods in Social Relations

 

This book, which addresses experimental design in the social sciences, was first published in 1951. The emphasis is on observation rather than physical measurement. The first part of the book addresses the logical issues in planning studies, while the second and third sections address the practical issues of implementation. This book is different than others on experimental design in its emphasis on scales rather than continuous data. There is a good chapter on scaling for questionnaires and the development of questionnaires. The chapter on writing reports is useful.

Understanding Statistical Process Control

 

Wheeler and Chambers have provided a book that not only explains the use of control charts, but why the control chart "works." Chapter 5 (p.111) and the discussion around "subgrouping" would be of great help to someone just beginning to learn about the use of control charts. The Tokai Rika (cigar lighter socket) control chart is documented and described in Chapter 7.

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