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Cutting Costs and Capturing New Ideas
By Gregory P. Smith, President, Chart Your Course International

Management's greatest concern should be, "Who has the best ideas and how can we get them?" How many times have you asked employees for their ideas and suggestions and got nothing more than blank stares and shrugged shoulders?

Management's greatest concern should be, "Who has the best ideas and how can we get them?" How many times have you asked employees for their ideas and suggestions and got nothing more than blank stares and shrugged shoulders? Is the only thing you find in your suggestion boxes trash and cobwebs? Don't feel alone, this is normal for most American businesses.

Peter E. Drucker said,

"One has to assume, first, that the individual human being at work knows better than anyone else what makes him or her more productive...even in routine work the only true expert is the person who does the job."

Recently, an organization I worked with conducted a little known concept called, an Idea Campaign. In just three weeks this organization captured over 500 new ideas from the workforce. At the end of the campaign, they had concrete ideas on how to improve productivity, cut costs and improve motivation.

The Idea Campaign concept is a revolutionary way of capturing new ideas and improving employee involvement. They are an exciting, fun and streamlined version of the traditional employee suggestion program. The major difference between this and other employee involvement programs is that there is a direct bottom line result. The campaign is the best way of getting hundreds of ideas from the workforce quickly. They have been used by many organizations and recently by Eglin Air Force Base.

At Eglin the campaign ran for two weeks where both civilian and military personnel were asked to submit ideas that could reduce waste and inefficiency or increase productivity. Eglin received a tremendous surprise when workers generated $400,000 worth of cost savings ideas and new ways to generate revenue. Harley-Davidson ran a similar program saving $3,000,000 in one 30 day program. The U.S. Park Service made over 12,000 suggestions with an approval rate of 75 percent. These are only a few of the organizations discovering tremendous results.

The goal is to get at least one idea from everyone in the organization. For the first idea, each person receives a custom designed coffee cup. The second idea is rewarded with a writing pen. In addition, each week there is a special award ceremony to recognize everyone's ideas. At the end of the celebration management randomly draw names from a basket for one of several prizes. Other award items like baseball caps, gold rimmed coffee mugs, books and medallions can be provided. However, the most coveted prize was a reserved parking space in front of the building.

Bottom-Line Results With most suggestion programs results are slow in coming and the really good ideas get screened out. On the other hand, idea campaigns take a different twist. All ideas are recognized and all suggestors receive instantaneous recognition. The vendor provides all materials, awards and the instructions.



Gregory P. Smith, author of The New Leader, and How to Attract, Keep and Motivate Your Workforce. He speaks at conferences, leads seminars and helps organizations solve problems. He leads an organization called Chart Your Course International located in Conyers, Georgia. Phone him at (770)860-9464 or email greg@chartcourse.com. More information is available at http://www.chartcourse.com.

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