Out of the Present Crisis: Rediscovering Improvement in the New Economy, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Out of the Present Crisis

Rediscovering Improvement in the New Economy, 1st Edition

By Terence T. Burton

Productivity Press

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Hardback: 9781466504424
pub: 2012-05-21
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315300351
pub: 2012-05-21
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Today, organizations have achieved an overall failure rate above 80 percent with Lean, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, and continuous improvement in general. This is certainly not due to a shortage of books, consultants, and other online resources about the methodologies and tools, or the success stories of Toyota and others. However, it is due to a shortage of knowledge and practice about the most critical success factors of improvement: leadership, sustaining infrastructure, behavioral and cultural transformation, and now emerging technology. These factors produce 90 percent of the success with continuous and sustainable improvement; the methodologies and tools represent an irrelevant 10 percent. For decades, most organizations have focused on this quick and easy, irrelevant 10 percent through an endless series of fad, in-vogue improvement programs as they attempt to mimic the best-in-class practices of the most successful organizations.

Out of the Present Crisis: Rediscovering Improvement in the New Economy is the contemporary version of Deming’s famous 1982 book, "Out of the Crisis." The author builds a solid case for organizations to aggressively pursue the next generation of systematic and sustainable improvement through a combined strategy of Deming’s back-to-basics, innovation and breakthrough thinking, integration of emerging and enabling technology, and adaptive improvement across diverse environments and industries. The book’s practical, pragmatic style is backed up by many real world examples and personal experiences.

If you're looking for another book about Lean or Six Sigma "tools" this is not it. But it is a book about how to achieve lasting success by making improvement the cultural standard of excellence and living code of conduct in organizations. This popular book provides executives with an up-to-date and proven reference guide for rediscovering successful systematic and sustainable improvement in today’s economy. The author demonstrates the importance of viewing improvement as a continuous manageable "process" and covers the most critical success factors of leadership, sustaining infrastructure, behavioral and cultural transformation, and emerging technology in a practical, no-nonsense, "how-to-do" style. The book provides specific guidance for all industries including public and private corporations, hospitals, financial services, airlines, municipalities, and federal, state, and local governments.


Having worked with the author on several successful Lean Six Sigma initiatives, I have a great appreciation for his pragmatic and results-oriented approach. This book is full of the practical advice, experience, and real world examples that I have come to expect and appreciate from Burton's leadership and improvement expertise. His instructive and provocative analysis of our present circumstances is spot-on, and this book is certain to not only provide for all of us the desperately needed practical foundation for building our own cultures of innovative continuous improvement, but also fills a huge vacuum of continuous improvement thought-leadership that is so greatly lacking in today’s Western World organizational strategy.

—Mark Graham, Chief Executive Officer, LOUD Technologies

Five stars to the contemporary version of Deming's famous 1982 book, ‘Out of the Crisis.’ The author has developed an updated reference guide to improve how organizations improve through a combined strategy of Deming's back-to-basics, innovation, technology, and adaptive improvement across diverse environments and industries. This book thoroughly addresses the strategic leadership, planning, execution, performance, internalization, and other critical infrastructure factors for sustainable improvement and culture change.

—Steven Boeder, Director of Operations, The Vollrath Company, LLC

This is the first book that directly addresses the entire subject and issues with true continual improvement. Sure everyone does 'improvement', but the author hits you between the eyes with why you aren't making breakthrough improvements continually. To succeed or even survive in this economy, company leaders and executives have to recognize the improvement is not the goal. It's about making improvement a strong core competency within leadership, people, and culture. The author addresses the leadership, strategic, and cultural barriers of change, and provides practical and inspirational advice about improving how we improve. It's a must read for anyone interested getting the big picture and proven path to true turnaround improvement.

