New year . . . new ideas . . . new approach

The thumbnail version:

  • A new year is a good time for new ideas.
  • Employees are a great source of ideas.

The full version:

Every business has to evolve in order to survive. In this case “evolve” means incorporating changes to make the business operate more efficiently and effectively, which is another way of saying “make more money.”

One source for evolutionary ideas is the employee pool. They are after all on the front lines, or if you prefer, they are where the rubber hits the road. They see stuff. They have ideas how to fix stuff. All you as the owner or management have to do is tap into that resource. “But how?” you ask.

One way is conduct brainstorming sessions. But not the classical text-book sessions set in formal, oak-panel-lined meeting rooms with some guy in a designer suit with a laser pointer and a big white board. I’m talking more about sitting around in the shop with a few beers and some chips and just talking about how things operate and how they could operate better.

It’s informal but there nevertheless have to be a few rules to ensure that the process produces results: (1) no suggestion is too stupid to consider; (2) no suggestion is criticized or rejected until it has been discussed and explored; (3) and the owner or management must be seen to be taking it seriously by implementing the agreed ideas.

Employees have ideas. Some can be very good. All you have to do is create the environment for them to share. And the more you do it the more comfortable everyone becomes with the process and the better it works.