Your idea board is probably full of smart suggestions about how to improve all sorts of processes, improve safety, reduce costs, eliminate defects, and get more work done faster.
But what about the idea board itself?
We find that it is common for people to forget to think about improving improvement. If you haven’t thought about it for a while, now is a good time to ponder what you could do to make your idea board even more effective.
Align Ideas with the Company Goals and Strategy
We’ve written before about the importance of strategy deployment, making sure that everyone is rowing in the same direction towards the organization’s most important milestone objectives. Most teams find that they can’t implement every idea for improvement that is suggested, so they have to prioritize.
How is that best done?
It is best to choose improvements that have a direct or indirect link back to the top goals of the organization. Ask yourself, if we implement this idea, how will our key objectives have been impacted? If you can’t see an impact or can’t figure out what it will be, perhaps another opportunity for improvement should be selected.
Get Everyone Involved
Some people will be naturally more inclined to participate in improvement work than others, but it is important to get everyone as involved as possible.
The first step is to demonstrate that leadership values the ideas of employees and recognizes that not all positive change starts in the C-suite.
Chances are good that there are people on your teams who know how to tackle some of the biggest challenges. The trick is to encourage and incentivize them to share what they know. Broadcasting success when it happens to the entire organization is a good best practice for spreading improvement.
Physical idea boards are inexpensive, easy to implement, and effective. They are also only available during work hours, limited by geography, and extremely insecure. They don’t create a historical record of improvement work, nor do they accelerate improvement by providing proactive alerts and notifications.
Fortunately, digital solutions that don’t have these limitations are available. With a digital idea board, especially one deployed in the cloud, employees can access it anytime, from anywhere and even use the mobile devices they love. Every task and project is captured and available for future review. All associated documents are attached to the project, so everyone has the information they need to act right at their fingertips. Better still, the impact of improvement work can easily be captured so that every person who suggests and works to implement an idea gets full credit for contributing to positive change.
You may think that an idea board is such a simple thing that people don’t really need training. It is true that a physical or digital idea board should be pretty easy to use, but that’s only part of the equation. People need to understand the context and have insight into how improvement projects work in the organization. They need to know when they should suggest an idea, how it will be evaluated and who will decide whether to act. They should be introduced to any tools or techniques, like PDSA, Standard Work, value stream mapping, or others that will be used to make the change successful.
Hold More Effective Meetings
The idea board, especially a digital one that is available to both on-site and remote employees, is a great platform for your daily, weekly, or monthly meetings. Each idea on the board can be discussed and the information can be updated in real-time.
Who needs to waste time creating slide presentations for meetings when all you need to do is share your idea board displays? What better way to keep your eye on the prize and ensure that your meetings don’t get off track?
Everyone knows the old saying, “That which gets measured improves.” If you want to improve employee engagement with improvement, the thing to do is measure it. The great news is that people tend to take ownership of ideas that they suggest whether it’s the initial opportunity for improvement or subsequent thoughts on how to solve a problem.
The more active people are in improvement work, the more likely they are to hold themselves accountable for success. It’s a great idea to include your idea board in employee performance evaluations. This is another reason that a digital board is best, you can look back at the employee’s work over the entire quarter or year.
Idea boards are great, but the continuous improvement mindset says they could always be better. Hopefully, we’ve given you some ideas about where to start.