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Jul 11, 2007

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Value Ideas and Staff Suggestions

Value Ideas and Staff Suggestions

Many of the success stories begin with simple ideas. In the
course of work, your employees or staff may likewise have
creative ideas and innovative solutions to carry out their work
more effectively and efficiently. Sometimes, they improvise the
processes without the Management being aware of it. It could
very well be that the same improvisation can be applied to other
work processes across the departments and can translate to cost
savings for the company. Like Pemberton in our Coca-Cola®
story below, they may lack the foresight in knowing the true
worth of their ideas.


The Cock and the Jewel

Value Ideas and Staff Suggestions

(Illus by Arthur Rackham)

A Cock was busily scratching and scraping about to find
something to eat for himself and his family, when he happened
to turn up a precious jewel that had been lost by its owner.

"Aha!" said the Cock. "No doubt you are very costly and he who
lost you would give a great deal to find you. But as for me, I
would choose a single grain of barleycorn before all the jewels
in the world."


Precious things are without value to those who cannot prize

Quotable Quotes:

“Every really new idea looks crazy at first.”
... Alfred North Whitehead

“In a restless, creative business with an emphasis on
experiment and development, ideas are the lifeblood.”
... Richard Branson

“If new ideas are the lifeblood of any thriving

organization ... managers must learn to revere, not
merely tolerate, the people who come up with the ideas.”
... Mark McCormack

“The point of work-out is to give people better jobs.
When people see that their ideas count, their dignity is
raised. Instead of feeling numb, like robots, they feel
important.” ... Jack Welch

“A powerful new idea can kick around unused in a
company for years, not because its merits are not
recognised, but because nobody has assumed the
responsibility for converting it from words to action.”
... Theodore Levitt

“If you go through life convinced that your way is
always best, all the new ideas in the world will pass
you by.” ... Akio Morita

[browse collection of quotes and quotations]

Lessons in life:

This is a short story, but it illustrates an important lesson, that
people attach different values to ideas and things. One may see
an idea as worthless and ridiculous, yet another might turn that
same idea into multi-million dollar businesses.

Every new invention in the market starts off with a thought, a
possible solution to a problem, which may not seem feasible at
first. We have heard of these inspirational stories:-

1. The adhesive used in Post-it® Notes was invented by 3M's
research scientist, Dr. Spence Silver. He knew it was special
although he had no clue as to what he could do with it. Art Fry
was a 3M new product development researcher. He wanted to
find a solution to prevent the scrap bookmarks from falling
out of his church choir hymnal. That was how he put the special
adhesive to good use and Post-it® pads were an immediate

2. The popular Big Mac at McDonald's restaurant was put
together by an Italian-American, Jim Delligatti, who owned a
McDonald's franchise in Pittsburgh. His customers longed for a
big sandwich, but he was not allowed to have that on the menu.
Two years down the road, he was finally permitted to create
that and he sold the first Big Mac in 1967. Today, the Big Mac is
so successful worldwide that The Economist came up with a
“Big Mac Index” to compare prices of Big Macs sold in various
countries to determine the cost of living.

3. When Sony introduced Walkman in 1979, it revolutionized
the music industry altogether. Back then, Sony had only a
Pressman which reporters carried around. These were recorders
which had no stereo sound and used microcassettes. Sony
Founder, the late Masaru Ibuka, wanted a small tape player for
his personal use and got Kozo Ohsone from the tape recorder
division to work on it. The then Honorary Chairman and Sony
Founder, the late Akio Morita, liked it too and despite
skepticism from the staff and the media, rolled out the first
Sony Walkman - a cheap, stylish, and light cassette tape player.

4. Clarence Birdseye noted how the people living in the Artic
preserved fresh food by freezing them in sea water and
understood that rapid freezing would retain the food's
freshness. He brought into the market the Birds Eye line of
frozen vegetables, seafood and meat that can retain their
freshness for months.

5. An American chef at Saratoga Springs in New York, George
Crum, responded to customer complaints about the thickness
of his french fries. He sliced thinly the potatoes, deep fried
them, and his “Saratoga Chips” became the first potato chips.

6. Have you seen “Biro” ballpoint pens? Laszlo Biro, a
Hungarian journalist, invented the ballpoint pen when he was
fascinated by the newspaper printing ink, which dried quicker
than the conventional writing ink used in those days. To make
the thicker ink flow, he fitted his pen tip with a ball bearing that
could transfer the ink onto the paper when it rolled over.

7. In 1886, Dr. John Pemberton, a pharmacist from Georgia,
produced the syrup for Coca-Cola®. His bookkeeper, Frank
Robinson, thought of the name and wrote the nicely scripted
word which we see today as the famous trademark. When the
drinks were first sold, Pemberton suffered a loss. Pemberton
did not know that he had a gem in his hand and sold his business
interest. A pharmacist and businessman from Atlanta, Asa
Candler, saw enormous value in the product and by 1888 had
acquired all the interests in Coca-Cola®.

Companies that appreciate and value these ideas roll out schemes
to tap on the brains of their staff. Call that a “Staff Suggestion
Scheme” or an “Ideas Scheme”. Staff are encouraged to write in
printed or online forms their ideas and recommendations for
improvement. The usual areas that they can talk about are work
procedures, work environment, quality of goods and services,
customer care, cost savings, revenue generation, and company

A few tips that can make the scheme successful:-

1. The top Management must be actively involved and be openly
supportive. An otherwise good idea may be thrown out by the
ideas reviewer either due to office politics or personal differences.
For instance, a senior manager may reject a good idea to tweak
the work process for fear that he will be chided by the top
management for not having thought of it all along. If the person
at the helm of the corporate hierarchy makes it a point to check
on the submissions, staff will be more inclined to offer participate
in the scheme.

2. Every submission has to be reviewed and replied to promptly.
It is incorrect to place high priority to ideas from supervisors
and low priority to ideas from the cleaning staff. Whether or
not the idea is accepted for implementation, as well as the
reasons for acceptance or rejection, must be communicated to
the suggestor. If the idea cannot be implemented, thank them
anyway. Let them know how much the company treasured their
input and urge them to continue contributing their valuable
ideas and suggestions.

3. The issue of incentives often come into play. Why would the
staff take the time and trouble to pen their suggestions unless
there is something in return for them. Monetary incentives,
promotion prospects, career enhancement, and self esteem are
some of the motivating factors. Offer them cash for every
suggestion, certificates and awards at annual functions, publicity
in inhouse newsletters, unrecorded leave, special mention in the
staff assessment and appraisal.

4. If properly managed, a scheme like this can reveal talents
among the staff, recognize their importance to the company,
and foster a closer bond between the Management and the staff.
Good ideas can also cut costs, increase profits, or provide
better customer service.

Related Articles:

Staff is the most valuable asset
Value every team member
Teamwork - A Competitive Advantage

Books worth reading:

Sam Harrison in Ideaspotting: How to Find Your Next
Great Idea lets you know that there are great ideas everywhere
and all you have to do is to know how to spot them and work
on them.

A corporate culture that recognizes and implements
improvements based on the employees' ideas is one that can
bring in more profits and cost cuts. Read Ideas Are Free:
How the Idea Revolution Is Liberating People and
Transforming Organizations by management academics
Alan G Robinson and Dean M Schroeder for the steps that
corporations can take to put in place and successfully
implement a corporate idea program.

© Business Fables and Management Lessons

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1 comment:

Harrisburg Advertising Agency said...

Nice blog dear i have really learnt a lot from this blog thanks.


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