Putting a suggestion in the traditional suggestion box was always individual effort. One person had to identify the problem and find the optimal solution. If the problem identifier could not find a solution, the problem persisted. Easy Kaizen improves this procedure by bringing teamwork into the process.
Doing one-half of the suggestion process, identifying the problem is sufficient and appreciated. Identifying problems is easy. You invent because something bothers you. Ask employees what work tasks irritates them. Are you unhappy when running a certain product? Does a lab test performed yield inconsistent results? Does the cost of raw materials exceed expectations? Is access to all your work areas easy? Why am I having trouble on my shift with a task and the other shifts do not have the same problem?
Each employee work task irritation starts a thread in the company’s online kaizen discussion forum. Comments and suggestions are collected from all employees. Brainstorming ensues. Optimal solutions evolve. A company that produces similar items in more than one location becomes one team. Problems and solutions are shared. Your team becomes as large as the company.
The employee can include a suggestion with the work task irritation. The irritation and suggestion still goes into the forum. The idea may be improved on the forum.
Customer complaints also start online kaizen threads.
Ann in the Technical Services department logs in customer complaints and sends these complaints and samples to the R&D department. Ann gets swamped with customer complaints regarding paint peeling off gym floors. She adds an irritation into the online kaizen forum, “Paint is peeling off customers’ gym floors at an abnormally high rate.”
Fred notices no one complains about red paint. It always adheres to gym floors. He does a pareto chart to confirm his observation. Fred enters this observation.
Sarah applies all the gym colors to wood. None of the colors, including red, consistently adhere to wood.
Kevin decides a different substrate is needed for testing adhesion. He applies red paint to everything he can find: steel, aluminum, ceramic tile, glass, etc. Kevin discovers red paint always adheres to glass. The colors peeling off customers’ floors do not adhere to glass.
With a reliable paint adhesion test, the company learned different colored paints required different amounts of bonding agent. This company was not a paint manufacturer; their supplier had to ensure the paint adhered to glass before shipment.
The online kaizen forum does not replace team meetings; it enhances team meetings. Forum entries facilitate team communication.
My book Kaizen, Bird Dogs and The American Dream answers the employee question “What’s in it for me if I improve the company’s products?” The answer is simple, “If you learn to improve our products, you will have the skills to improve products off the job. Patent these improvements and start your own company or collect royalties from others.” As I use my kaizen skills to start my own company, past improvements are used to illustrate the benefits of an online kaizen forum. These benefits include creating challenges to retain high performers, identifying future lean leaders, and using success stories to train employees. The book is in journal form, which resembles the learning provided by an online kaizen forum.
Insufficient training leads to problems. Hence, many employee irritations entered into the online forum will be due to ineffective training. The online company innovation forum is also a feedback system for the training program.
The book can be accessed through the book tab. To view only the Easy Kaizen portion of the book use the Easy Kaizen tab.