As a financial leader, I like reading cross-domain content from analysts in other fields. That’s why I like reading content at Quality Digest. While I’ve read most of Donald Wheeler’s articles, I’ve become a fan of Davis Balestracci. He’s readable, informative, and relatable.
A Few Questions for Davis Balestracci
After reading a few of Balestracci’s articles on Quality Digest (you can find the full list here), my next inclination was to reach out to him for some Q&A.
I recently bought his last book entitled Data Sanity. That’s where we pick up with the questions.
CFO Bookshelf: Would you say that Data Sanity appeals to those without a deep or wide stats or quality background?
Davis Balestracci: Thank you for buying my book (and I would love some honest feedback). The examples might be healthcare, but, as I hope you will agree, the philosophy is applicable in any environment, especially Chapters 1 to 4. It is my attempt to integrate W. Edwards Deming’s philosophy into a practical synergistic, unified whole.
CFO Bookshelf: You are a big fan of Brian Joiner’s, Fourth Generation Management, right?
Davis Balestracci: This is the book that finally helped me make W. Edwards Deming’s philosophy “hit the ground” of the EVERYDAY world — a deceptively easy read that hasn’t aged a day since its 1994 publication. It is an excellent complement to Data Sanity.
CFO Bookshelf: I also understand that you like John Miller.
Davis Balestracci: QBQ! The Question Behind the Question is a must for any consultant to get out of the “Poor me! No one understands or wants to do what I recommend.” It’s good for everyone else, too!. I recommended it to an excellent therapist friend of mine and he said, “This is one of the absolute best things I have ever seen in my career!”
CFO Bookshelf: I’d describe Deming’s actual writing as a bit choppy – I hope that’s not negative. Name a book you like that refers to his work.
Davis Balestracci: Henry Neave’s, The Deming Dimension. Deming’s writing was, in a word, “dreadful.” This is a case where the “biblical concordance” is at least two orders of magnitude better than the original! Henry writes in a delightfully entertaining style with a dry British wit that so CLEARLY explains the various facets of Deming’s philosophy.
CFO Bookshelf: Based on the other books you’ve mentioned, you are far more than a stats and quality guru. What’s one of your favorite books that’s not statistics-related?
Davis Balestracci: Faith Ralston’s Hidden Dynamics is the best book I have ever seen on understanding and managing human emotions IN THE WORKPLACE — dealing with it without resorting to the overkill of deep therapy or pop psychology that triggers “the snicker factor” in a workforce!
A book that helped me take this one step further was Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee.
CFO Bookshelf: How about a James Cramer Lightning Round? What are some other books you like and recommend?
Davis Balestracci: Here’s a list of other influential books:
Dean Spitzer’s, SuperMotivation – His brilliant concept of unintentionally lurking “demotivators” in ANY work culture is a great read.
Jim Clemmer’s, Firing on all Cylinders – This and Jim’s subsequent work on leadership, culture, and customer service have been extremely influential in helping me integrate my statistical skills into a cohesive “package.”
Donald Wheeler and David Chambers, Understanding Statistical Process Control – In my 3M industrial days, this book really helped me understand the deeper implications of how destructive a lack of basic understanding of variation could be.
Wheeler’s Understanding Variation helped me take the leap to understand the toxicity of misunderstanding variation in managerial data.
Ellis Ott’s Process Quality Control is another industrial book with a treasure trove of practical wisdom that I have adapted to the service industry world, especially his brilliant technique “Analysis of Means” (Chapter 7 of Data Sanity).
I also notice that we share a common LinkedIn mutual connection–Mark Graham Brown. His work on measurement has influenced me quite a bit.
CFO Bookshelf: Davis Balestracci, you are amazing. Please keep writing, and your clients are fortunate to have you on their team.