Just finished reading Velocity: Combining Lean, Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints to Achieve Breakthrough Performance – A Business Novel, by Dee Jacob, Suzan Bergland and Jeff Cox.
I don’t like this book. I won’t use it in a class, nor will I recommend that anyone read it. Pitching a purchased book ($10) into the trash is exceedingly difficult for an accountant, but I might do it to Velocity.
Why did I read the book in the first place? Bill Ellis (Furman U) said on AECM,
I’ve been assigning Goldratt’s The Goal in my intro managerial accounting classes. Lately I’ve started using … Velocity: Combining Lean, Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints to Achieve Breakthrough Performance, Dee Jacob, Suzan Bergland, Jeff Cox, for the intro class (business majors) and the cost class (accounting majors).
I’m always looking for ways to move accounting classes into the real world. My motto is One should be able to do what one knows. Sounds good, right? It is more difficult that it appears, as I like to use short snippets of the real world inserted into a college course, a course that covers more than one theme and perhaps many topics. It is an unaffordable luxury to devote an entire course to one lesson.
One approach is to take classes out into the real world via tours (very superficial) and service learning or internships. Tours are superficial, and I doubt they are more effective as a good slide show. Service learning can produce good results, but it is difficult to design short work experiences that lead to significant learning. Internships aren’t designed to provide a few specific examples of lessons from a specific class.
Another approach would be to bring the real world to the classroom via speakers, readings and simulations. A novel can hold a student’s attention and teach lessons in the context of real business events. Although this approach doesn’t generate as much learning, it is efficient with respect to limited time.
- Quick read. It doesn’t take long to read Velocity, despite being 300+ pages. I noticed the small type and minimal spacing between lines, and thought I was in for an ordeal. I wasn’t.
- Realistic depiction of working relationships. Some of the protagonists liked each other, and were able to work together. Others didn’t, risking reassignment or termination. Moreover, I’ve met most of the personality types featured in this book. Unrealistically, there are no jerks.
- No fun. It simply isn’t entertaining. Not in the least. Velocity is as interesting as an Intermediate Accounting textbook. On second thought, it isn’t.
- You call this romance? A romantic thread was added to the book. There are two middle-aged people who date, which I doubt would capture the imagination of college students. The romance is superfluous, and adds hardly any entertainment value to the book. Mercifully, there is no hugging, kissing, or anything else.
- Not educational. The theme of the book is how to merge lean production, six sigma quality, and the theory of constraints. In Velocity the characters declare they have done it, but they don’t explain to the readers how this was done.
- Predictable plot. A successful company falls apart over a three year period. The management team concocts a miracle turn around strategy that produces strong profits within three months. All live happily ever after.
- Unbelievable character. A key character in the book is a troubled airplane pilot. He also is the expert in applying the theory of constraints. It is through his inspired teaching that the management team learns enough how to concoct the miracle strategy that saves the company.
- Hawking professional services. Velocity is written by professionals from AGI-Goldratt Institute, who make their living teaching companies how to implement the theory of constraints into their business. The book is intended to drum up demand for their consulting business.
- No accounting. Accounting reports are referred to throughout the book. However, the reports aren’t explained in detail, nor are they presented in exhibits. Because accounting is important to the story, it should be included in more detail.
- Uninteresting food. Shared meals and exotic food often play a key role in helping a novel seem entertaining. The prominent dish featured in Velocity is called atomic buffalo turds. Really.
George Bohan wrote a review of Velocity for the Agile Manufacturing Update blog. He recommends skipping the first 150 pages. He’s got a good point.
Debit and credit – – David Albrecht