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OE Suggestion System Example

I had a great day today in regards to the “OE Suggestion System” and have seen many great suggestion system examples.  First off, some of our clients are calling the OE Suggestion System the “Solution System” or the “Improvement System.”  I started my day off by driving a few hours to a client who was selecting their top monthly departmental winners for their “Improvement System.”  Starting in June, we piloted the improvement system for about 2 months in one area of the company, and, after the pilot, we expanded to the rest of the company.  The plan is to run the pilot mill-wide until January 2012, followed by “going live” throughout the mill.

Overall, in the month of August – they had over 300 improvements – all self-implemented with minimal cost and simple tools.  This morning, connecting at multiple daily meetings, the Director of Continuous Improvement and I brought to each departmental daily meeting the improvements that were implemented in their department.  By 9:30am each team had selected the top improvement that best represents their department, and the company as a whole.

After having a short break, I noticed another client who is also implementing the OE Suggestion system, had just in fact copied me in an email regarding their implementation of the “Solution System.”  This client (whose email is shown below) has been implementing the Solution System for almost a year.  Over the course of the past few months, there has been some turnover in the management team (i.e. steering committee), and there was a need to reinvigorate the solution system.

Chief Operating Officer to the President

Subject: The OE Suggestion System Example

Dear [President],

Here is a little story to share with you concerning the Solution System. 

 Earlier this week, the management staff was challenged to provide one solution each and then go out and recruit another individual from the company that has not provided a solution yet.  The managers were asked to take their time and explain how the solution system works and encourage the employee to offer a solution, while not provide them with a solution.  Well, Goose was my target.  [Goose is a part-time janitor who was been with the company since 2006.]

First off, Goose was surprised that he was even being asked to implement a solution!  When I first approached him, his first solution, as you can imagine, was to get a new sweeper.  I then coached him back to the Solution System policy as to the reasons why that didn’t fit the criteria of the solution system.  Then he suggested “hand dryers” to eliminate all of the paper waste.  Once again, this was an interesting idea but not a good solution, given the definition in the policy, and he was provided with the reasons.  Then, he was asked to look around as he sweeps the floor and empties the garbage over the next week to see if he notices anything from a safety standpoint that he could improve.  He apparently took this to heart.  By the end of the morning, he had met with Albert [his supervisor] and filled out a solution form. 

His solution, as it relates to safety, was to address the fact that people are sometimes standing in the hallway when he travels through with his sweeper and he is unsure if they are going to turn around and walk right into him.  In most cases, they are just not aware that he is there.  He felt this could be a safety concern because there might be an undesirable meeting between his sweeper and an individual.  So, to deal with his safety concern, he went over to the hardware store and purchased a bike horn for his sweeper with his own money ($2.89/ea).  He then borrowed a screwdriver from maintenance and assembled the horn by himself onto the sweeper!  Yes, we will be reimbursing him!

 Now, I’m sure your first though might be “this is really funny” and the employees may take this as a joke.  Many people here are amused by the situation, but we truly believe they are laughing with him, and not at him.  This solution is a perfect example of how the solution system should work.  This has a positive impact, it was implemented and tested by the submitter, it aligned with the balanced scorecard (safety), it required minimal cost and simple tools and was in the submitter’s area of responsibility.    

So, if you see Goose today (and you can keep a straight face when he blows his new horn), please thank him for the solution!     

OE Suggestion System Example

OE Suggestion System Example

Learnings from the OE Suggestion System Example

To quote the second to last sentence (and most of the Suggestion / Improvement / Solution System policies we implement at hospitals and manufacturing facilities): “This has a positive impact, it was implemented and tested by the submitter, it aligned with the balanced scorecard (safety), it required minimal cost and simple tools and was in the submitter’s area of responsibility.”   Also note how the solution was coached – the solution was encouraged from stage 1, and never declined, denied, etc.  The COO took the approach of “how can I help Goose implement a solution that fits the criteria.”  Thanks for the awesome OE Suggestion System Example, Goose!




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