Making a suggestion sounds like the most natural thing in the world. If it is, why do we have such a large problem in our companies both getting suggestions and if we do get them, having the suggestions implemented? My belief is that like most bottlenecks in companies, getting suggestions and implementing involves setting up systems that will support this activity.
Here are three things you might want to consider if you decide a suggestion program is important for your company:
Your organization must be aligned to support and not resist ideas. If you want suggestions to make your company better, find ways to adopt ideas, not reject them. It’s too easy to say things like, “we’ve tried that before or it won’t work here.” Instead think about how you can implement the idea.
If after thinking about implementation and you can’t use the idea, it becomes important that you coach the person who made the suggestion on things they could have done to have their suggestion adopted. If a suggestion is not useable that means you have a coaching moment where you can help your employee learn from doing it incorrectly.
Make sure there are no bottlenecks around getting suggestions implemented. You want to have a system in place where suggestions are reviewed as quickly as possible. If it takes more than 48 hours to review a suggestion you will find your suggestions will decrease.
It’s important that you find ways to have suggestions reviewed and then implemented fast; the faster the better. Most of the suggestions you receive can be tested on the spot. To have a successful suggestion program you must be willing to allow people make decisions about whether the suggestion should or should not be implemented.
Have suggestions analyzed and implemented at the lowest possible levels in your organization. If all suggestions have to be analyzed by senior management and ownership you will never get around to implementing the suggestions. Instead, have your suggestions reviewed at the lowest possible levels.
If you communicate that you’re looking for small ideas more than big ones you will find the ideas come fast and furiously. When the ideas are small there should be no reason why direct supervisors can’t review and give the green light for implementation.
You will want to make sure that you have a system for reviewing suggestions that aren’t implemented. Suggestion programs often fail because those responsible for approving and implementing suggestions don’t want to do extra work or are change adverse. Both will make your suggestion program less successful than it could be.
What are your thoughts about who to implement a successful suggestion system? It really is important that you re-think how information and ideas are generated in your company. Getting everyone involved will make your company better.
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