I Was Two Weeks Ahead of the Curve on This Dilbert Cartoon About Digitizing Suggestion Boxes
You might remember my April Fool's blog post that I did for KaiNexus as I shared here on my blog:
One of the core jokes in the description of KaiNexus Suggestion Box was the shredding of ideas as they were scanned into the physical suggestion box:
As it scans, the KaiNexus Suggestion Box's patent-pending shredder mechanism quietly turns the suggestion sheet into a likely-recyclable pulp. Caution: check with your local municipality to ensure the specially-coated scented paper can be recycled.
So, I couldn't believe it when the April 15, 2018 Dilbert cartoon made basically the same joke.
Here is the first panel (click here to see the entire strip):
The design and workflow of the Dilbert suggestion box was, again, very similar to KaiNexus. As the strip explains:
“The original design called for a box that scans and digitizes suggestions written on paper and emails them to the appropriate manager.”
“Then, the device shreds the original paper suggestion to make room for more.”
Unfortunately, after building the box and the shredder, Dilbert needs additional funding to finish the scanner part.
The pointy-haired boss says:
“We don't have the flexibility in our budget. Let's just deploy what you have.”
Dilbert points out the obvious that the box will shred ideas without anybody reading them.
The PHB says:
“Don't let perfect be the enemy of good.”
That expression isn't meant to be an excuse to have half-baked ideas or to settle for crappy ideas because they're not perfect. There's a grain of truth to the expression, but be careful with it…
Even if an all-software “digital suggestion box” solution doesn't destroy the ideas, there's no guarantee that ideas will be read or acted upon.
Digitizing a broken suggestion box process isn't that helpful. KaiNexus is built upon “Kaizen” principles, which are very different than the suggestion box model in many ways, including:
- Ownership of the testing and evaluation of ideas is very often kept in the hands of staff (unless leaders really need to jump in and help as servant leaders)
- We encourage the implementation of SMALL ideas, not just those with the biggest projected Return on Investment (ROI)
- Kaizen starts with the identification of problems, instead of starting by jumping to a solution or a suggestion
- It's better to quickly implement something that's an 80% solution instead of talking until you have the “perfect” solution (but remember the warning about the PHB quote)
Here are some other past blog posts and videos about the problems associated with well-intended suggestion boxes:
What Has Your Organization Done to Move Beyond Suggestion Boxes?
Have you been able to move beyond suggestion boxes in your organization?
See more Dilbert strips related to Lean that I've collected under the tag “Dilbert” and this post that collects a number of links:
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