Big Value from Small Ideas

Do your employees offer ideas for improving the way their jobs are done? Are they even comfortable with the idea of making suggestions?

Your organizational culture influences how your employees will actually participate. If you welcome input, you’ll receive it. If you say you welcome it, but poke holes in their ideas, people will retreat to their cubicles. If you say you welcome it and do nothing with the ideas, they won’t take you seriously.

But if you welcome input and actually do something with it, you’ll awaken much more from your staff.

Your people have many good ideas that they don’t even realize could be valuable to their co-workers. As a leader, your willingness to solicit and try out these ideas could be a game changer.

Try it out in your organization, and keep in mind a few simple ground rules: (1) Encourage small ideas; (2) Thank people for their contributions; (3) Share the ideas with team members; and (4) Circle back and disclose how it worked.

When you encourage people to suggest ideas, you’ll find that nearly everyone has something to contribute. They’re likely to offer more when they see that you’re willing to accept and try out their suggestions.

That’s it. The simpler the idea, the more likely you’ll have a positive outcome. This is the one of the principles behind the Japanese concept of kaizen, which refers to processes of continuous improvement. Kaizen has been a successful principle because big results emerge as a result of small changes over time.

When leaders try to make big, wholesale changes, it’s very difficult to successfully implement without tremendous disruption. Smaller, more discrete changes, on the other hand, are more easily adopted. People see a positive impact much quicker, and will be more likely to embrace other small changes.

I’d like to hear how this works for you, so please feel free to email me with your success stories.

Have a great week!

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