The Power of LEO: The Revolutionary Process for Achieving Extraordinary Results
by Subir Chowdhury, McGraw-Hill, 208 pages, $28.00, Hardcover, September 2011, ISBN 9780071767996
Subir Chowdhury has written 13 books over the years, most recently a wonderful little parable entitled The Ice Cream Maker
in which he introduced the LEO approach to sustaining quality in everything a company does. Since then, he has received repeated requests to write a more in-depth treatment of that process as it would work, or has worked, in the real world. And so Chowdhury took the LEO approach into the real world, tested it in numerous companies large and small, and has now delivered the book that so many were asking for—The Power of LEO
LEO stands for Listen, Enrich, and Optimize, and it was developed by Chowdhury and his team after he realized that the Six Sigma and other management tools they were teaching to companies weren't being fully implemented because they weren't being tailored to those companies' specific needs. LEO is designed to remedy that, tailoring those tools to each company's unique circumstances, goals, and culture.
The Listen process requires putting aside past assumptions to comprehend the challenges the organization may be facing—involving customers, suppliers and employees in the process. The Enrich process involves reaching out to all relevant parties for ideas and solutions. And the Optimize process is when the solutions are examined and evaluated, subjecting them to every kind of challenge along the way and correcting possible shortcomings. As you move through these processes, the goal is to go from simply solving the problems your organization faces to avoiding them in the first place.
There are four cornerstones or mindsets to the LEO approach: "Quality Is My Responsibility" in which quality is shifted from a department responsibility to a personal responsibility; "All the People, All the Time" stresses the need for employees on every level of the organization to be a part of the quality campaign; "An I-Can-Do-It Mindset" encourages building employee confidence to ready them for the quality transformation, and; "No One Size Fits All" stresses again the need for solutions that are tailored to the company and situation at hand.
The LEO approach is then applied to three phases, the Fire, Flow and Future. The Fire is the specific problem at hand, Flow is the entire operations side of the company, and Future involves new products and services. Chowdhury dedicates a chapter to each of these areas with a case study for each: "Putting Out Fires" at a jelly-bean factory, "Fixing the Flow" at a toy company, and "Commanding the Future" at a major car manufacturer. He then rounds out the book with more stories on "Listenening Hard," "Enriching the Product" and "Don't Compromise, Optimize."
Throughout The Power of LEO
runs the undercurrent of "The Quality Mindset," which focuses on people quality, and the author stresses from the beginning that the American leadership in innovation can better benefit our organizations and economy if we focus on quality in everything we do.