Sitting in an audience of well over 200 team members in a production facility, I was enjoying being a participant of this team meeting. The sessions included all types of engaged presentations on various topics, such as individual/team accomplishments, reports on what was coming up, progress updates on various projects, safety statistics, and process changes to improve product quality. They also had people share team member appreciation, team sports events and charity events they had worked on as a team.
After the meeting, it struck me that the few critical issues that had arisen during the meeting could have been easily advanced by utilizing the creativity of the people in the room. This lean enterprise had developed a range of valuable practices around 5S, visual management, problem solving, daily huddles and employee engagement.
What they had yet to do was learn how to optimize access to the creative solutions of their team members.
In reality, no problem exists where well over 200 people can’t suggest profoundly helpful improvements. For example, this organization, along with many others, is facing challenges hiring new employees in what is a relatively tight job market. Yet, if you were to ask the over 200 people about their ideas on how to find high quality candidates, you’d get a list as long as your arm.
As is always the case, some ideas are more valuable than others. However, surely, there would be some winners in the bunch. I once worked in an organization that simply passed out an idea card to each person in the meeting with one request for ideas about a specific topic. At each town hall meeting, we would move forward with another list of new ideas. This is just one example, but there are certainly many others.
Next month, I’ll be sharing an interview about the power of utilizing ideas with Alan G. Robinson, coauthor of the books, Ideas Are Free and The Idea-Driven Organization. Our conversation focuses on both the value of accessing ideas and how organizations can implement this practice as part of their improvement efforts.
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