DoD accountant offers quality guide

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Business book readers can get droopy-eyed reading guru after guru of the total quality management movement blather on about paradigm shifts and culture change. A new book from an unexpected author provides a refreshing jolt, with clear, useful tips on doing a better job on the job.

Timothy J. Clark, a systems accountant for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Indianapolis, Ind., may be a bureaucrat in the literal sense of the word. But his new book, Success Through Quality: Support Guide for the Journey to Continuous Improvement, reads like the pragmatic advice of the most successful private-sector leader.

Clark begins with a basic introduction to quality management concepts, vocabulary and techniques. He then explains the tools that managers use to pursue better results: flowcharts, histograms, cause-and-effect diagrams and Pareto charts.

Clark intersperses common-sense axioms throughout the guide, helping readers keep their eyes on the big picture of quality as they learn its details.

"Doing or saying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result indicates optimism, fear, lack of knowledge, and/or insanity," Clark writes.

His guide is heavily annotated, referring readers to the sources of ideas in quality gurus' tomes. But his explanations are so clear that they spare readers the pain of sifting through those texts.

It should come as little surprise that such a clear voice on quality calls out from the federal bureaucracy. Clark follows in the steps of W. Edwards Deming, the world-renowned quality theorist who helped the Japanese become a world-class industrial power in the second half of this century. Deming began his career as a physicist at the Agriculture Department.

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