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What is the purpose of the suggestion system?
By Norman Bodek

In America the first suggestion came from an employee at Kodak in 1898 and was, “Clean the windows.” With poor lighting, it was a very small but very good idea. The first suggestion system was an excellent way to get all employees involved in improvement activities. It was a way to empower employees to use their minds to solve the hundreds of problems around them. But, probably because the supervisor or manager saw the system as a “threat” to their authority a participatory system turned into a cost saving bureaucratic nightmare. In fact, unfortunately, Kodak a year ago cancelled their system.

In Japan the system called Quick and Easy Kaizen is primarily to empower people to take more responsibility in the overall success of their company. In Japan the average is 24 ideas per year per employee. The primarily focus of Quick and Easy Kaizen is to empower the worker to make their work easier and more interesting and of course, the company also benefits enormously. Matsushita Electric (Panasonic) received a year ago 23.7 ideas per employee and claimed a cost saving of $3,000 US a year per employee (over 100 million dollars a year in economic benefits). And Panasonic is not the exception.

I think the big question to ask yourself is, especially, if you want your lean efforts to succeed. “Why isn’t your company doing it?"

Norman Bodek, Co-author of The Idea Generator – Quick and Easy Kaizen.

Idea Generator, The: Quick and Easy Kaizen
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