#NFMeeting Live Blog: Generating Ideas & Innovation from Frontline Workers

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Wise words from Dean Schroeder, co-author of The Idea-Driven Organization, a new book focusing on driving innovation through frontline worker ideas.

Schroeder led the discussion about developing and creating idea systems that solve big and small problems across a variety of industries. The startling truth from their research is that 80 percent of innovations and improvements come from frontline workers. During his presentation, attendees heard real examples of businesses that tap into idea networks in order to increase productivity, save money, improve safety and performance outcomes and many other goals that businesses of all sizes have.

Some key principles and thoughts discussed, and further explored in the book, include:
– Making sure that management and worker goals are aligned. Focus on what matters. Without understanding what leadership wants to accomplish, frontline workers won’t engage and commit to a problem-solving culture.
– Develop a transparent system that supports idea generation and problem-solving – abandon the suggestion box.
– Go after the small ideas. It creates an improvement culture. Also, small ideas are less costly, less risky. Get to where you need to be incrementally.
– Big improvements need lots of small ideas to secede.
– Make sure leadership can adapt to support, encourage and lead in a bottom-up organization.

Creating bottom-up idea systems work because frontline workers are often more creative about problem-solving. They see and understand the tangibles that might be harder for management teams or consultants to comprehend. Additionally, by empowering frontline workers, you create an organization where people want to stay and generally have abilities to problem solve across all areas of their lives.

In summary: Idea cultures improve workplace culture at the same time as increasing productivity and bottom-line results. That’s a great idea!