—K. Bradley Van Brunt, Jr., Vice President, Quality and Business Excellence, Endicott Interconnect Technologies

If you are a Healthcare administrative executive, physician, or clinician considering taking the Lean Six Sigma journey, reading this book definitely brings clarity of direction. Out of the Present Crisis is filled with new advice about improving hospital operations based on a deep understanding of the present dilemmas facing our healthcare environment. The author's practical guidance about how to implement major improvement initiatives successfully is the rudder needed to change the course of this colossal industry, preventing it from running aground.

—James (Jay) Varrone MBA, Director of Materials, Norwalk Hospital

This book contains a wealth of common sense and practical advice about improvement backed up by decades of real world experiences about what truly makes a difference in your business. It also provides an instructive and provocative analysis of how globalization, innovation, and technology are all reshaping the urgent need to discover new approaches and sources of improvement in all industries.

—Michael Anthony, Executive Vice President, Camridge Semantics

Every now and then an author gets it right, hitting the right target at the right time with the firepower to actually get the job done. I found this book to be a refreshing, optimistic look at an old, festering, solution-resisting problem, and the author presents a feasible solution, Lean Six Sigma and continuous improvement in general, in a comprehensive and succinct call for action. This book provides an abundance of proven knowledge about how progress and improvement can actually be made, and that is remarkable in our time of rhetoric and paralyzed decision-making. Burton's book shows a new path, and it is well worth walking down it to find good answers. Those are hard to find today.

—Alexis N.Sommers, Ph.D., Professor of Industrial Engineering, University of New Haven

Out of the Present Crisis: Rediscovering Improvement in the New Economy is a perfect title for Burton’s new book. Reading the book was like eating dinner at a five star restaurant. After consuming the Preface as my appetizer, I then feasted on the next few chapters. I was blown away with how this book has correctly and succinctly described what I and others have also observed and experienced regarding the state of continuous improvement in the western world’s business and leadership ranks. The author has created a practical and realistic line of scenarios, approaches, and deployment methods to help a business stabilize, reestablish, and then accelerate improvement across the enterprise. The dessert course of his new book is the author's next generation of improvement, improving how we improve, and how to avoid the stages of insanity and hyper-insanity through the continuous leadership development process of reckoning, renewal, and enlightenment. Like Chinese food for many people, I was hungry for more after about an hour.

—Don A. Blake, Director of Quality and Site Services, North Carolina Business Unit, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.

Having spent a career focusing on process improvement, this book provides a wealth of proven and poignant advice as well as real world examples of what works in helping organizations continually improve all aspects of their business. Continuous improvement is one of the major strategic enablers for any company to achieve sustainable success, and this book helps provide solid, practical guidance . . . especially in this challenging economy and beyond.

—Eric Lussier, P.E., Vice President, Operational Excellence, Handy & Harman Ltd.

Hospitals today have to be as focused on the business of operational improvement as on the business of saving lives. With so many resources devoted to protecting the bottom line, an organization-wide, systematic approach to improvement is imperative. This book outlines an adaptable, executive-led approach to imbedding Lean Six Sigma throughout all organizations for sustainable, silo-free improvement.

—Lee Michael McLean, Six Sigma Green Belt, Director, Business Development and Networks, VHA New England

In this timely guidebook for all industries, Burton emphatically reminds us that the need for improvement never goes away, and he spotlights the importance of enlightened leadership and behavioral alignment in achieving real cultural change. Read it, and benefit from a profusion of real world advice.

—Joseph F. Geary, Executive Vice President, Sciessent

Having spent years in manufacturing I understand all too well the transformations that needs to take place in America. The author's discussions about the higher moral purpose of improvement makes one realize that everyone has a large stake in improving our organizations, the quality of society in general, America's competitive global position, and the quality of life for future generations.

—Wayne Pearson, Supply Chain Manager, GT Solar Inc.

