Are Suggestion “Boxes” the Best Way to Go?

By Ron Pereira Updated on January 13th, 2011

A recent post by my friend Jon Miller got me thinking about suggestion boxes. For those unaware many companies ask their employees to submit improvement ideas into a box. Management then looks at the ideas and in some cases acts on them. 

I have seen these suggestion systems work to varying degrees of success. Suffice it to say one cannot simply install a box and expect the ideas to come. There is much more to it than that.

This leads me to wonder if a “box” is always the best way to go. If you think about your standard brainstorming session many ideas come to mind after hearing or seeing someone else’s ideas written on a post-it or flip chart paper. That’s the power of team brainstorming isn’t it?

So what would happen if you simply sat a flip chart outside of a cell and asked the employees to write down their improvement ideas for all to see. Perhaps that would get everyone’s creative juices flowing?  Then at the end of the shift the cell leader could discuss the ideas with the team and decide (as a team) whether to act on the idea(s).  If the idea is not too complex it could be acted on immediately.

I can think of pros and cons to this idea but think it may be worth a shot.

  1. Mark Graban

    December 11, 2007 - 11:04 pm

    Ban the box! David Mann, in his book Creating a Lean Culture, has a great visual method for managing suggestions and tracking status of implementation. I’ve installed the system in a few hospital departments and it works great, much better than a suggestion box.

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