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Put Your Suggestion Box Online to Help Avoid Becoming The Office?

Posted by Matt Banna

Feb 3, 2020 10:40:48 AM

If the internet is any clue, I’m not the only one who was prompted by its 10th anniversary to re-watch a bunch of old episodes of The Office.

(For fans, there’s a great new podcast called Office Ladies featuring Jenna Fischer (Pam) and Angela Kinsey (Angela). They walk through each episode sharing the inside scoop.)

There’s an episode during the second season in which Dunder Mifflin Paper Company’s branch manager, Michael Scott, learns that his boss is coming for a visit later that day to hear his ideas on how to make the branch perform better.

Of course, he’s Michael Scott, so he has no idea how to make the branch perform better. In a panic, he remembers that there is a suggestion box for collecting employee ideas for improvement. He figures that is the solution to his situation. He calls all of the employees into the conference room and opens the box.

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Topics: Innovation Software, Suggestion Systems, Improvement Culture

Does Putting Your Employee Suggestion Box Online Help?

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Jun 12, 2019 8:21:00 AM

These days just about everything is online and connected. I got a new emersion circulator to make sous vied meals; it’s controlled by an app on my phone. That’s awesome. It’s no wonder that HR leaders in almost every industry are looking for ways to move previously analog tasks into the digital age. The employee suggestion box is no exception. There are a bunch of ways to put it online from software built for that purpose to anonymous surveys and submission forms. But does it help? Does moving the suggestion box to the cloud result in better ideas? Do employees feel more heard?

For the leaders we’ve spoken with, the answer is no. Removing the steps of walking to a box, jotting down the suggestion, and dropping it in often does result in more suggestions initially. Requiring specific fields to be completed can increase the quality of the recommendations in the beginning, but the improvements are generally short-lived. People soon begin to ignore the link or icon, just like they ignored the physical box.

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Topics: Suggestion Systems

The Truth About Electronic Suggestion Boxes

Posted by Noah Paratore

Apr 17, 2019 2:07:17 PM

There are lies people tell for selfish or malicious reasons. They come up in business from time to time, but far more common are fairytales that are told out of a desire for the fiction to be true. Sometimes folks think if they repeat something often enough, it will become fact. We believe that’s the reason for so many of the myths we hear about the electronic suggestion box. Lots of people (and vendors) sing their praises, but we’ve yet to find an organization that was transformed after implementing a way to collect anonymous employee ideas. Here are a few reality checks.

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Topics: Suggestion Systems, Continuous Improvement Software

How Digital Idea Boards Accelerate Innovation

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 16, 2018 4:31:20 PM

We’ve written before about the reasons that traditional suggestion boxes rarely result in lasting positive change. The biggest problem is that they are just a passive receptacle for employee ideas without any structure for ensuring that every suggestion is evaluated and many are implemented. Fortunately, there is a modern alternative that is helping companies in every industry achieve continuous daily improvement and even a few breakthrough ideas. Digital idea boards are the ideal alternative to suggestion boxes or improvement spreadsheets.

Here’s how they make innovation happen faster.

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Topics: Innovation Software, Suggestion Systems, Daily Lean Management, Improvement Culture, Spread Continuous Improvement, Continuous Improvement Software

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.

Listen to this Post or Subscribe to the Podcast:

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

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