Bill runs a $12 million manufacturing company. To sustain passion and engagement among his employees, he encourages them to share their new product concepts or process improvement ideas. Each quarter, he presents a small award for the idea that proves to generate its promised financial benefits for the company.Every development or process improvement proposal must include a projected quantifiable benefit for the company that either increases revenue (sales, throughput, productivity), or reduces costs or inventory (dollars, time, waste). A cross-functional assessment team of four joins Bill in evaluating the submittals. This team includes representatives from Engineering, Operations, Quality Assurance and Finance to ensure that thorough consideration is given to how a specific concept may impact the business.
Having five members participate in the assessment means that every idea gets an up or down vote. Each submittal receives a written response from Bill advising the decision of the assessment team and its rationale. Every proposal is treated seriously and earns a response; this nurtures initiative and innovation while providing some teaching moments about how a business makes decisions.
The assessment team prioritizes the submittals by the credibility of the proposal, the amount of profit improvement potential generated for the company and the timing on which the ROI begins. Opportunities that provide a quick return but with lower profitability impact often get the highest priority because they are easier to implement and offer visual validation that the company is committed to acting on the suggestions of its employees.
Bill’s personnel recognize that they are contributing to the growth of their business, and that their ideas are appreciated. During the two years that Bill has been using this system, the number of proposals from his employees has increased each quarter, boosting the company’s profitability.
How can you inspire product and process proposals from your team?