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Think Outside the Electronic Suggestion Box

Posted by Kade Jansson

Aug 7, 2017 9:48:43 AM

Employee suggestion boxes have been around for… well, we have no idea, so we’ll go with… ever. On some level, business leaders instinctually know that their employees might have terrific ideas on how to improve the business. After all, they are usually the ones who have the closest contact with products, customers, and workspaces. Collecting their suggestions is an inherently good idea so someone, way back when, stuck a box on the wall, labeled it “Suggestions,” and probably patted himself on the back. Of course, it’s 2017, so now there’s an app for that, and the suggestion box has gone electronic.

But although collecting employee ideas for improvement is an outstanding idea (and, we’d argue, a necessary one) and many organizations use some sort of electronic suggestion box tool, people often tell us that they lead to disappointment for both leaders and employees.

Here’s why.

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Topics: Suggestion Systems

Electronic Suggestion Box – Sounds Like a Good Idea … But

Posted by Kade Jansson

Feb 15, 2017 8:01:00 AM

We’re in the continuous improvement business, so it isn’t surprising that we sometimes talk to HR managers and other leaders who have been sold on the idea that an electronic suggestion box is the way to gather employee ideas for improvement. Physical suggestion boxes have been around probably as long as there have been businesses, so why not modernize the approach by making it digital?

We applaud any attempt to get front-line employees involved in improvement, but our clients have told us that electronic suggestion boxes are not an effective way to capitalize on the collective wisdom of the team. Why? Largely because they don’t go far enough in turning thought into action.

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Here’s where they break down.

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Topics: Suggestion Systems

Electronic Suggestion Boxes Don’t Work. Here’s What Does.

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Nov 15, 2016 8:39:00 AM

As a team of people focused on helping organizations support continuous improvement with cloud-based tools you might think that we’d be big fans of electronic suggestion boxes. But while we applaud the spirit behind the approach, we know there is a better way.

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Topics: Suggestion Systems

How’s Your Suggestion Box Working Out for You?

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Jul 11, 2016 9:55:16 AM

If you are delighted with the results you are getting from your suggestion box approach to finding employee ideas for improvement, congratulations! You are a unicorn.

If you are like most organizations, however, you’ve had only lackluster results and few real improvements as a result of your suggestion box. It’s not your fault. It’s the approach that’s flawed, not you or your employees.

Here’s why.

 

It only does one thing and it’s not very good at that.

A suggestion box is a way to gather employee ideas for improvement. If you have a physical suggestion box hanging on the wall somewhere, think about the barriers to submitting an idea. The employee must be in the office, with a pen, and a piece of paper, and have the time and inclination to mosey over and drop in their thoughts. An electronic suggestion box certainly makes it easier but falls victim to the other flaws noted below. Collecting employee ideas for improvement is an important thing to do, but it is only the first step.

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Topics: Suggestion Systems, Improvement Culture

Tips From the Pros for a Successful Suggestion System Launch

Posted by Maggie Millard

Mar 21, 2016 11:11:21 AM

If your organization has decided to launch a suggestion system to capture employee ideas, congratulations! This is big step on the path to continuous improvement.

The decisions you make moving forward will have a lasting impact on the success of your improvement culture.

Sadly, we’ve seen more than a few instances of organizations that attempt to take this road, but fail to achieve results because the suggestion system never really takes hold in the organization. Fortunately, we’ve also been able to observe what the most successful organizations do to ensure that employees embrace the approach, and are going to share some of those behaviors with you now.

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Topics: Suggestion Systems

Electronic Suggestion Boxes... An Exercise in Futility?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Feb 3, 2016 1:19:51 PM

Dr. Ethan Burris, a Professor at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, has spent many years researching employee engagement, the impact of managers on employee engagement, and idea systems.

His research has been featured on our blog a few times in the past, and we were lucky enough to score him as a Keynote at our 2015 User Conference. We really admire his work, and needless to say, we were pretty excited when he reached out to us about his latest Harvard Business Review article entitled "Employee Suggestion Schemes Don't Have to Be An Exercise in Futility." 

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Topics: Suggestion Systems

What Millennials Think of Your Electronic Suggestion Box

Posted by Maggie Millard

Jan 8, 2016 10:35:30 AM

Do you ever wish that you could read the minds of your employees? This would be an especially great trick when trying to understand the mindset of workers in a younger generation. There are many thoughts and feelings that employees are reluctant to share. Mind reading would be useful  - potentially terrifying, but useful.

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Topics: Suggestion Systems

Does Making Your Suggestion Box Electronic Make it Better?

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Oct 7, 2015 11:14:00 AM

Almost every business process is better when it’s digital. You wouldn’t create your P&L statement on ledger paper or keep your sales contacts in a Rolodex. So it stands to reason that the dusty suggestion box in the break room should go the way of the dial-up modem. Right?

Wrong. The fundamental reason that most suggestion boxes fail to generate innovative ideas that produce results isn’t because they are analog. Simply recreating something in digital form isn’t what makes it better.

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Topics: Suggestion Systems

The Relationship Between a Pirate and an Electronic Suggestion Box

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Sep 10, 2015 6:00:00 AM

One of the most iconic dastardly deeds associated with pirates is the act of making someone walk the plank. With each step the poor blindfolded victim with his hands tied moves closer to his doom. Using an electronic suggestion box is a bit like making your employees walk the plank. I’ll explain.

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Topics: Suggestion Systems

Think an Electronic Suggestion Box Will Lead to Improvement? Think Again.

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 13, 2015 7:43:00 AM

These days lots of the things that we used to do in the “real world” have moved to the internet. In many cases the electronic solution simply recreates the old way of doing things online. Ordering pizza is a good example. You can now order a pizza online. That’s pretty cool, and it’s slightly less hassle than calling it in. However, the people on the other end of the process still must roll out the dough, add the ingredients, cook the thing and transport it over to your house. If you’ve ordered one in the last few years, you probably agree that online ordering did not improve the quality of your pizza.

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Topics: Suggestion Systems, Employee Engagement

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