Office for Emergency Management. War Production Board. circa 1942
According to “Corporate Creativity” by Alan G Robinson and Sam Stern, one of the first recorded examples of company suggestion programmes was from 1770, when the British Navy sought a way to solicit information.
How many company suggestion boxes have you seen in your life? When was the last time you submitted a company suggestion? Let’s face it; it’s become a joke… Could you imagine looking one of your colleagues in the eye and saying, wow that’s a great idea, put it in the company suggestion box!
How and where did things go wrong? Why are we so cynical? Somewhere out there someone decided they needed some ideas on how to improve their business. They had the foresight to understand that better ideas might be found outside the confines of their own brain.
I suspect those who were genuinely interested in improvement embraced the concept and reaped the rewards.
Company suggestions can work, but the “company” be it the boss, managers, the “culture” has to want it to work. Somewhere the concept of the company suggestion got abused. This was an initiative that was half heartedly implemented. It was window dressing; it made you look like you cared.
Today we’ve moved away from a having the dusty box that sits next to the water cooler. We’ve gone web 2.0, people can suggest, vote and comment from anywhere. Ideas are transparent; everyone knows who submitted an idea, and who’s holding it up. But at the end of the day it’s still a suggestion box.
If your company doesn’t really believe that good ideas can come from outside your own department, or even outside of you company… I’d say your not ready for Idea Software. You might as well slap the company suggestion box back on the wall.
What do you think makes a company culture more conducive to openness? What have you come across in your own experience?