Full of practical advice, experiences, and real world examples, this book presents a great understanding of sustainable business improvement. It also provides an enlightening analysis of how globalization, technology, and market forces across different industries are driving the need to adapt a different focus and approach to strategic improvement. The Improvement ExcellenceTM framework and other direction presented in the book provide a comprehensive roadmap for responding to those trends and ensuring the ongoing delivery of stakeholder value.

—K. Joanne Kalp, Vice President, Product Management, Draeger Monitoring Systems and IT Solutions

Mr. Burton’s latest book updates Deming's famous 1982 book, ‘Out of the Crisis’, for the 21st century business leader by integrating Lean Six Sigma innovation, enabling technologies and a healthy dose of common sense with Deming’s back-to-basics approach. Those readers seeking to rediscover improvement as an integral part of a successful business strategy will find that Out of the Present Crisis: Rediscovering Improvement in the New Economy provides an easy to follow roadmap that ensures their improvement efforts translate into operational and strategic achievement.

—Hermann Miskelly, Vice President of Quality, MATHESON TRI-GAS, INC.

I am inspired by Terry’s passion and unswerving commitment to advancing the art and science of sustainable performance improvement. His new book convincingly describes how Lean Six Sigma methods can achieve breakthrough process and cultural transformations in healthcare delivery. Terry 'gets it right' regarding the importance of strategically aligning improvement work, the critical role of hospital leadership in improvement, and the all-important engagement of physicians and healthcare employees.

—Dave Gronewold, MS, MBA, Certified Master Black Belt, Global Director, Customer Excellence, Covidien

The competitive landscape has changed significantly within the Medical Device Industry. Emerging markets and technologies have brought increased pricing pressures on Hospitals, OEM’s and Healthcare providers. The author provides a practical and concise approach in utilizing Lean Six Sigma tools and methodologies in transforming business leaders to be more competitive in the global Healthcare Industry marketplace.

—David Delmonico, Director, Global Sourcing, Smiths Medical, Inc.

Full of practical advice, experiences, and real world examples, this book presents a great understanding of business improvement. While grounded in experience the advice is geared to the dynamics of today’s economy, and includes a valuable discussion on the enabling capability of new technologies on strategic improvement initiatives.

—Tim Andreae, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, MCA Solutions

Spreading the skills necessary to drive strategic improvement will be the most important component of a new, more value oriented healthcare system. This book gives healthcare leaders the insight into this most critical role.

—Robert G. Norton, President, Partners - North Shore Medical Center

The rapid deployment and rapid results approaches of improvement resonate well with executives faced with the challenges of global uncertainty and not interested in another corporate train-the-masses program. This is exactly the approach SAP is taking with Rapid Deployment Solutions packages that contain preconfigured applications and productized services for accelerated time to value.

—Martin Mrugal, Senior Vice President, Manufacturing Industries & Solutions, SAP AG

The role of the CIO in organizations today is a critical, complex and dynamic role. The chapter on the role of technology provides a significant perspective on how companies can really leverage the role and overall IT function in creating breakthroughs in improvement and value that will in turn provide a strategic differentiation in the marketplace. This chapter is a must read for all levels within an organization.

—Peter Girgis, Vice President, Information Technology, Visio, Inc.

Having worked with the author on many Lean Six Sigma projects within our business, his passion for continuous improvement is infectious and flows throughout this book, becoming quite hard hitting and direct at times, and reinforcing the view that a continuous improvement culture should not be considered a mere 'option.' As business leaders, our world is changing more than ever before and we are facing tougher challenges. This book provides an up-to-date set of tools to help us become better leaders, improve the way we improve our businesses, and to ultimately not just survive - but excel and win.

—Andy Trott, Vice President and General Manager, Mixing, Microphones and Headset (MM&H) SBU, Harman International Industries, Inc.

Terry’s passion shines through in his emphasis on the higher moral purpose of improvement. It creates a sense of personal ownership in improving organizations, the broader quality of society in general, America's role as a global leader, and the quality of life for our future generations.

