Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

How To Encourage Workers To Suggest Innovation?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the participatory-employment dept.

Businesses 281

An anonymous reader writes "The software company where I work has an Innovation and Knowledge program that encourages workers to provide ideas for new products and suggestions to improve the work place, productivity or welfare. The ideas and suggestions are evaluated by a board that decides whether they should be implemented or not. The group of workers with more ideas participates in a raffle to receive a prize. I would like to know what other programs people have seen like this and how they differ. What is the best way to encourage workers to suggest new products to be made / researched by the company?"

cancel ×

281 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Alcohol (5, Interesting)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848529)

They'll also suggest a whole bunch of other, probably not so helpful stuff.

Like maybe residuals and royalties (5, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849065)

An idea for a software program is not unlike an idea for a book, a poem, or a song. I suggest that if a company *really* wants innovation, that they offer 1% royalties that are not negated by loss of employment. That way, a good software developer may, after 10 or 30 years of coding, actually be able to retire.

Re:Like maybe residuals and royalties (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849261)

after 10 or 30 years of coding, actually be able to retire.

That's quite a liberal range. I wonder where you got those numbers from.

Re:Like maybe residuals and royalties (1)

Chris Snook (872473) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849317)

I believe you mis-spelled "equity".

Ownership interest (4, Interesting)

HBI (604924) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848533)

That was easy.

Re:Ownership interest (4, Interesting)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848667)

A company I used to work for was really into Kaizan. They did profit sharing, and a metric in deciding how much was received in profit sharing was Kaizan participation. It resulted in a lot of dull ideas, but the shear mass of input resulted in a number of good ideas on a pretty regular basis.

Re:Ownership interest (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848799)

Didn't Homer Simpson suggest Kaizan to Burns? Didn't he also risk losing his job because of this rather bizarre Eastern philosophy? I believe this was when Simpson discovered a hair growth formula. I would suggest Rogaine over Kaizan to improve work place productivity.

Re:Ownership interest (1)

AaxelB (1034884) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848765)

I had an idea somewhat similar to ownership interest, but with more of a direct payout. You could keep track of who submits what idea, and if it becomes something worthwhile/profitable (either through that person's own work or someone else running with it) they get nice bonuses. That way people have the motivation to bring up truly innovative ideas, but can't game the system with crap ideas.

Of course, you'll still have the problem of new ideas being stifled in bureaucracy, or asshats predicting what the company would do anyway and trying to cash in.

Re:Ownership interest (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849389)

Of course, you'll still have the problem of new ideas being stifled in bureaucracy, or asshats predicting what the company would do anyway and trying to cash in.

Sounds like it. From the Anonymous Coward who posted the question to Slashdot:

The ideas and suggestions are evaluated by a board that decides whether they should be implemented or not. The group of workers with more ideas participates in a raffle to receive a prize.

I would suspect that any good ideas that Slashdotters come up with (like, so far, profit sharing, which seems to be the most popular) will likely go through a committee process where it is deemed uneconomic because it will divert funds from Management bonuses. That's the theory anyways. Theory always trumps reality in the workplace.

Re:Ownership interest (3, Insightful)

geoskd (321194) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848841)

That was easy.

It's even easier than that. All you really have to do is convince your employees that their suggestion might actually get used, and most of them would be perfectly happy to make suggestions just for the bragging rights of being able to say "that was my idea". any kind of public recognition is a bonus, monetary compensation would be top notch, but is by no means necessary.

The company I work for, by contrast, makes it quite plain that our ideas are not only unwanted but that we should stop trying to waste their time with our ramblings. So be it.

-=Geoskd

Re:Ownership interest (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26848849)

Ownership was the first word that came to my mind when I read this question. I would be a lot more likely to share my ideas if I got credit for them, and some sort of reward (monetary) for the success of the idea. I don't need a free toaster, or the 'possibility' of receiving a prize between me and 100 other people who had ideas. The best idea will win out, and when it does the person who had it should be compensated. Especially in a software development field, given enough hours I can make my own idea a reality that translates into money in my pocket, but I'd share it with the company if it translated a lot quicker.

