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I’m now in the process of reading The Idea Generator: […]

I’m now in the process of reading The Idea Generator: Quick and Easy Kaizen by Bunji Tozawa and Norman Bodek. From the standpoint of innovation, it has a very interesting premise:

The authors believe that most corporate suggestion systems fail because they ask employees to submit ideas for improvements, but then their ideas are turned over to other people for implementation — if they were ever implemented at all. Over time, employees learn that the odds of their ideas being used are very slim, and so they stop submitting suggestions.

Quick and easy kaizen, in contrast, is based on the idea that every employee is creative, and has dozens of ideas on how to improve the work processes and tasks that they are involved in. Further, this methodology states that workers can make these incremental changes themselves, rather than relying on some remote, bureaucratic authority that may be solely responsible for innovation within the company. According to the authors, “creativity is the only means by which workers can truly be involved in their company’s success.”

Quick and easy kaizen sounds like a great strategy for empowering employees and encouraging them to share and implement their ideas in a positive, structured way. It doesn’t require an elaborate bureaucratic structure to implement, just a willingness on the part of a company’s leadership to engage both employees’ hands and their minds. Although I am only about one-fourth of the way through this book, I am already convinced that this is an important strategy that your organization ought to explore. In Japan, Canon and Toyota are already enjoying tremendous successes with quick and easy kaizen, while in the U.S., Dana Corp. has transformed its operations using this simple but highly effective innovation and improvement methodology.

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