—Jeff Sams, Vice President, Quality & Lean Systems, Sequa Automotive Group

This book will serve as a map during the adventurous quest for 'best in class.' I couldn’t recommend a more effective partner than the author—and this book—as a supremely effective guide for the successful 'change warrior' to compete in this 21st Century.

—Michael L. Goldman, CPC, President & Founder, Strategic Associates, Inc.; Past President and Lifetime Honorary Member, The Pinnacle Society

This book provides the inspiration and direction for rediscovering improvement while integrating technology as a major enabler to strategic and operating success. Follow the step-by-step advice in this book and your organization will put the word continuous back into continuous improvement.

—Phil Pegg, Vice President, Business Management Office, North America Marketing, SAP

This book provides a simplified process of implementing continuous improvement for real, which is much needed in this economy. The author demonstrates the importance of laser targeting the larger global improvement opportunities, and how rapid improvement is essential to building a nimble culture and staying on track with continuous improvement.

—Jim Hardiman, Vice President Engineering, The AVC Group

I enjoyed this book … it provides a fresh look at improvement in the new economy, and thoroughly addresses the leadership, strategy, sustainable infrastructure, and other critical success factors that actually create the cultural standard of excellence, and the solid foundation for successful continuous improvement. An outstanding reference on improvement!

—Stephen A. McCusker, Sr. Director, Global Supply Chain & Consumables Engineering, Gen-Probe, Inc.

The author provides a thoughtful and reasonable approach to applying improvement techniques to federal, state, and local governments, and other not-for-profit organizations. In addition to its social and political components, government also possesses economic and process components that are too often overlooked but that must be improved by applying sound business techniques.

—Erik M. Filipiak, PhD, Theodore J. Eismeier Fellow in Political Science, The Alexander Hamilton Institute

Improving business processes and practices is no longer just for the associates on the manufacturing floor. Terry Burton’s new book, Out of the Crisis: Reinventing Improvement in the New Economy, provides a compelling treasure trove of actionable ideas for and real-life examples of applying practical, proven approaches to improve all kinds of organizations such as manufacturing, hospitals, service corporations and government; and corporate functions not always included in improvement initiatives such as strategic planning, sales and marketing, engineering, financial management, and other professional, knowledge-based transactional processes. Not only does his book make a compelling case for becoming expert at improvement itself (his concept of Improvement Excellence™), but it provides numerous examples and a multi-million dollar list of ideas about how organizations can improve competitiveness to overcome challenges and succeed in the global economy.

—Sherry R. Gordon, President, Value Chain Group LLC

Terry’s pragmatic approach has a way of turning the complicated into the simple. The guidance offered throughout his book has helped us to lower our functional costs, improve quality, and continue to keep us at the front of the pack as we speed along the world class track. I am confident that any organization that vigorously applies the principles in this book will see dramatic results in their bottom line, and a renewed culture of continuous improvement.

—Rob Urry, Vice President and General Manager, Signal Processing and Amplifier Business Units, Chief Technical Leader Harman Pro Division, Harman International Industries

A truly remarkable work . . . I endorse the idea of Improvement ExcellenceTM – The last thing our organization and others need is another fad, train-the-masses improvement program. The future is about organizations adapting to constant challenges and improving how they improve.

—Jim Foster, VP Sales North America, Philips Consumer Lifestyle

The author presents the next generation of improvement based on the fusion of technology and process innovation to 'improve the way we improve.' It is refreshing to finally find a practical guide for rediscovering improvement success!