I hate the idea of giving away the rights to an idea because you pitch the idea to your employer.

Re:Ownership interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26848925)

find . -maxdepth l -name "*.xml" -type f -exec sed -i 's/FrequencyInSeconds="600"/FrequencyInSeconds=10"/'{} \;

Re:Ownership interest (5, Informative)

lgw (121541) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849033)

It's common in "real" engineering contexts to reward the suggester with a percentage of the value of the idea. For example, a chemical plant might have a suggestion box (anyone can contribute, engineer or not) for lowering the cost of the plant's processes. For any idea they use they'll pay you 10% of the money saved, capped at $1 million. This is actually fairly common, and most plants have a history of large payouts.

Ownership doesn't come into it: no one's getting stock. But a $1 million check is still a great motivator. You just need a reward proportional to the value of the idea, plus a clear way to establish ownership of suggestions (the second guy to suggest the $1 million idea is going to be annoyed).

exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26849249)

I wouldn't bother unless I'm seeing some direct non-trivial benefit. A pat on the back or public recognition without that is almost worthless to me.

use a gun (1, Offtopic)

Gearoid_Murphy (976819) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848547)

weaponised innovation i call it

Re:use a gun (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849235)

Indeed. The rack or the stocks are also useful.

< Jack Bauer voice > Come on!! We need your ideas! We're running out of time here!!! You know what I'm capable of! < /Jack Bauer voice >

First idea (4, Funny)

srussia (884021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848549)

Whatever you do, discard all first suggestions. They're all just wannabe first posters.

Criticism is better (5, Insightful)

Sigvatr (1207234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848551)

I think first companies need to make employees feel comfortable criticizing their superiors.

Re:Criticism is better (3, Insightful)

Dusty00 (1106595) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848823)

Seconded.

The fact that you have to offer incentives to get employees to make suggestions seems to indicate your current environment is not conducive to suggestions. Rather than try and think of ways to get get employees more involved, you may want to be asking/posing the question to your superiors: Why aren't our employees more involved?

Re:Criticism is better (4, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848977)

The employees are extremely comfortable doing this. It's the superiors who need some work here.

Re:Criticism is better (3, Funny)

davejenkins (99111) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849413)

Sigvatr! Get back to work and stop screwing around on the Slashdots!

Prizes and Royalties (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26848561)

Cash bonuses, salary increase, and royalty upon successful product would do it. Of course, it would depend on the definition of "success".

Re:Prizes and Royalties (5, Interesting)

DragonFodder (712772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848625)

Agree with that, at the very least the idea of a raffle for a prize pretty much sucks. So I come up with an idea that could save the company thousands, or even millions of dollars. and, I get a toaster oven. nice incentive.

Make it a percentage of the cost savings as a lump bonus and you'll not only get more suggestions, you'll get onces that actually have some thought and implementation plans put into them.

Re:Prizes and Royalties (2)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848695)

So I come up with an idea that could save the company thousands, or even millions of dollars. and, I get a toaster oven. nice incentive.

Not even. The company rewards you for your million-dollar idea by giving you a CHANCE to win a toaster oven. Gee, thanks.

Re:Prizes and Royalties (3, Funny)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848801)

So I come up with an idea that could save the company thousands, or even millions of dollars. and, I get a toaster oven. nice incentive.

Not quite. Its a raffle, so you might get a toaster oven. Or you might not. Nobody knows! You're intrigued -- I can tell.

Re:Prizes and Royalties (2, Insightful)

javilon (99157) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849149)

Make it a percentage of the cost savings as a lump bonus and you'll not only get more suggestions, you'll get onces that actually have some thought and implementation plans put into them.

I agree. If you give ideas of yours to your company and your work is not actually producing ideas, you should get a "royalty". The company should make sure that a proper mechanism exists to assign the idea a monetary value. Get accounting to produce numbers for it and give the person that came up with the idea a percentage of the money gained/saved during that time.

