Fresh ideas for improving your business probably won’t come from your senior managers – you’re already doing what they think. Instead, the best ideas are far more likely to come from your front-line people who interact with customers, make your products and deliver your services. Instead of suppressing those ideas, idea-driven organizations pick up on them and apply them.
Very few organizations fully harness the collective brainpower, creativity, hands-on knowledge and insights of their entire workforce. By and large, most tend to use just the ideas which are drawn from a handful of company leaders or sometimes the owners. That’s unfortunate because there is no question front-line employees can come up with great ideas.
Most managers find it difficult to accept that front-line sourced ideas could offer four times the improvement potential of their own ideas. However, this same dynamic has been found to hold true for diverse organizations across a wide range on industries. Simply put, idea-driven organizations are directed from the top but are primarily driven by ideas from the bottom. They let good ideas bubble up from front-line staff which then get picked up on and executed from the top down. For this to happen, you need to have systems in place which both push and pull those ideas at the same time.
To get ahead, don’t look for a superstar CEO. Listen to and act on the ideas of your ordinary employees. When you start unlocking the potential of those ideas, everything changes.
Building an idea-driven organization is not easy, and it does not happen overnight. Time is needed to excise command-and-control thinking, to develop new habits and skills, and to create the management systems that promote rapid ongoing improvement and innovation.”