There are a few fundamental principles that organizations dedicated to daily, incremental improvement seem to share. They believe that every employee can contribute to positive change and that opportunities for improvement can be found by anyone. They know that not all improvement needs to be revolutionary or involve a major investment. And they agree that team members who engage in improvement should be recognized and rewarded.
In many organizations, one artifact of these beliefs is the idea board. We’re big fans of idea boards, but we’d like to suggest one way to make them even more useful.
Visual Management is Great
Physical idea boards were invented to visualize the progress of improvement work. Many teams use them as a way to focus a daily conversation about improvement projects in which the team gathers around the board and discusses progress and any impediments to work in progress.
There are some big advantages of the approach. The visual nature of an idea board makes it easy for everyone to quickly understand the current state of each idea. They also enable team collaboration and keep improvement efforts top-of-mind.
There’s a lot to like, but also a few nagging questions.
- How is work that happens in more than one place addressed?
- What about employees who travel or work remotely?
- How do you track the results of completed improvements over the long-run?
- How do you capture the history of each improvement and learn from past successes and failures?
- How do executives track the state of improvement across the entire organization?
Virtual Visual Management is Better
Paper idea boards don’t supply many good answers to these questions. Fortunately, digital idea boards address all of these issues and more. By putting the idea board in the cloud, obstacles to participation and collaboration are eliminated.
Your team gets all of the benefits to visualized improvement work without the limitations that come with physical boards.
- Teams can work together on improvement projects even if they don’t work in the same area or building.
- Remote workers can engage equally and actively participate without missing out on communication
- You can track the results of improvement projects over the long run and apply and measure key performance indicators
- The details of each project are captured so that the collective wisdom of the organization grows with each improvement. Best practices are identified, and dead ends are avoided.
- Executive leaders have an easy way to monitor and report on the improvement work going on throughout the entire organization, making it easy for them to recognize and reward people and teams that contribute to positive change.
Idea boards are a reflection of the best impulses of companies with an improvement culture. But just like any other process, they can always be improved. Taking them digital is a huge step toward increasing their effectiveness and laying the groundwork for structured improvement that gets results.