My first employer awarded points for improvement ideas. These points could be redeemed for merchandise. This incentive program initiated the goal setting process. If you wanted merchandise that exceeded your point total, your only recourse was to find another improvement idea. I took goal setting one step further.
The atta boy letters that accompanied the points award checks were too pretty to throw away. One day, I noticed I had collected quite a few of them. This is when my goal changed from obtaining merchandise to averaging one improvement per month.
This challenging goal pushed me to my limit. After five years on the job, I was finally motivated to read the voluminous quality assurance manual and the product specification manuals. I looked for trends in reams of consumer complaints. I listened to anyone with a problem. In three years, I initiated forty-two improvements. Only a couple of my suggestions were rejected. One of those rejected, using an incident journal for each machine, was a subject in one of my future MBA classes. The procedure of comparing machine data to customer complaints reveals the optimal machine settings/procedures.
I learned every problem has a solution. Some come easy; others take time. Lessons learned are transferable to other occupations/industries.
My present goal is to help you succeed at lean. To succeed, you must answer the employee question, “What’s in it for me?” This might be the best answer:
Lean skills are the same skills inventors utilize. Hence, instead of training employees to be better employees, we will train employees to be entrepreneurs.