Use the Idea Board for Lean Manufacturing Success

Use the Idea Board for Lean Manufacturing Success


(Music) Hi, this is George Friesen, Business Practice Leader for Lean manufacturing at St. Louis Community College. About seven years ago, I read a book called “Creating A Lean Culture” by David Mann, a tremendous valuable resource for any company implementing lean processes. In this book Mann describes a really elegantly simple, but tremendously powerful, process called the idea board. You’re going to be hearing individuals from three of our clients – Hydromat Incorporated, GSI Diversified, and RugDoctor talk about the way in which it’s motivated employees to get actively involved in looking critically and creatively at lean work processes, a truly powerful tool. Let’s hear from these employees as they talk about the idea board. What’s great about the idea board, from what we have seen at Hydromat and Edge Technologies, is that everybody is really able to see the progress of their ideas and see at what stage their ideas are. It’s not just a suggestion box where you stuff it with ideas, it’s very clear and open so that other people can see what your ideas are too. Simplicity, I think is what the Post-it note brings to the idea board. You can move it around, you can change it, if you don’t like something you wrote up there you can take it down, you can reword it. If you do think of something it’s very easy to put up there, and you do get to see it. You get to see it go from here’s an idea, to we’re working on it, no we’re not working on it, or moving it to finished. You actually get a sense of progress. As you can see we have had several ideas come to us initially, and I think it has worked out great. It’s been huge for employee engagement so to speak. I know employee engagement is a clichéd term, but right now we have people actively thinking about what they are doing, how they are doing their work. People feel more involved – they feel there’s something they can do themselves instead of going to a supervisor or lead. They can get their voice heard. We’ve changed a lot of different areas to different things, so the idea board helped doing that. If we didn’t have it I don’t think the changes would have been made. I’m still maintaining that the employee engagement was the single biggest impact, but just to be sure we track the financial impact and over a year and a half we had over two hundred thousand dollars saved by ideas specifically coming from the idea board. Really what the program has done, which I think is important, is that it’s changed people’s way of think about what they do, the activities they partake in, and they’re thinking more in terms of how I do it better, how do I do it more efficiently. My idea was a visual board in the stock room for our truck shipments. We built a skid wrapper so that they don’t have to walk around skids, you can set it on there and wrap it. One change for us in the shipping department is the cardboard used to come in on the floor double stacked, which related to a lot of physical work, and it also presented a problem putting it on pallets as we had to do it in house. Now since it comes in it’s taken our unloading time down from an hour and a half to less than twenty minutes. To understand that their ideas are important to the success of the company, no matter how small or how large I’ve seen it and I believe in it. I know it has made our area work better and help everyone work as a team together and not separate departments because everyone can help solve the problem. We’ve already seen a couple of changes on the floor, so hopefully to keep on improving, and hopefully more ideas are posted on the idea board so we can see more changes. What you have heard speaks loud and clear about the way in which the idea board drives higher levels of employee engagement and creativity. We would like to talk with you about ways of using this very powerful tool of lean manufacturing as well as others in a way that will increase your productivity and profitability. Please call me, George Friesen, at 314-303-0612 and let’s talk. Thank you very much.

3 Replies to “Use the Idea Board for Lean Manufacturing Success”

  1. Very nicely done video. Here are some of my thoughts and reactions in a blog post, reposting some of it here:

    Like George, I was inspired to start using this approach thanks to David Mann‘s outstanding book. I’ve introduced this same method to many healthcare organizations (and a non-profit) and I shared some of these experiences in the book Healthcare Kaizen (co-authored with Joe Swartz).

  2. In my use of Idea Boards, I do, however, use and recommend a structured card instead of a free-form sticky note. It’s good to gather ideas (collected on the sticky/post-it notes), but I think a structured card that prompts someone to first state a problem (or opportunity) before then giving an idea (or countermeasure or “solution”) leads to better results.

    A more structured card prompts people to write down:

    Problem:
    Idea:
    Expected Benefit:
    Input Needed From (which people)

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