Ideally, a worker could retire if his idea is so good as to make loads of money for the company. At the end of the day that is an executive/consultant job. And this kind of people get showered in millions even when they fail miserably like in the current crisis.

Re:Prizes and Royalties (1)

Flammon (4726) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849233)

There's a company in m my area that gives their employees 50% of the money saved during the first year. One of the employees came up with an idea that saved them $100,000.00 in long distance bills. At the end of the year, he got a bonus of $50,000.00

Oh, I know, I know! (3, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849241)

I think the best thing a company can do is make the employee sign a contract that everything he thinks of belongs to the company. Doesn't matter if he thinks of it at work, or on the way to/from, or during Sunday School. And the inventor must never ever divulge or utilize his own idea in any context, except at work (if the employer decides to use it).

If that's not a sure-fire recipe for employees giving you their best ideas, then I don't know what is.

Re:Prizes and Royalties (2, Interesting)

sitarah (955787) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849421)

My company can have a few of my ideas, with no monetary compensation, because I know that ideas are useless without the means to execute them. I do not have the audience or the resources to do what they can. I could do nothing with that idea. I gain nothing by keeping it. If I give it away, and the company does it, either customers' lives, employees' lives, or the market is enriched. Why sit on it?

If it is an idea I can execute on my own, like a book plot, a startup site, or a new type of spoon, then yes, I'll keep it. However, how many of the ideas people would offer at work are really like that?

With that distinction made, the "Pay me for my idea that I can't actually make happen on my own" sentiment I am seeing modded +5 right now is in conflict with the Slashdot meme of "patents should expire for people who do nothing with them." In both cases, people want a reward for ideas they cannot execute. The difference is that patents actively stop other people from executing the ideas, but the underlying belief in both statements is still that an idea alone is worth something. Which is it?

Re:Prizes and Royalties (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848699)

What happens when your idea fails... Oh lets fire the janitor because his suggestion on how to improve productivity has failed.

That said rewarding a successful idea by bonus/raises/job security etc. Is a good way because it keep him part of the process not just a blank idea which could save the company millions and is sill struggling day to day.

Re:Prizes and Royalties (3, Insightful)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849055)

Oh lets fire the janitor because his suggestion on how to improve productivity has failed.

Corrected version:

Oh lets fire the janitor because his suggestion I have plagiarized on how to improve productivity has succeeded.

And I personally think that giving away bonuses would only increase tension and discrimination inside of teams.

I prefer simpler idea suggested above: permit to criticize management and their decisions. Ban on criticism is essentially what most often leads to disappearance of discussions. Healthy discussion is what drives innovation.

Define innovation (4, Interesting)

Gribflex (177733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848565)

I think it's important to define what you are looking for.
At my company, we had a very similar project for a long time. I always thought innovation meant some incredible break through, or new product line. Turns out, some innovations that were accepted were changes to our coffee vendor, and tests for our new development folk (standard practice in my office, but considered innovative at one of our other sites.)

Had I know what the quality bar was at the beginning of the project, I would have submitted all kinds of stuff. As it was, I was just waiting for a really great idea.

Re:Define innovation (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848953)

I think it's important to define what you are looking for.

Yeah, where I work, people make innovative suggestions all of the time. It's usually management that thinks the ideas are either too far out, or doesn't want to fund development.

Re:Define innovation (1)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849217)

This is actually a common mistake by staff and management. The saying goes "tell my 100 ways to improve business one percent, not one way to improve business ninety-nine percent". The light-bulb moments were great ideas come forward are pretty rare and more often than not are a actually seen as a mistake when they are first seen or discovered. So if you have some silly idea or you find something annoying is happening in your work space and you have an idea on how to fix it, speak up, because in this day and age of pink slips being delivered by the truck full clever people are an asset not to be thrown out.

empowerment 20% of the time. (4, Insightful)

neo (4625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848571)

Google let's their employees work on their own interesting side projects for 20% of their time. It's resulted in some of their best innovations. The employee is responsible for keeping the project up to date and Google owns it, obviously.

