Welcome Back!  During our last time together, I shared the struggles we faced as an organization gaining participation of associates to share their ideas for improvement.  We provided the training and gave the encouragement, but quickly realized that although we can “tell” them all those things, the proof is in the pudding.

Through a cross-functional team, we began searching other organizations, reading books, and invited Alan Robinson to share thoughts of how we might be able to structure a system around Idea Generation.  Crafting this system came with much thought.  Critical components included:

  • Defining an idea.
  • What is everyone’s role (manager, associate, coordinator)?
  • How do we measure ideas?
  • Do we have a goal?
  • How can we make ideas visual?

The work began and during 2012, the formal system became a reality.  Immediately, we had a surge in participation.  We wanted people’s ideas, and they came.  Why?

  • We provided time and a forum for discussion
  • We made the ideas visible for everyone to see
  • We encouraged “stealing” of ideas – an idea for one department might work in another
  • It wasn’t something nice to do, it was an expectation; everyone’s job description included idea generation
  • A focus on everyone’s strengths was seen – maybe one was better at creating ideas vs. implementing ideas. All were valued

The result?  A workforce that is willing to voice their ideas, become engaged in the processes and celebrate successes.  We recently achieved 25,0000 implemented ideas – yes, we did make a big deal about it!

Learning Moments?

Systems and Definitions are Needed.  Not only is it important to share what we want to do, we have to explain how we are going to do it and WHY it is vital to our success.

Consistent messaging is key.  Always stay focused on what you are trying to achieve, don’t waiver.

Constant messaging is not redundant.   As soon as we stopped talking about ideas, thinking that everyone “gets it”, the engagement and ideas started slacking.  Ideas never get old.  Talk about it all the time.

Got Ideas?  Get Engaged!


ABOUT THIS BLOG POST… This guest blog post comes to us from Susan Kamacho, HR Manager at Gemline. Meet Susan and your lean and HR peers at the Lean People Development Summit, September 11-12, 2017 in beautiful Savannah, GA! See the agenda here.

Susan Kamacho is the Human Resources Manager at Gemline’s company headquarters in Lawrence, MA. Susan has been actively engaged in continuous improvement efforts throughout her career, especially from the training and development perspective.  Creating training programs that focus on consistent on-the-job learning activities as well as integrating new skills into the work environment, Susan has observed the results of moving company cultures to strong engagement communities.  By utilizing continuous improvement tools and philosophies, Gemline’s Human Resource Department continues to integrate process and people into an engaged culture.