—Jennifer Ellis, Faculty - Technology, Operations and Information Management, Babson College

Table of Contents

The Seeds of Continuous Improvement


Continuous Improvement: A Brief History for the Uninitiated

My Early Lessons in Continuous Improvement

Grandpa Harrington’s Farm

Off to the University

Benny, the Shop Steward

The Latest Wave of Improvement

Improvement Excellence™: The New Model of Improvement

Reinventing Deming’s Fourteen Points

Infrastructure: The Foundation of Continuous Improvement

Behavioral Alignment: The Bedrock beneath the Foundation

Summary Points


Infrastructure Overview: Accelerating Continuous Improvement


A Quick Lesson on the Basic Essentials

The Improvement Bathtub Curve

The Relationship between Diminishing Value and Waste

Payoffs through Layoffs Are Not Improvement

The Next Generation of Improvement

The Philosophy of Improvement Excellence™

The Improvement Excellence™ Framework

"DMAIC" the Common Language of Improvement

Implementation Infrastructure

Building the Sustaining Improvement Infrastructure

Infrastructure Element: Strategic Leadership and Vision

Infrastructure Element: Deployment Planning

Infrastructure Element: Execution

Scalable Lean Six Sigma™

Continuous Improvement: No Longer a Fad or Option


Leadership: Building A High-Performance Culture


Leadership Transformation in the New Economy

History Lesson: Is Leadership the Real Problem?

A Root Cause Analysis on Leadership

Breaking Out of the Leadership Quagmire

The Most Important Choice: Behavioral Alignment

Behavioral Alignment Begins in the Executive Suite

So, How Do We Align Organizational Behaviors?

Best Practice Leadership Behaviors






Excellence Is a Journey

Begin the Journey Right

It Is Time to Go Downtown


Setting a Renewed Course of Improvement


The Philosophy of Improvement

Innovation Requires Enlightened Leadership

Maslow Upside Down

Business Diagnostic: The Fact-Based Foundation

Executive Education and Development

Improvement Strategy and Vision

The Formal Leadership Implementation Infrastructure

Policy Deployment: Prioritizing and Cascading Target Opportunities

Continuous Improvement Rediscovered and Under Way


Deployment Planning for Rapid and Sustainable Results


The Consequences of Poor Deployment Planning

Developing the Deployment Plan

How to Develop the Deployment Plan

The Macrocharter

Project Selection

Project/Resource Alignment

Team Assignment

Project Charter


More Than a Plan

Customized Education and Talent Development

How to Tailor Education to Business Improvement Requirements

Communication and Stakeholder Engagement

Developing an Effective Communications Strategy

Getting Off to an Unstoppable Start

Basic Change Management Essentials

The Power of Power HitsBibliography

Execution and Sustainability


Thawing Out the Freeze

Launching with the Best in Mind

The Components of Talent Management

Leveraged Mentoring

Proven Continuous Improvement Expertise

Business Process Experience

Knowledge of Best Practices

Multi-Industry Executive Experience

Integration of Enabling Technology

"DMAIC" the Process of Continuous Improvement

The Continuous Process of Financial Validation

Accelerate Individual Project Paths

Integration of Improvement Methodologies

Appreciate the Simple Stuff: Checklists, Templates, Visuals, Flags, and Paeans

Complete the C in Control

Concurrent Continuous Improvement

Improving How We Improve

Translate the Systematic Process into Breakthrough Results


Transforming Culture through Internalization


The Cultural Checkup

The Broken Moral Compass

The Dynamics of Culture Change

Velocity of Improvement

Magnitude of Improvement

Sustainability and Adaptability of Improvement Process

Critical Mass Acceptance

What Is Internalization?





Socialization: The Operating System of Internalization

Measuring the Success of Continuous Improvement

Strategic Leadership and Vision Metrics

Deployment Planning Metrics

Execution Metrics

Great Cultures Attract Success


The Role of Technology in Strategic Improvement


The Changing Role of CIOs

The Emergence of Transactional Enterprises

Technology Is Not Stopping for Complacency

Avoiding Technology Entrapment

Technology Enables Rapid Deployment, Rapid Results

Scrubbing And Removing the Black-and-White Spaces

The Fusion of Technology and Improvement

Technology: The Superaccelerator to Cloud Improvement


The Multimillion-Dollar List of Improvement Opportunities in Manufacturing, Distribution, and Service Corporations


