The best ideas can come from the most unusual places, but how can you make sure you don’t miss out? Becky shares some tips on how to collect your employees’ bright ideas.
By Becky Mee
Pub quiz question for you: How did the London Underground Tube map come about?
Well those of you who are a little geeky will know something I had to google, after my eye was caught by the small print in the bottom left hand corner of a Tube map I recently picked up.
The familiar, multi coloured schematic design was the brainchild of Harry Beck, an employee of the London Underground, who worked as an engineering draftsman in the Signals Office. The map was the result of his spare-time doodling, and belief that Tube passengers would be helped if they could easily see how to get from one station to another and where to change train.
The beauty of this story is that an idea that fundamentally changed how people used the Tube came from an employee whose job wasn’t creating the maps. He simply noticed a way to improve the system and created a solution.
So, what can you do in your business to ensure you don’t miss out on a great idea?
Everyone can be creative!
Don’t assume that the best ideas will only come from your management team or your creative teams. They often come from the ‘coal face’ or left field. Creating a culture where everyone can make a suggestion is important. Whilst someone might not come up with the perfect idea initially, their idea can be adapted and built upon to become all singing and dancing!
Ask for feedback
Don’t be afraid to ask your team for their ideas on a regular basis. Make it an agenda point in your monthly team meetings – asking what works, what doesn’t and what ideas they have to improve things is a collaborative way of getting the ball rolling.
Suggestions boxes, employee competitions around new initiatives or rewards for coming up with ideas that save time/ money/ stress are all great ways of getting ideas. These can be ongoing with monthly prize draws, or for a specific annual launch tied into your business strategy. Make the competition relevant, show how the idea will help the business grow/ make people’s lives easier, add a meaningful reward and people will be encouraged to give it a go!
Include your people in reviewing your processes
Build ‘finding a better way’ into your daily processes. Create a team made up of people from different departments, then take a reoccurring problem or customer complaint and get them to pull it apart and come up with new ways of working. Each person will have a different perspective based on their experience and this is key to coming up with new ideas.
Team best practice
Share what works in other departments and then adapt to suit your team, making the idea even better.
Reward people for asking “how could this be better?”
People normally make suggestions because they know their idea will be listened to and considered. It might not be taken up, but if their suggestion is acknowledged and they have feedback, they will keep making suggestions. The reward doesn’t have to be big; a simple board sharing ideas, a thank you card or entry into a prize draw all make their mark.
If you’re looking for ways to encourage your team to share ideas or create a culture more focused on continuous improvement, we can help. Give us a call today!
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