THE QUALITY JOURNEY by Joseph H. Boyett

THE QUALITY JOURNEY

How Winning the Baldrige Sparked the Remaking of IBM
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 In light of last month's announcement that IBM was taking an $8.9-billion charge against second-quarter earnings and eliminating another 85,000 jobs, the incredibly upbeat subtitle of this parochial case study appears to have been overtaken by events--and is simply misleading. In any case, what Boyett (coauthor, Workplace 2000, 1990) and his trio of high-ranking Big Blue collaborators are about is a tricks-of-the-trade rundown on how a remote outpost (based in Rochester, Minnesota) in the corporate empire copped the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1990 after finishing out of the money in the prior year's competition. It's notable that one of Boyett's coauthors, Roy A. Bauer, was lead author of The Silverlake Project, 1992, an appreciably more informative account of how the Rochester facility undertook a crash program that yielded it the AS/400--a bestselling line of midrange computers--and public recognition. By contrast, Boyett focuses on the nuts-and-bolts aspects of what was involved in going for the gold on two occasions. While he briefly suggests that the second-time-around triumph had important implications for the company as a whole, neither his text nor IBM's currently unhappy state supports a conclusion other than that vying for the Baldrige can prove a costly, nerve-racking, and time- consuming proposition. On a by-the-numbers basis, moreover, roughly a third of the book is given over to a verbatim reprint (lacking only proprietary data) of Rochester's winning application, a document whose appeal would seem confined to a handful of specialists. Worth noting as well (though Boyett doesn't) is the fact that industry's demand for open systems has put the AS/400 on a slippery down slope. A superfluous, redundant exercise. Those seeking up-to-date guidance on the lessons to be learned from IBM should turn to Paul Carroll's estimable Big Blues (reviewed below).

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1993
ISBN: 0-525-93659-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1993