Identify, Act, Resolve, Recognize!
Imagine if your boss stood up at your next company meeting and challenged you to create a suggestion system to harness the collective knowledge of every employee. Where would you start? How would you ensure that your people buy in and that you build something that actually improves your organization? And how do you keep your suggestion system from morphing into the dreaded repository of complaints and gripes?
No system is foolproof, but here are four key concepts for you to remember as you embark on your journey:
Make it easy for people to add their ideas to your suggestion system. You’ll want to make sure that your system looks simple and clean, and you should strongly resist the urge to capture too much information from employees. Your goal should be to maximize the number of ideas your staff submit, and while the extra information may seem important to you, participation will dwindle if you ask too much from your busy staff. Keep it simple! A little extra care at this stage can have a big impact later.
Once an idea is submitted, it’s important to act upon it right away. People want to know that their input matters and that their ideas have merit. In addition, they want to be kept in the loop as the work happens, so make them part of the process as much as possible. In fact, within KaiNexus, over 75% of all opportunities for improvement are assigned back to the person who had the original idea. I can’t think of a better way to make sure people buy in to improvement work, can you?
If you actually implemented a change, it stands to reason that the original idea made an impact on your organization. Make sure you capture the change, and whenever possible you should tie it back to a strategic business objective. Categorizing results in a visible, transparent way is the single best method to convince managers that continuous improvement work really matters.
Figure out a way to identify and reward the employees who offer the best suggestions. It doesn’t have to be much. In fact, Masaaki Imai often describes the use of a simple pen to signify true appreciation to employees for a job well done. What matters is that the company is listening and that they celebrate the behaviors they want to reinforce.
One last thing. Make sure you develop a plan to roll out your new suggestion system and teach people how to use it. Even the best technology won’t do any good if you can’t convince people to actually use it. We saw this when Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano joined us in implementing the KaiNexus solution in their organization. They were able to build momentum by training a core group of internal champions, and this team helped to convince others of the benefits of the KaiNexus platform.
Employees everywhere are full of great ideas on how to make their organizations better. Smart companies will figure out a way to give them a voice and help them to make a real difference.
Have an idea about how else you could turn your suggestion system into a true platform for continuous improvement? Leave a comment!