Use the Idea Board for Lean Manufacturing Success

By on October 10, 2012

Nothing is more crucial to the success of Lean manufacturing than employee engagement. The successful implementation of Lean literally depends upon driving continually higher levels of employee engagement. In his book, “Creating a Lean Culture,” David Mann describes an elegantly simple but incredibly powerful tool for driving employee engagement called the Idea Board. This short video contains interviews of employees at Hydromat and Edge Technologies, RugDoctor, and GSI Diversified talking about the ways in which the Idea Board has served as a powerful driver of change.

The primary messages conveyed to all Creating A Lean Culture by David Mannemployees by the Idea Board are that: 1) my company highly values my intelligence and creativity and 2) I need to examine the way work happens in my area, defining ways in which wasted time and motion detract from our productivity and profitability and posting my observations on the Idea Board. These concepts are at the heart of Lean manufacturing as first taught by Henry Ford and developed by Taiichi Ohno.

We would like to talk with you about ways of using this very powerful tool of lean manufacturing as well as others in a way that will increase your productivity and profitability. Please call me, George Friesen (gfriesen@stlcc.edu), at 314-303-0612 and let’s talk.

Watch Video

What is an idea?

By definition an idea is a “thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action.”

But what if you had nowhere to put that idea? What would happen to it? Would it be lost forever?

Introducing the “Idea Board.”

But how does it work?

  1. Put your idea on a Post-It® note.
  2. Place it on the idea board.
  3. Watch your idea move across the board.
  4. Watch your ideas become reality.

Simple right? An idea you see from start to finish. Now that’s a good idea!

Want to learn more? Meet George. He works for the Workforce Solutions Group of St. Louis Community College. And he’ll take it from here.

Hi, this is George Friesen, Business Practice Leader for Lean manufacturing at St. Louis Community College. About seven years ago, I read a book called “Creating A Lean Culture” by David Mann, a tremendously valuable resource for any company implementing lean processes. In this book Mann describes a really elegantly simple, but tremendously powerful, process called the idea board. You’re going to be hearing individuals from three of our clients – Hydromat Incorporated, GSI Diversified, and RugDoctor talk about the way in which it’s motivated employees to get actively involved in looking critically and creatively at lean work processes, a truly powerful tool. Let’s hear from these employees as they talk about the idea board.

Kevin Meehan, Chief Operating Officer, Hydromat & Edge Technologies, Inc.: “What’s great about the idea board, from what we have seen at Hydromat and Edge Technologies, is that everybody is really able to see the progress of their ideas and see at what stage their ideas are.”

Beth Gygax, RugDoctor, Inc: “It’s not just a suggestion box where you stuff it with ideas, it’s very clear and open so that other people can see what your ideas are too.”

Russell Andert, Hydromat & Edge Technologies, Inc.: “Simplicity, I think is what the Post-It® note brings to the idea board. You can move it around, you can change it, if you don’t like something you wrote up there you can take it down, you can reword it.”

Ed Humble, Hydromat & Edge Technologies, Inc.: “If you do think of something it’s very easy to put up there, and you do get to see it. You get to see it go from here’s an idea, to we’re working on it, no we’re not working on it, or moving it to finished. You actually get a sense of progress.”

Michael Friend, Operations Manager, GSI Diversified, Inc.: “As you can see we have had several ideas come to us initially, and I think it has worked out great.”

Schubert Pereira, VP Manufacturing & R&D, RugDoctor, Inc.: “It’s been huge for employee engagement so to speak. I know employee engagement is a clichéd term, but right now we have people actively thinking about what they are doing, how they are doing their work.”

Gary Mullins, RugDoctor, Inc.: “People feel more involved – they feel there’s something they can do themselves instead of going to a supervisor or lead. They can get their voice heard.”

Amanda Tully, GSI Diversified, Inc.: “We’ve changed a lot of different areas to different things, so the idea board helped doing that. If we didn’t have it I don’t think the changes would have been made.”

Schubert Pereira, RugDoctor, Inc.: “I’m still maintaining that the employee engagement was the single biggest impact, but just to be sure we track the financial impact and over a year and a half we had over two hundred thousand dollars saved by ideas specifically coming from the idea board.”

