Idea Software has a Broad Impact
There are two primary categories of idea software: one focusing on crowd sourcing of ideas looking for the next “big thing,” the other focusing on incremental improvement ideas applying business processes and/or product functionality.
In this commentary, we will address incremental improvement idea software.
Here are 5 things idea software can do for your company:
- Send the message that continuous improvement is strategic to the business
Employees need to know very clearly what is expected of them. This can be set out in their employment agreement, however actions speak louder than words. And, if employees see that the leadership considers incremental improvement to be important enough to merit spending money on new software, then they will get the message.
Investment in the software platform is only one step in the process; leadership must then back that up by empowering employees to bring forward improvement ideas. They must create a positive culture where new ideas are honestly evaluated for impact. Transparency in this is key, and can be provided by the infrastructure of the idea software.
- Positively impact employee attitude and behavior
It has been proven through customer experience that when employees are empowered to participate in continuous improvement, they will rise to the occasion. They will begin to feel that their views and opinions are important and valued as an asset to the company. Often, this empowerment encourages them to see and volunteer more ideas for improvement, as they feel that they are each a valued member of the team.
We see this demonstrated every day in team sports. Happy teams are winning teams. Winning becomes infectious. The best teams take the field knowing that they are going to win and nothing will stop them. Invest in the wellbeing of your staff, empower them to contribute, and your efforts will be rewarded tenfold.
- Reduce costs and lead times
Cost and delivery are two of the main decision elements when customers decide to buy goods and services today. Incremental improvement in business processes can result in significant impact on these elements of buying criteria. The people doing the work every day are the best equipped to see where things can be improved or streamlined for best effect.
Improvement ideas that reduce cost and lead times (and other ideas, too, of course) are multiplied when work is done in teams. Teams need to collaborate and share ideas and sometimes the members of the team are in different geographic locations. The best idea software will facilitate and support effective team collaboration. Using the idea software to support the process will bring about significant cost and lead time reduction.
- Find hidden talent
There is hidden talent in every business just waiting to be revealed. This talent is often tucked away in the lower levels of the organizational structure, in the people that have earned the trust of their teams by being more knowledgeable than most. Often, these people have no formal leadership role, and as such, have no way to share their talent on a wider scale.
The creation of empowered continuous improvement teams empowered with access to idea software will bring this hidden talent to the forefront by providing a platform for expression and contribution. New leaders will emerge, and the hidden talent of the organization will be recognized.
- Reduce labor turnover
The best business I have ever visited was led by an informed and progressive management team totally committed to incremental continuous improvement. Located in an industrial neighborhood in South Florida, there were many manufacturing companies employing a predominantly Cuban American workforce at just above minimum wage with a labor turnover rate of over 20%.
As one of the largest employers in the area, this business employed over 1000 people, with an average wage structure for the locale. Labor turnover was less than 5%. Why were the employees of this company so loyal? The answer, of course, was the way that management ran the business.
The president insisted upon a culture of respect and empowerment. Teams were motivated to improve, and those that created the best improvements were recognized. The president of the company came down to the floor at the end of each month and a recognized those teams that had made the biggest impact. He also walked the floor daily, and he knew everyone by his or her first name.
This business invested in idea software. Each and every employee could log in with an idea for improvement. Everyone felt valued and appreciated, and believed that it was their responsibility to the company to improve the way things were done.
The amazing thing about this environment was the recognition and reward process managed by the leadership team had no financial component. The coveted reward was recognition, including hanging the pictures of successful teams on a wall of top achievers.