You Can’t Force Suggestions


There was a question on the NWLean email list about suggestions, in the context of The Idea Generator: Quick and Easy Kaizen, reading in part:

“My question is this; is the 2 suggestions per month per employee forced? Meaning do I require each worker to sumit their ideas or do I suggest that they do?”

Thankfully, Norman Bodek chimed in and pointed out this is never coercive. Lean leaders only fall back on positional authority and telling people what to do as a last resort. Hopefully it starts seeming silly to people to use one concept (getting employee input) via a non-Lean approach (mandating things).

The question continued:

If the answer is that I suggest they do, then what is the next approach I take if I have very little participation?

I think cases like this provide great opportunities to ask “why?” Why are employees not participating? The answers will vary depending on your environment, but it's always a good thing to ask “why?” instead of redoubling the mandate 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.


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