Kevin Meehan, Hydromat & Edge Technologies, Inc.: “Really what the program has done, which I think is important, is that it’s changed people’s way of think about what they do, the activities they partake in, and they’re thinking more in terms of how I do it better, how do I do it more efficiently.”

Gary Mullins, RugDoctor, Inc.: “My idea was a visual board in the stock room for our truck shipments.”

Douglas Reed, GSI Diversified, Inc.: “We built a skid wrapper so that they don’t have to walk around skids, you can set it on there and wrap it.”

Jim Leftridge, RugDoctor, Inc.: “One change for us in the shipping department is the cardboard used to come in on the floor double stacked, which related to a lot of physical work, and it also presented a problem putting it on pallets as we had to do it in house. Now since it comes in it’s taken our unloading time down from an hour and a half to less than twenty minutes.”

Brandywine Andrews, Lean Coordinator, RugDoctor, Inc.: “To understand that their ideas are important to the success of the company, no matter how small or how large I’ve seen it and I believe in it.”

Tammy Rogers, RugDoctor, Inc.: “I know it has made our area work better and help everyone work as a team together and not separate departments because everyone can help solve the problem.”

Joe Manzella, Hydromat & Edge Technologies, Inc.: “We’ve already seen a couple of changes on the floor, so hopefully to keep on improving, and hopefully more ideas are posted on the idea board so we can see more changes.”

What you have heard speaks loud and clear about the way in which the idea board drives higher levels of employee engagement and creativity.

We would like to talk with you about ways of using this very powerful tool of lean manufacturing as well as others in a way that will increase your productivity and profitability. Please call me, George Friesen, at 314-303-0612 and let’s talk. Thank you very much.

About George Friesen

George Friesen serves as Business Practice Leader - Lean Manufacturing for the Workforce Solutions Group of St. Louis Community College. He has led the College's Lean business practice area since 2000. Prior to joining the College, George worked for Maritz Performance Improvement Company. Over the past 35 years, he has served a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies, specializing during the past eleven years in Lean Manufacturing, focusing especially on the 5S System, Lean leadership and thinking processes, Value Stream Mapping, and Lean team building. George is a graduate of Washington University (AB), Webster University (MA), and United States Air Force Flight Training.

15 Comments

  1. Pingback: Workforce Development News – October 15, 2012 | Workforce Solutions Group | St. Louis Community College

  2. Pingback: Lean Thinking and Acting Sells Blueberries | Workforce Solutions Group | St. Louis Community College

  3. Pingback: Making Lean Stick – Lean Culture Change Program | Workforce Solutions Group | St. Louis Community College

  4. Pingback: Making Lean Stick – Nobody Ever Asked Me… | Workforce Solutions Group | St. Louis Community College

  5. Pingback: The $8 Million Replacement for a $20 Dollar Fan | Workforce Solutions Group | St. Louis Community College

  6. Pingback: As Long As The Job Gets Done, Does Employee Engagement Matter? | Workforce Solutions Group | St. Louis Community College

  7. Pingback: Respect and Trust: The Key Drivers of Effective Management | Workforce Solutions Group | St. Louis Community College

  8. Pingback: Kaizen Thinking: The Seven Deadly Wastes | Workforce Solutions Group | St. Louis Community College

  9. Pingback: Two Invaluable Lessons from the Frontline | Workforce Solutions Group | St. Louis Community College

  10. Pingback: Got Ideas? They Make For Great Return on Investment | Workforce Solutions Group | St. Louis Community College

  11. Pingback: The Power of Trust | Workforce Solutions Group | St. Louis Community College

  12. Pingback: Thinking is Everybody’s Job | Workforce Solutions Group | St. Louis Community College

  13. Pingback: Three Careers On Their Way To Being Wasted | Workforce Solutions Group | St. Louis Community College

  14. Pingback: Make Every Employee An Owner | Workforce Solutions Group | St. Louis Community College

  15. Pingback: Extracting Fear from the Workplace | Workforce Solutions Group | St. Louis Community College

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *