If you have (or are considering creating) an idea board to collect employee suggestions for improvement, please take a minute to pat yourself on the back. You obviously realize the value of employee ideas and understand that not all innovation comes from the top down. You are also willing to act on that instinct and try to gather opportunities for improvement from all sources. Good for you!
But we’d like to offer a few reasons to consider ditching the physical board and choosing a digital approach instead.
By doing so our clients have accelerated the pace of improvement within their organizations and achieved significantly greater impact than the analog approach produced.
Digital idea boards are more effective because:
They are available from anywhere
It is common these days for teams to be spread out with workers in multiple locations or even working some or all of the time from home. The problems that physical idea boards pose for remote or distributed workforces are obvious. Even if everyone works in the same building, people travel and the best ideas don’t always come during the workday. That’s why it makes sense to have an idea platform that is available online from anywhere. When inspiration strikes, employees can document their brainchild on their mobile device. This way great ideas are not lost for want of a post-it note.
Digital idea boards unify improvement work
Under the right circumstances, physical idea boards may do a good job of collecting employee feedback, but then what? Often, the answer is nothing. There is no one responsible for evaluating and implementing ideas and nothing gets done. Some organizations, of course, have a plan for turning these ideas into action, but that process isn’t managed on the idea board. Typically, a different project management solution or spreadsheet is used. However, it makes a lot more sense to choose a platform that is purpose-built to collect ideas and manage the evaluation and implementation process. People have one go-to portal for everything related to continuous improvement.
Alerts and notifications generate forward progress
Physical idea boards are passive. They don’t do anything to alert managers when new input is received, nor do they help encourage action by letting folks know when tasks are accomplished or delayed. Some digital boards, on the other hand, have features built-in that notify managers and other users when something needs their attention. This helps ensure that improvement happens faster.
History is preserved
A physical idea board, no matter how well-designed and maintained, can only give you a snapshot in time. You can’t see what was there last year, so you don’t have an easy way to tell which improvement activities have been effective in the past, what has already been tried, and what lessons were learned. With a digital board, on the other hand, there’s no limit to the amount of information that can be saved for future reference. Users can search the database for similar problems, or solutions and avoid repeating mistakes or duplicating efforts.
Impact can be measured
Some improvements result in an immediate and obvious impact, but with most, it takes time for the advantages of the improvement to come to fruition. Some improvements are ever green, saving money or improving quality far into the future. It is important to be able to quantify the impact of each improvement that is implemented to justify continued investment in improvement work, recognize the employees who make positive change happen, and increase engagement with improvement. Physical idea boards can’t really help you with that, but the best digital ones certainly can.
Collaboration is simplified
We mentioned earlier, that people tend to be spread out these days. Physical idea board not only make it difficult for remote workers to offer opportunities for improvement, but they also don’t help people from different parts of the organization work together to make change happen. Digital boards take some of the friction out of collaboration by giving everyone a central place to store documents related to improvement, manage tasks, share notes, and get status updates. Some of the toughest problems require cross-functional collaboration for an effective solution so why not make it as easy as possible?
Digital idea boards are the ideal platform for collecting, implementing, sharing, and measuring opportunities for improvement. They make it possible to get more out of every employee suggestion, get improvement work done faster, and prove the results. That’s why we’re never surprised when clients are delighted by their own success.