Thanks to George Friesen for pointing me toward his video about “Idea Boards” as a Kaizen methodology.
Like George, I was inspired to start using this approach thanks to David Mann‘s outstanding book Creating a Lean Culture: Tools to Sustain Lean Conversions. George's video is about factories… I've introduced it to many healthcare organizations (and a non-profit) and I shared some of these experiences in the book Healthcare Kaizen.
Here is the video:
As the people say in the video:
- The board is transparent, simple, clear, and open
- It's not a suggestion box that you stuff full of ideas (I'd add, where they never get seen!)
- People are more involved, their voices can be heard
- Kaizen can have a big financial impact, although that's not the only thing that matters
- It helps change people's way of thinking
- People's ideas are important, no matter how small or how large
I do, however, use and recommend a structured card instead of a free-form sticky note (which is what Mann's book suggested. It's good to gather ideas (which are collected on the sticky/post-it notes), but I think a structured card that prompts someone to first state a problem (or opportunity) before then giving an idea (or countermeasure or “solution”) leads to better results.
Things that are generally prompted on the card include:
- Problem (or opportunity)
- Expected benefits
- Who else do we need input from?
This is helpful because if the original idea isn't affordable or isn't practical for some reason, you can go back to the problem statement and find another idea that addresses that problem.
Do you use Idea Boards? If so, what works for you? Do you have a picture of a board to share? If so, click here. Or see examples of boards and individual Kaizen improvements from other organizations.
Listen to my podcast with David Mann, from 2006.
Idea boards work great for local teams and they are simple and effective (I teach how to use them in my on-site workshops and public workshops). But, an electronic idea board, like KaiNexus (where I'm on the management team), has its advantages for distributed teams. And, KaiNexus gives a web-based method for easy sharing completed ideas across multiple departments or sites, even if you are using a analog visual board.
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