Here’s an Idea: Let Everyone Have Ideas


New York Times:

Here is an interesting spin on the ideas of employee involvement and bottom-up problem solving:

“Most companies operate under the assumption that big ideas come from a few big brains: the inspired founder, the eccentric inventor, the visionary boss. But there's a fine line between individual genius and know-it-all arrogance. What happens when rivals become so numerous, when technologies move so quickly, that no corporate honcho can think of everything? Then it's time to invent a less top-down approach to innovation, to make it everybody's business to come up with great ideas.”

The article doesn't talk about lean or the Toyota Production System mindset, per se. But, it's a reminder that great ideas come from all parts of the organization. I'm not suggesting that everyone set up a “stock market” for internal ideas. However, remember that not all of your lean improvement ideas are going to come from managers or engineers. It's really about getting your front line, value adding employees involved with improvement efforts.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. It’s important to realize the very few, if any, “visionary founders” achieved their vision alone. Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Bill Gates and so on – all of them had much more than helpers, they had true co-conspirators that not only helped fulfill the vision but helped to create it.


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