This post is part of a series on Employee Suggestion Programs within the context of continuous improvement or lean manufacturing. In previous posts, I covered the following:
And today, I’ll address how to Manage Idea Generation by proposing 4 major questions to ask that will provide a good overall guide for assessing the health of your suggestion program.
As you design or are thinking about your current Employee Suggestion Program, ask these questions:
Our suggestion program. . .
1. Can handle ___ incoming suggestions per month
Think about the volume of incoming suggestions that will come from your employees. If there are not proper self-selection criteria built into the suggestion form itself, you will find the volume of incoming suggestions to be very overwhelming. When this happens, morale will wane and support will decrease or altogether go away for the program. So, be thoughtful about how you will manage the incoming number of suggestions.
2. With a response time of ___ days
This question is related to the first. We all know from Queueing Theory and Little’s Law that the length of the line is a function of both cycle time and inter-arrival rate of the incoming suggestion cards. In other words,
- Cycle Time: The time it takes for management to respond to the suggestion.
- Inter-arrival Rate: The rate at which incoming suggestion cards enter the system.
3. And an implementation of ___% within ___ days
This is related to question 2. Except, the difference here is not about responding to the employee that provided the suggestion, but it is in the implementation of the suggestion itself.
4. With a total annual savings of ___ or ___ per person per year
While this is not a criteria of selection, this question is more focused on the results. In some instances, the employee suggestion will center on cost savings. But this will differ in context and in the goals of the enterprise.
5. or ___ number of new products were developed generating ___ in revenue
For other firms, some suggestion cards will lead to the possible development of new products.