Top 3 Reasons to Give All Employees Their Say

February 28, 2012 in Critical Success Factors, Culture, Team Improvement

The future of product development, creativity, and innovation does not lie with a small group of upper management individuals in your company. The future of your business cannot afford to be so limited in scope that it excludes the thoughts and innovative ideas of all other employees.

Many companies are learning to accept more insights from lower-level employees. The Top 3 Reasons these businesses are amassing all employee brainpower are:

1. Allowing for more than just the loudest voice to be heard.
By creating a system for “internal markets” or even games of betting anonymously on product development ideas, all individuals can give input without feeling silly or without being degraded for their opinions.

2. Acquiring knowledge from various areas of expertise.
Upper management can tend to be a small group of similarly minded people. By gathering input from all areas of the company, product development will benefit.

3. Giving employees a sense of belonging within the organization.
While you gain predictions on product pricing or sales figures, your employees are discovering that their input matters. Feeling involved will make your employees want to participate more in the future and will even instill in them company loyalty.

Source: Erick Schonfeld, “The Wisdom of the Corporate Crowd”, Business 2.0, September 2006, Pages 47–49

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Getting Lean. It’s Good for the Customer.

February 3, 2012 in Culture, Processes, Team Improvement

The term “lean” has been with us for years now. It was originally used to describe a particular type of manufacturing process that optimized production while mitigate the associated costs. It is good, basic common sense about how to get more with less. While it won proponents around the world, it did so primarily on the basis of how it affected company results. Money was saved; profits were thus encouraged.

What was left undiscussed in these years is the way in which this type of approach – not just to manufacturing, but to all areas of business – actually helps the customer. Obviously, the point is not to try to do more with less for customers by shutting down the call center a half hour earlier everyday because fewer customers call in that last half hour. Quite the opposite. It is about recognizing that additional resources are created through lean processes, and those resources can be devoted to improving the customer experience, either through new product development or even through keeping call center open another half hour later every day.

Thinking lean simply means thinking about optimal leverage, in all your processes, with the idea in mind that ultimately, you are in business to serve customers.

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Companies Change With the Right Focus on Innovation

January 27, 2012 in Culture, Innovation, Team Improvement

Procter & Gamble might not be the first name that comes to mind when thinking about a list of the Masters of Innovation. The company, more than 100 years old, makes products that most of us grew up with, and many of our parents grew up with. And many of those products hardly seem game-changing. Take Pampers for example. Or Crest. How about Tide? Good product, but hardly the iPhone.

With this in mind, when A.G. Lafley took over the helm as CEO in 2000, he saw that the way out of the struggles the company had at the time was through the portal of innovation. The process he took to do that is well documented in the book, The Game Changer, which was written with Ram Charan. A review of the book can be found in the April 14, 2008 issue of Businessweek, p. 73, “How P&G Pampers New Thinking.

As the article highlights, the distinctive feature of this book is the way in which it provides granular look at P&G’s process, elevating it above the typical philosophizing on the subject of innovation so popular in the press today.

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