I am not a big book reader but every once in awhile I go through a season of reading. It is usually precipitated by some roadblock or impasse that I find myself in either at work or at home. When the season hits I will tend to read a lot in a particular area. For example when I realized I was going to live in Japan for a few years I began to read anything on Japan I could get my hands on; modern history, ancient history, fiction. Heck I even started watching Kurosawa films! Out of this “deep dive” a few nuggets will inevitably rise to the top and will be added to the permanent part of my bookshelf. Here are a few of my nuggets in the areas of project management, process improvement and systems thinking.
The PMBOK is focused on the theory of project management. It is chalked full of common principles for project management which are very handy as reference material if one is creating a project management methodology or improving an existing one. So while the PMBOK can’t be the only material on project management on your bookshelf it certainly should not be missing.
Most technology projects are in fact not true technology projects but 95% business process redesign, also known as change. The PMBoK does a great job focusing on the nuts and bolts of projects but what it really misses is the people side, the change side. EPIC change is a method proposed by Tim Clark to approaching change. It is a four-phase waterfall type methodology comprised of evaluating, planning, implementing and consolidating. I think every project manager should read this book, while I suggest every change leader read the PMBoK.
The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt and Alex Cox is very interesting book on process improvement and introduces the theory of constraints. It is told as a novel surrounding the life of Alex Rogo, the manager of a small town manufacturing plant and has been given 3 months to turn around the operation around or everyone will lose their jobs. On a side note, Tim Clark from EPIC Change would say that survival is a very strong motivator for change…lol. All kidding a side, I really enjoyed this book as it, like many other books in this collection, asks questions more than it gives you answers. It points you in the direction it doesn’t force you there. A highly recommended book on process improvement.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993) was an American statistician, professor, author, lecturer and consultant. Dr. Deming spent a few years in Japan following the Pacific War where he trained many Japanese in the arts of statistical control and quality improvement. Deming focused on the responsibility of management to improve the system in which employees work by focusing on four parts of a system of profound knowledge (Appreciation of a system, knowledge of variation, theory of knowledge and knowledge of psychology). Out of the Crisis is Deming’s call to America to change lest they be left behind. It is a MUST READ for anyone interested in quality control and improvement.
This book chronicles how a Seattle based hospital embarked on a journey to answer a controversial question: “Could the Toyota Production System (the philosophy of lean manufacturing, zero waste, just-in-time stock, quality improvement etc.) be adapted to health care?”. The answer is absolutely YES but wholly dependent on having some key elements in place…1) strong leadership willing to stake their careers and their credibility to achieve excellence and 2) a crisis which is so dire it leaves no other course but to change.
Virginia Mason has been on their process improvement journey for 10 years…but how are they doing really? This book seeks to answer that question and the more important one…can the success of the Virginia Mason Production System be reproduced in other hospitals/countries?
I really enjoyed this follow up book as I was curious to see how successful Virginia Mason would be. It was a good read with some excellent nuggets regarding the paramount importance of good leadership in change. Whether you are a clinician or not this book will get you thinking about the right types of questions to be asking.