10 Quick Tips on Quality

Here are 10 practical lessons from “The Ice Cream Maker,’’ by ASI Chairman and CEO Subir Chowdhury, showing how you can use LEO to improve your life at home and at work:

1. Profits are the result, the by-product of great service.

2. Turn what you do every day out of necessity into something you love to do.

3. The better you treat your employees, the better they treat your customers.

4. Focus on what you do, not just the results.

5. If you sell something, you have customers: Listen to your clients or customers.

6. Quality is defined by the customer.

7. Most American companies are better at delivering “excitement,’’ than they are at providing customers’ basic needs.

8. Great organizations are built on a thousand great ideas. To get the best ideas, you’ve got to ask your employees and create an environment that rewards creativity. Think about how to improve your product or service every day.

9. It’s not enough to simply “do your best.’’ You must strive for perfection, improving regularly. Pay attention to the details – your customers do.

10. Everyone is responsible for quality. The real performance test isn’t how you do at your best but how you do at your worst.

The Ice Cream Maker:  Quality boosts sales, relationships

Listen-Enrich-Optimize (LEO) shows way

“Be so good they can’t ignore you,’’ – Steve Martin

How do you win over customers and fans at work and at home? Provide the basics, performance and excitement.

“The Ice Cream Maker,” by ASI Consulting CEO Subir Chowdhury, shows how winning and keeping customers boils down to the basics, performance and excitement: satisfy their basic expectations, perform the way they expect and excite them with something unexpected that delights them.

The excitement step is something Americans from Benjamin Franklin to Steve Jobs have excelled at, constantly innovating, developing new products, ideas, services, new techniques and calls to action that make their targeted audiences say “wow.’’ Getting to “wow,” is an essential part of great marketing.

“The Ice Cream Maker’’ shows how Americans constantly lose ground to new rivals who figure out how to do better at the other two needs: the basics and performance. ASI Consulting’s Subir Chowdhury’s best selling 2005 book notes:

– The $2 billion space shuttle Challenger dazzled the world with innovation but was destroyed by a flaw in a $900 O-ring. The disaster cost seven lives and the investigation cost $500 million.

–  Japanese and Korean manufacturers for years were shunned for making inferior products but companies like Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Sony and Samsung focused on the basics and performance and won over Americans by boosting quality levels.

– Former New York Mayor Rudy Guliani turned around New York City in the 1990s by focusing on a “zero tolerance’’ policy that went after “the small stuff,’’ including “squeegee guys” whose minor crimes sent a message encouraging others to commit bigger crimes.

– Coca Cola spent millions introducing its bottled water, Dasani, to the European market but European scientists detected an easily detectable/easy to remove impurity. Failing at the basics, postponed the entire launch.

As Leo Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

While “The Ice Cream Maker’’ reads like a fun novel or a great conversation, its subtitle is “An Inspiring Tale about Making Quality the Key Ingredient to Everything You Do.’’

“Ice Cream Maker’’ author Subir Chowdhury is chairman and CEO of ASI Consulting Group in Bingham Farms, Mich., the firm that “wrote the book” on making quality a key part of organizational culture.

Familiar quality standards like Six Sigma, Design for Six Sigma, Quality is Everyone’s Business (QIEB), Robust Engineering and Lean standards are now joined by the more recent and easier to understand Listen-Enrich-Optimize (LEO).

ASI Consulting Group’s history goes back more than 30 years to the era when Ford Motor Co. regularly declared “Quality is Job One,’’ resulting in the Ford Supplier Institute based on the recommendations and teachings of quality gurus W. Edwards Deming and Genichi Taguchi. Taguchi later transformed that effort into the American Supplier Institute, Inc., which ultimately became today’s ASI Consulting Group.

But what good are the most rigorous quality standards if most employees don’t understand or care about them?

Most workers have spent years “tuning out’’ when some of the more mundane quality standards (ISO 9000, etc.) were mentioned at work, frequently pushed by big OEMs on suppliers. Even opponents of traditional quality standards perk up and keep wanting to hear more from Chowdhury’s “The Ice Cream Maker,’’ which introduced the Listen-Enrich-Optimize (LEO) standard in a way that anyone can understand as well as embrace.

ASI’s Chowdhury taps the power of strong stories to make readers see how important it is for anyone in any job to embrace quality as the root of everything they do. Chrysler quality Vice President Steve Walukas argued “The Ice Cream Maker should be mandatory reading for anyone entering the workforce.’’

We all eat food so “The Ice Cream Maker’s’’ main characters are two people most can relate to: a young man managing a small ice cream manufacturing plant, who is trying to get space in an incredibly, popular cutting edge grocery chain that reminded me of Whole Foods.

The story is based on the conversations between a man in manufacturing talking with a leader in popular retail services: both industries can and must learn from each other.

The characters come to life with concerns and goals we all can relate to (keeping their jobs, growing their business, making a difference, doing something that satisfies them in life and at work). And through the power of inspiring conversations and good stories, readers wind up learning what it takes to have it all in life and at work.

When “The Ice Cream Maker,’’ talks about a common concern, workers feeling they are in unimportant, dead end jobs, his supermarket friend answers: “Trust me, if you have a job, you’re needed – or else your job wouldn’t exist.’’

We learn that Listen-Enrich-Optimize (LEO) “has to do with listening to your customers, enriching the products or services you offer, and optimizing the customer experience.’’

The Washington Post summed up “The Ice Cream Maker,’’ by concluding “In 115 jargon-free pages, (ASI’sChowdhury) boils down most of the wisdom of modern management theory and practice that is equally relevant to chief executive and front line clerk.’’

The lessons of “The Ice Cream Maker” and LEO are timeless.