Thursday, April 3, 2008

Seek small ideas – not big ones

As an organisation do you encourage your employees to suggest ideas for improving your business? If you don’t have a formal process by which ideas can be submitted and assessed, then chances are you are going to miss out on some very valuable information that is freely available.
Some recent research by Alan G. Robinson and Dean M. Schroeder which investigated the idea systems in over 150 companies in 17 countries came to the surprising conclusion that high performing companies go after lots of small ideas while low performing companies tend to go after big ones.

Why go after small ideas rather than big ones in an idea capture programme?
1. It can give your company a competitive advantage in the market place
Small ideas are more difficult to copy by competitors than big ones. Competitors may not be aware of small ideas where they will be aware of big initiatives (the grapevine of suppliers etc.)
Small ideas tend to be more company specific. Only work in the company they were generated in (e.g. Vidette Times – Indiana, USA (printing press rolls)
2. It can bring about performance excellence
Excellence is about getting details right it is about attention to detail. In a homogenous marketplace this is what separates companies from one other.
It is workers, not managers who can spot these inefficiencies
3. Small ideas lead to big things
Most big ideas start off small
Small ideas can help identify where there are problems that need to be addressed. Big problems frequently manifest themselves through a host of smaller signs or symptoms
When an idea is generated, ask
· Where else can this be used in the company?
· What are the patterns of the idea? I.e. are the small ideas all pointing toward a bigger problem?
4. It encourages employees and makes them feel heard
The research suggests that employees do not necessarily seek financial reward, and indeed offering it can cause problems such as who originally had the idea!

Setting up an idea capture programme
The difficulty with having many small ideas is that they can be difficult to capture and organise. Unless each idea if considered and processed, then employees will become disillusioned with the process. Client Solutions has developed an application that can help with the capture, review and approval of ideas from a multitude of sources. If this is something that would be of interest to you, then why not get in touch with us, we would love to show you what we have done in this space.

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