Strategic Management

Strategic Planning Process

Acquisition and Integration

Global Outsourcing Strategy

New Product Development

Concept Development

New Product and Services Development Process

Software Development Process

Global Commercialization

Global Supply Chain Management

Sales and Operations Planning (Single-Plan Concept Sales, Operations, Finance)

Global Planning, Logistics, and Control

Supplier Development and Management

Quality, Compliance, and Regulatory Management

Quality Management Systems

Warranty and Returns

Sales and Marketing

Innovation and Market Research

Request for Quotations

Product Management and Rationalization

The Selling Process

Advertising and Promotion Effectiveness

Customer Service

Financial Management

Financial Close Process

Excess and Obsolete Inventory

Invoicing and Collections

Real Estate and Facilities Management

Global Space Management

Strategic Utilities, Reclamation, and Waste Management

Human Resource Management

Talent Acquisition and Management Process

Benefits Package Value Analysis

Information Technology

Enterprise Architecture Process Improvement

IT Value Analysis

Balanced Performance Management Systems



Strategic Improvement in Hospitals


The Starving Beast

Postponing the Obvious

Reinventing Hospitals with Lean Six Sigma

Enlightening Hospital Leadership

Reckoning Improves the Journey

Thinking Process, Not Silos

The Value Proposition of Lean Six Sigma

Defining and Quantifying the Entitled Benefits

Is a 10X, 50X, or 100X Annualized ROI Compelling Enough?

A Lean Six Sigma Implementation Plan for Hospitals

Improvement Is Preventive Medicine, Not Life Support


Strategic Improvement in Government


Waste Is Everywhere and Growing Exponentially

The Entrenched Roots of Inefficiency

The Obsolete Government Model

Lawyer-Up Leadership

Talent Neutralization

The Economic Meltdown: A Root Cause Analysis


Analyzing Root Causes of Failure

Would Improvement Have Saved the Day?

Lessons Learned

Urgent Need: The Industrialization of Government

The Most Important Action: Voting Out Waste

A Complete Leadership Overhaul

The Government Turnaround Plan

Stage 1: Basic Leadership Containment and Controls

Stage 2: Immediate Analysis and Corrective Actions

Stage 3: Formal Improvement (Lean Six Sigma, Outsourcing, Enabling Technology, etc.)

Stage 4: Keeping Government Healthy and Trustworthy

The Call to Action




About the Author

Terence T. Burton is president and chief executive officer of The Center for Excellence in Operations, Incorporated (CEO), a management consulting firm headquartered in Bedford, New Hampshire, with offices in Munich, Germany. Terry’s background includes extensive leadership and executive operations experience with Atlantic Richfield, Polaroid Corporation, and Wang Laboratories. Previously, he also held senior practice leadership positions with two large international consulting firms, KPMG and Pittiglio, Rabin, Todd, & McGrath (PRTM).

Since founding his own management consultancy in 1991, Terry has led international management consulting assignments with over 300 manufacturing, healthcare, and service clients, implementing thousands of strategic improvement initiatives in the Americas and Europe. In the firm’s 20 years of existence, CEO’s clients have accumulated billions of dollars in documented benefits through various strategic improvement initiatives, such as Lean Six Sigma. He is an industry-recognized thought leader, implementation expert, keynote speaker, and author of seven previous books and hundreds of articles on improvement and industrial engineering topics such as Kaizen, Lean, Six Sigma, outsourcing, acquisitions, global quality, supply chain management, new product and services development, change management, and other strategic improvement initiatives.

Terry holds an MBA from Boston University and a BSIE and an MSIE/OR from the University of New Haven and is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. Terry is best known for his "hands-on" approach to consulting, his personable and approachable style, and his executive leadership savvy in transforming organizations.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Management Science
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control
MEDICAL / Administration