We’ve had lots of great conversations with our clients over the last few weeks about the successes they’ve seen in 2018 and their plans to make 2019 even better. We are often asked what additional continuous improvement techniques we would recommend that they add in the new year to further challenge the team and maximize the impact of positive change.
One that we recommend to everyone who isn’t already using it is an online idea board. Even organizations that currently use a physical idea board can benefit immensely by taking the concept online. Here are the top 10 reasons we’re so confident that a digital idea board is the right way to go.
1. It is accessible, anytime from anywhere
When you implement an online idea board, you take all of the friction out of submitting or working on opportunities for improvement. People who spend time working away from the office can participate as if they were sitting right there. I don’t know about you, but sometimes my best ideas hit me when I’m driving home from work or singing in the shower. With an online idea board your team doesn’t have to remember to submit the thought the next time they are in the office, they can do it right away. The best digital boards even have mobile applications to make it even easier.
2. Online boards support cross-functional collaboration
Solving problems and implementing solutions is a team sport. Physical idea boards create barriers to people from multiple departments or physical locations working together. With an online idea board, everyone can pitch in and collaborate regardless of where they sit on the org chart or in the building. Processes can be more easily improved a the hand-off points between groups, which is where many problems arise.
3. Alerts trigger action
One of the most significant benefits of taking your idea board online is that it can drive engagement. Users can set up real-time alerts and notifications so that everyone knows when a task is assigned when something is due, or when a deadline passes without action. Every time a new idea is submitted, the proper people are notified so that an immediate assessment takes place. This helps improve engagement because employees know that when they share their opportunities for improvement, someone will be made aware of it.
4. Impact can be measured
Measuring the effect of submitted ideas is the best way to shore up executive support for continuous improvement. When you can present your results concerning business goals like cost reduction, customer satisfaction, and quality, you are more likely to win the resources and investment you need to spread continuous improvement. It’s not just executives who care about results; the employees who submit ideas and execute them need to know how their efforts are paying off. Online idea boards help you measure the impact of each implemented improvement over the long-term so that you understand the one-time and continuing ROI of every project.
5. It helps you broadcast success
If you sense that improving employee engagement is a thread that runs through many of these advantages of online boards, you are correct. Perhaps one of the most important capabilities is the ability to broadcast success. Built-in employee recognition supports leaders in their effort to recognize and reward the people who are dedicated to positive change. Success broadcasting is not just good for the employee who is acknowledged, but also for others who may learn from what was achieved.
6. Each idea contributes to tribal knowledge
One of the things that make us sad about physical idea boards is that after a project is completed, it gets removed from the board, making it either un- or less- accessible to the team. The beauty of the online approach is that every idea lives forever. All of the information is captured in a searchable database that can be used to make further improvement work even more effective. Even the ideas that are rejected are captured along with the reason they weren’t implemented. They might not be right for today, but perfect for a later time.
7. They offer a unique view for each person
Organizations consist of people with many different roles. Some folks may be keenly interested in just one area of the business or a limited set of improvement initiatives, while others may need a broader view into what is happening across the entire organization. Online boards can be configured to display what is relevant to each person and to give leaders several different views if needed.
8. You can set a standard
If you are interested in continuous improvement, you likely understand the necessity of Standard work. Your improvement efforts can benefit as much from standardization as your other processes. An online idea board creates a consistent approach to capturing ideas, managing projects and producing reports.
9. Meetings take on more meaning
It is common practice to gather the team around a physical idea board for a daily or weekly chat about the state of current projects. (Idea boards are sometimes called “huddle” boards.) This works for people who are in the room, but it omits interested parties who aren’t standing right there. Move the board into the cloud and - presto! Everyone who should be involved in the meeting can participate remotely via conference call and still have access to the same information as the folks in the building.
The turn of the year is a great time for analysis and reflection. Why not kick yours off by reminding employees how important their ideas are to the success of the organization and giving them a painless way to contribute?