The Ice cream Maker by Subir Chowdhury - a small yet powerful book on Quality. The best thing about the book is that it is a tale; it succeeds in retaining the reader's interest. The narration was concise and simple. It made me want read on. For the first time, I did seriously think about my own job, the quality of work I do, we as a team do and the enormous scope that we have for improvement.
To put it simply, the story is about a dairy manager who is facing the threat of closure if he doesn’t turn around the business of ice cream manufacturing. He realizes that employee morale is low, they have already laid off few people, and cash inflow for any improvements is not forthcoming. He needs a sale to Natural Foods, a chain of stores; this new account could be a savior for his company. Once he meets the manager of Natural Foods, an ex-neighbor of distant past, he realizes the various problems his products have - mainly quality. Through continuous interaction with the store manager, he learns the various aspects of quality and tries to implement in his plant. This leads to small but positive changes in the productivity, employee morale, changes in the mindset of the owner, and finally the required sale to Natural Foods.
The story is basically explaining a concept called LEO - Learn, Enrich and Optimize with respect to quality. The idea is to build quality in every aspect, every area and every role in an organization. Make every one feel responsible about ensuring highest quality in the work they do - no matter how big or small the role/work is. The point that has been emphasized in the book is that quality is not a one-time activity - it is continuous and always there is room for improvement.
Well, if we look at it, almost all management books would say pretty much the same thing, but this is a book that makes one 'think' about it after putting it down. To try and see if there is a small chance for us to implement what it says. And, this I think, is a great achievement for a book.