Discovering Operational Discipline

Discovering Operational Discipline

RESOURCE REVIEWS RESOURCE REVIEWS Discovering Operational Discipline Robert J. Walter, ed., HRD Press, Amherst, MA, 2002, 69 pages, $12.00 (Workshop ...

45KB Sizes 0 Downloads 99 Views

RESOURCE REVIEWS RESOURCE REVIEWS Discovering Operational Discipline

Robert J. Walter, ed., HRD Press, Amherst, MA, 2002, 69 pages, $12.00 (Workshop Facilitator's Handbook, $195.00), ISBN 0-87425-657-7 ``Let's lack no discipline, make no delay; for lords, Tomorrow is a busy day.'' ±W. Shakespeare Finally, I am able to quote Shakespeare, even if it is for a book review. I approached this book with an admittedly somewhat cautious attitude. Its title suggested unlimited potential to be discovered, something which we all are seeking, yet unsure of what that ``something'' is. And Shakespeare is rightÐwe all need discipline, because tomorrow is sure to present itself with more challenges, and if we didn't quite overcome today's challenges, we're already in the hole. But how does one discover discipline? As a child, one discovers quite it unexpectedly, and not without a certain level of discomfort. As a parent, it's the time we've been waiting for, to be on the end that giveth, as opposed to receiveth. In the corporate/academic/ industrial world, discipline hangs as a threat, sometimes real, often times implied. Operational discipline is unlike traditional discipline. Mr. Walter does a commendable job of de®ning the term, to make it appear attainable as well as something to aspire to. In his words, it is ``. . . a consistent pattern of desirable behavioral choices that supports successful human activity.'' In 69 pages, he guides the reader through the ®fteen characteristics of operational discipline. Interspersed among the pages are occasional quotations from a diverse population of notable people, including Henry D. Thoreau, Harry S. Truman, and Scott Adams (yes, the creator of ``Dilbert''). I won't give away the ®fteen characteristics, but they include interpersonal ones, and internal ones within an organization. Mr. Walter gets into values systems and management systems without getting 52

into speci®cs of Environmental Management Systems. The book is designed to be used in a workshop setting, or seminar, with a good deal of interaction and discussion among the attendees. It can also serve as a self-study text; however, group activities probably provide the greater bene®t for learning and exchange of ideas. It is de®nitely classroom material, with a slide presentation and facilitator guidebook available from Mr. Walter's ®rm (AntiEntropics). The company is described as a performance enhancement consultant ®rm (which seems like it is borrowing from the various performance enhancing power foods and vitamin supplements on the market). If one enjoys learning through exercises, Mr. Walter offers Role Model lessons, and Self-Evaluation pursuits. For each of the ®fteen characteristics, he offers representative behaviors, thus providing models which readers can aspire to. The book asks questions for each characteristic as to whether there may be personal or organizational implications. For instance, if it is generally believed that good organizational discipline would involve delegating work that would best be done by others, then one should ask the question, ``what personal implications will occur by this action?'' Will the person who is on the receiving end of more work rebel against the company? Will they create an uneasy situation in the of®ce? Will they put salt in the sugar bowl in the coffee room? What about the organizational implications? Will the person doing the delegating be viewed as a donothing suit? What if the CEO recognizes that the support staff is being over-worked? Supposedly, if one looks at all these characteristics, and asks the right questions, then organizational discipline is within their grasp. If you are a bit like me, and you feel that in the real world there is dysfunction, then this is where the book may not answer all the questions. It recognizes that there may be ``sick'' teams within organizations, and that it will be dif®cult to maintain organizational discipline in a dysfunctional setting, but it offers little remedy, only saying that however dif®cult discipline is to maintain, it is exactly what is necessary

to help the team to succeed. In other words, it is hard to change behaviors, but, the attempt must be made. Mr. Walter states, ``The gap between our worldviews can be bridged.'' I agree to a certain extent. If the bridge is not well supported, or ¯imsy, one has to know when to turn back, or re-build. Twoway communication is a must for this concept to work. In the real world, there will always be those who prefer to listen, and those who believe theirs is the only valid opinion. Again, the characteristic is well-intentionedÐ making it ¯y is another thing. I'm going to keep this book; I think it offers some valuable lessons on how to aspire to peak performance in an organization. It is similar in that way to Covey's The7 Habits of Highly Effective People, or, that other very short book, The One Minute Manager, by Blanchard & Johnson. Reviewed by Stefan Wawzyniecki

Environmental Analysis of Contaminated Sites

G. I. Sunhara, A. Y. Renous, C. Thallen, C. L. Gaudet, A. Pilon, eds., John Wiley & Sons, New York, March 2002, $99.95, ISBN 0-471-98669-0 Environmental issues have been hot topics now for quite sometime. Beginning in the 1960s there was a great deal of emphasis placed on cleaning up past sins, i.e., sites considered environmentally contaminated. With increased environmental regulation, i.e., the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Clean Water Act, the Oil Pollution Prevention Act, etc., clean up of these sites have become top priorities and prevention of future contamination has become a key focus. But, what of the professional charged with the remediation of these sites? Each site presents new and unique challenges, what worked at one siteÐ may or may not work at the next due to the mix of contaminates, soil conditions, geography, geology, potential receptors, and the list of factors goes on and on. So how does the environmental professional get a handle on 1074-9098/03/$30.00 PII S1074-9098(02)00436-7

best practices, tips, techniques, and tools, in a profession that learns some thing new every day? This question is precisely what the editors of Environmental Analysis of Contaminated Sites are trying to address. The book is an outcome of a workshop entitled Toxicity Testing Applied to Soil Ecotoxicology, held in Montreal in 1995; hence the text is a series of papers and case studies rather than a traditional chapter format. The book is divided into three primary sections (there are actually four but Part Four is entitled closing remarks): Part OneÐ Ecotoxicity Tools and Novel Approaches, Part TwoÐRisk Assessment Approaches for Contaminated Sites, and Part ThreeÐCase Studies Showing Applications of Toxicological and Ecotoxicological Risk Methods to Contaminated Sites and Remediation Technologies Management. Naturally then focus is primarily on ecotoxins and there effect in soils, but there are many tips, tools, and techniques dis-

cussed that would be applicable to a wide variety of sites. In Part One, there is an excellent discussion of the use of toxicological tools in the assessment and includes descriptions of the various toxicity tests. There is one paper on sample handling and preparation. One paper focuses on the challenges in identifying carcinogens in contaminated media and gets into the issues of public health, mixtures, and environmental transformationÐall of which have been facing the environmental professional for quite some time. Soil biomarkers are extensively addressed. Part Two changes the focus just a bit and gets into the discussion of risk assessment. There is an extensive discussion of risk-based approachesÐgeneral and site speci®c with case studies from The Netherlands and Canada. There is a critical review and a discussion of ecological risk assessments. These provide good reading for those who are considering applying risk-

Chemical Health & Safety, January/February 2003

based techniques for their particular sites. Part Three is a series of case studies. These include a risk assessment of an explosives site, a site contaminated with heavy metals, a petroleum storage site, and the application of risk-based corrective action at two sites impacted with residual hydrocarbons. Thus, this section gives the reader real world applications of the techniques addressed in the earlier sections. Environmental contamination is present and there are a host of professionals attempting to apply scienti®c techniques to these sites in an effort to remove the contamination. We all know that this is a monumental challenge and compellations like Environmental Analysis of Contaminated Sites are essential to the libraries of these professionals as they provide real world analysis of the issues and applications to allow them to perform their jobs better. Reviewed by Frankie Wood-Black