Today’s guest post is written by Andy Beddows
Call me sad, call me old fashioned, but I have just been watching an old VHS video tape of ABBA. While watching it struck me how time can have different effects on components of these memories.
Yes, everyone grows older and the fashions were just … Did I really wear flairs like that? But the core music remains fresh and above all popular. So it should be no surprise that these varied effects can also be applied to the collection of ideas. As with the music the core concept, in this case employee ideas being of value to the organisation, remains as strong as ever.
What has changed is the ‘decoration’, how we collect ideas and the way we say thank you. Technology gave ABBA the opportunity to be at the forefront of the music video not initially as a new promotion tool, but just a personal desire to avoid travelling. Today we embrace all new technologies to promote and operate our suggestion schemes, a continuation of those pioneering technological advances of the seventies, eighties and nineties.
Have the reasons why we collect ideas changed? Back in the forties the forerunner of Ideas America was created to encourage ideas programs (suggestion schemes) in war factories (aircraft, tanks and guns) where housewives had been drafted in to replace the male workforce. They needed to get them involved with their work, to use their fresh eyes and new learned skills on the job to spot how to do it quicker, cheaper and safer. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s that good old core concept.
When I first got into the ideas business some twenty years ago the paper form and suggestion box on the wall were king and our cutting edge technology was the latest photo copier. Now it’s desk tops, laptops, iPads and smart phones all using Intranets and Internet. We were entrenched in the principal that rewarding ideas with cash or something of value was paramount. Now many schemes run without hard or substantial rewards. What has developed is growth of recognition and recognition events. That said the core concept remains the same.
What about the people? Apart from those old stagers getting older there are lots of new young faces involved. We have lost that segment of management we used to call ‘dinosaurs’ – the ones who saw the ideas of others as an attack on their position or who claimed ideas as their own or just rejected ideas out of hand. The new breed of managers accepts all ideas and on all subjects, nothing is considered out of scope in the modern suggestion scheme. Dynamic changes but the core concept remains the same.
Where do we go from here? Difficult to say, but you can now make a suggestion at work, from home and on the move on your phone but one area of creative thought is still out of reach! Has anyone invented a phone you can use in the shower? You see even the ideas business, after over one hundred years of development, can still benefit from suggestions – the core concept rules!
Former Royal Air Force Officer and retailer Andy Beddows managed, for seventeen years, the employee suggestion scheme within Boots, initially within its manufacturing areas but then covering all 75,000 employees in 2500 Boots stores. Andy has been heavily involved with ideasUK, initially as the Boots representative on its Executive and now, having retired, as ideasUK’s Chairman. He believes that the secret of successful employee driven innovation is the open mindedness of the organisation and its removal of barriers. This can be further enhanced by the ability of management to support and embrace an ideas process whilst not losing sight of internal and external experiences so avoiding reinventing the wheel or repeating the mistakes of the past.