Lean and Mean Idea Processes

The concept of an Idea Forum, suggested in an Boardroom Inc. This was put in place at the suggestion of Peter Drucker, who spent a day visiting the company in 1992. Each week, every employee is expected to come to his or her weekly department meeting with two ideas, however small, that will make the job easier, or improve the company in some way. At the meeting – and here is where the power of the “Forum” is engaged – the manager goes round the table and each person in turn explains his or her idea. The group discusses it, critiques it, brings up aspects of the problem or solution the proposer hadn’t thought of, and decides what to do with it. If the decision is to send it elsewhere (or upstairs) a far better idea makes that journey.

The funny thing is that spending more time with an idea up front (as in discussing it) greatly speeds later implementation. Not only is it a better idea, but it starts of with more buy-in from the people affected by it.

It gets really powerful when, as at Dana Hopkinsville, people are asked to post not just idea, but problems, the grist for ideas. Sometimes the person who first sees the problem isn’t the best person to solve it.