Too many organizations today are overly concerned about costs and aren’t focused on other important but often overlooked business objectives, such as process improvement.
Process improvement is vital when it comes to maintaining the efficiency of an organization and saving company resources. Without process improvement, not only are employees more likely to make mistakes, but employees are more disengaged — and according to a 2013 Salary.com survey, employees selected “too many meetings” as being the largest distraction and waste of time in the workplace (19 percent) with the runner-up being inefficient team members (17 percent).Improving how things are done in your organization is key when it comes to engaging employees in the workplace, but it can be hard to generate ideas on your own. We wrote an idea whiteboard post a short while ago about how to obtain ideas from a small team, but today we’re going to change it up a bit and look at what is the best way to have an organization-wide system for capturing, filtering, implementing, and tracking ideas.
What You Need
In order to have an efficient and continuous process improvement system in place, an organization needs:
- A focus (i.e. what processes are you hoping to improve?)
- A platform (i.e. is there an idea management platform available?)
- Leadership support
Management’s first task is to decide which process needs the most focus. For many, tackling processes that will generate the greatest value in your organization’s “Gemba” but won’t be strenuous on company resources will be the best place to start. The Gemba of an organization is where the value of a company lies. For example, if you own a retail store, then your Gemba would be located on the sales floor since that’s where customers select items that they will then purchase. Focusing on these processes will generate the highest return per idea implemented, and could be the easiest to improve as your front-line employees will be able to provide thoughtful process improvement ideas.
Idea Management Platform
When managing a small team, a whiteboard is an effective idea management platform. But when seeking organization-wide ideas or if you have a team of twelve employees or more, software will be necessary to organize and track these ideas. There are a wide variety of features that different idea management platforms offer (i.e. mobile access, notification systems, private feedback, and work items), but the most important feature is ensuring that the program is accessible to everyone in the organization.
An organization’s leadership can’t just approve of an idea. A top-down approach for any idea that’s driven by senior leadership is necessary when it comes to implementing effective systems and processes. In order for anything of this scale to happen, leadership needs to support it and be actively involved. They must buy in to the benefits of continuous process improvement and be on board with spreading awareness and participating in the process themselves ( read more about how to get executive buy-in in this post!). This isn’t the easiest of tasks, but by starting with small and cost-effective ideas and building from the ground up, you’ll be able to gradually increase leadership engagement.