In this indispensable book, a widely experienced business consultant provides a complete set of analytical tools essential to successful trouble-shooting, effective planning, and making better decisions faster, more confidently, and more often.
Review By: Mark L. Johns 11/14/2001This book is a good reference and primer for changing the way you attempt to solve problems. The author does a great job of setting the stage for the use of his toolkit. His real-world experience as a tester and consultant lends credibility to his arguments.
He begins his work with an overview of the traditional thought processes of management; having to have the answers because that's why they get paid. The planned-versus-unplanned and past-and-future matrix follows Stephen Covey's four quadrants of time management. By paying attention to the situation, you can easily determine the response and tools needed to solve issues.
The second part of the book consists of the "standard toolkit," including Situation Assessment, Decision Analysis, Implementation Planning, Potential Problem/Opportunity Analysis, and Problem Analysis. Each of these chapters lays out problem-solving techniques based upon explicit situations that give you the ability to discern which technique to use. Each technique includes the necessary steps and tools to successfully implement it.
The third section of the book contains "The Advanced Toolbox." It looks at meeting roles and more specialized decision analysis tools, and ends with a more general look at how to become a more creative thinker. The techniques include examples and some things to try that pull the book together in a way that allows readers to tailor the information to their own situation.
The appendix contains problem-solving worksheet templates.
I found the book to be very informative. It is well written and an easy read. The author provides enough anecdotal information to help the reader see the difference between many old ways of thinking versus some new ways that can be more effective. According to the author this is mandatory to maximizing use of tools and becoming a "professional problem-solver."
Each of the techniques is analyzed and explained in detail. The steps are easy to follow and are well integrated with the tools. An index is also included to help the reader determine which technique is best suited to assist in solving individual problems. Using the information in the book should be very effective in at least setting a procedural standard for the basis of continual improvement.
All of the tools presented in the book should be useful to the quality assurance professional. The Ishikawa (fishbone) diagrams are addressed in the first toolkit section as a problem-identification tool, which should simplify a potentially onerous process. The techniques outlined in the book will require a change in mindset on the part of the practitioner and will require a lot of practice. But based upon the information detailed in the book it will be well worth the effort.