Got Ideas? They Make For Great Return on Investment

By on June 19, 2014
Lean Idea Board in Action

Good ideas from employees are turning into great return on investments.

It all starts and ends with a good idea. An employee posts an idea on the company’s new Lean Idea Board following a Kaizen thinking training session. The company acts upon the employee’s posted idea. The idea generates $81,250 in additional revenue during the first three months of being implemented. Over a year that will be $325,000! Wow, that is significant and all from an initial investment of $8,000 for employee training. The power of one good idea and the tremendous return on investment it drives.

That tremendous return on investment is being realized by a business client that contracted with the Workforce Solution Group to train employees in Kaizen thinking. The client company is experiencing the powerful impact of Kaizen thinking and the elegantly simple power of the Idea Board.

As I said it all starts and ends with a good idea. Actually, it is more like a chain reaction of good ideas that culminates in a company seeing a significant return on investment. The first good idea comes from the leadership of a company that sees the value in engaging and investing in their employees. The second good idea is the company’s monetary investment in training their employees in continuous improvement principles. (Shameless plug moment – third good idea the company acted upon was selecting the Workforce Solutions Group as their training partner.)

Through training in Lean and Kaizen thinking, employees become engaged and empowered which in turn fuels the multiplying of good ideas. This powerful chain reaction of good ideas is ignited and sustained through a process called the Idea Board.

Introduced by David Mann in his book “Creating a Lean Culture” the Idea Board is an elegantly simple but tremendously powerful tool for driving employee engagement. According to Mann, 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.

The Workforce Solutions Group produced a highly successful (over 5,600 views to date) YouTube video titled Use the Idea Board for Lean Manufacturing Success in 2012, in which employees from Hydromat Incorporated, GSI Diversified and Rug Doctor talk about how the Idea Board has motivated employees to get actively involved in looking critically and creatively at lean processes.

Some positive impacts of the Idea Board from this video include:

“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.”
Kevin Meehan, COO, Hydromat & Edge Technologies, 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.”
Schubert Pereira, VP Manufacturing & R&D, Rug Doctor, 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.”
Amanda Tully, GSI Diversified, 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.”
Gary Mullins, Rug Doctor, 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.”
Ed Humble, Hydromat & Edge Technologies, 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.”
Beth Gygax, Rug Doctor, 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.”
Tammy Rogers, Rug Doctor, 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.”
Joe Manzella, Hydromat & Edge Technologies, Inc.

“My idea was a visual board in the stock room for our truck shipments.”
Gary Mullins, Rug Doctor, 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.”
Douglas Reed, GSI Diversified, 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.”
Jim Leftridge, Rug Doctor, 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.”
Brandywine Andrews, Lean Coordinator, Rug Doctor, 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.”
Schubert Pereira, Rug Doctor, Inc.

So what are you waiting for? Your ideas are ready to go. I bet you thought of a good idea as you read this blog; one that just might show a great return on investment. Your co-workers and/or employees are also ready to share all of their good ideas. Contact George Friesen at 314-303-0612 to talk about putting all of these good ideas to work for you through the power of Kaizen thinking and your own Idea Board.

About Shayna Howell

Shayna was the Client Development Manager in the Workforce Solutions Group of St Louis Community College. She has over 20 years of experience in the Community College system in training and development, project management, program/course development, grant writing/administration and marketing.

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