Why is a Good Question!
While we all focused on survival in 2020, and learned how to balance demand and delays in 2021, the companies forging ahead are those where questioning assumed norms and asking “why” or “what if” is an encouraged part of their culture. Clause 10 of many ISO standards addresses this topic, requiring that companies have identified improvement projects as part of their strategic planning. Simon Sinek’s recent post on LinkedIn called “This is the way we’ve always done it, isn’t a good reason to continue” clearly explains how lack of flexibility disempowers people. To launch a culture of improvement, make 2022 the year where employees have room to ask WHY, and suggest alternatives to HOW, that help you achieve the WHAT.
Launch a “Let’s Fix It” campaign - ask staff to identify 3 tasks where they have created a work-around, or have a suggestion for a process that doesn’t work as defined. This uncovers innovations no one has voiced. One company had 300 suggestions come in when they did this. People felt heard, and more importantly, valued.
Authorize a controlled trial run for suggestions – collect data before and after to evaluate effectiveness, and thank the team for testing it (good or bad) – then improve those process that are viable.
Publicly recognize employees whose suggestions improved a process, with data showing improved efficiency. Need evidence this is worth the effort? Read “The Invisible Employee” for examples and data.