What motivates people is recognition.

Re:empowerment 20% of the time. (3, Insightful)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848729)

What motivates people is recognition

Recognition doesn't pay the bills. If an idea that makes or saves the company money is rewarded with a healthy bonus, you're apt to get more suggestions than if you hand out a crappy paperweight and a slap on the back.

Re:empowerment 20% of the time. (5, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848883)

At my current employer, all we get is the slap on the back. Because of the bad economy, there's no chance for a raise or bonus, but they've sent us all an email asking us to please continue working hard and coming up with innovative ideas. Yeah, right.

Any innovative ideas I come up will be kept hidden until I'm out of here.

Re:empowerment 20% of the time. (2, Interesting)

jeillah (147690) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849017)

My company is about the same. At one time they did have a program that was supposed to foster innovation but it seemed that most of the really good ideas got so bogged down in their "innovation" committee that nothing ever came of it. When will they ever learn that few really good ideas come out of a committee???

Re:empowerment 20% of the time. (2, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849123)

I forgot to mention they recently cut back our patent reward program. There used to be awards for disclosure, filing, granted patents, bonuses for large numbers of patents (5x, 10x, etc.), trade secret awards, publication awards, etc. They cut all that back so now there's a single patent filing award and that's it. But they assure us they'll continue to provide a mechanism for recognition, even though we won't get any money. Yeah, I'm sure people will redouble their efforts in coming up with patentable ideas.

Re:empowerment 20% of the time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26848911)

Recognition doesn't pay the bills.

Correct. The company you choose to work for instead of going it alone with your idea pays the bills. If you get to develop your idea with company time and resources (ala google) aren't they paying you for your idea?

Re:empowerment 20% of the time. (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849035)

Indeed. The paperweight and slap on the back are generally accompanied by a new line on your resume in order to get a better/better paying job.

(May I also say that I love the sig? =])

Re:empowerment 20% of the time. (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848739)

I'm going to reply to this post backwards if you don't mind.

What motivates people is recognition.

That's one of the things. A guy named Frederick Hertzberg suggested that employees are motivated by a hierarchy of needs.

They start at the very low levels: Physical Environment, Salary, Job Security, Status, etc.

Then they proceed to higher levels. Recognition is actually the second highest motivator, and it certainly is a motivator for some. But Google is actually a good example of Hertzberg's highest motivator which is achievement: people are motivated by the work itself. Self-actualization.

Google let's their employees work on their own interesting side projects for 20% of their time. It's resulted in some of their best innovations. The employee is responsible for keeping the project up to date and Google owns it, obviously.

Google's employees get to pitch side projects and suggest them to management. IOW, they get to work on what interests them. They are motivated by the actual work. Real Google products started as side projects.

Re:empowerment 20% of the time. (5, Informative)

An. (Coward) (258552) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848929)

A guy named Frederick Hertzberg suggested that employees are motivated by a hierarchy of needs.

They start at the very low levels: Physical Environment, Salary, Job Security, Status, etc.

Then they proceed to higher levels. Recognition is actually the second highest motivator, and it certainly is a motivator for some. But Google is actually a good example of Hertzberg's highest motivator which is achievement: people are motivated by the work itself. Self-actualization.

That was Abraham Maslow.

Re:empowerment 20% of the time. (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849165)

I don't know if it's so much a psychological "self-actualization" thing as much as it's just simply doing what you like to do. I've done tons of programming (and indeed, got into it in the first place) simply because it was interesting and I liked doing it.

And, I might add that if Google "lets" their employees work 20% of their time on side projects, that means Google is PAYING them 20% of their salary, essentially, to do those side projects. "For google," still, sure, but it's on Google's time and on Google's salary... isn't that more or less the definition of the perfect job? Getting paid to do what you like and want to do?

Re:empowerment 20% of the time. (1)

Flammon (4726) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848955)

Rate parent up. It deserves a 5.

Mandatory time (1)

amclay (1356377) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848575)

Some companies mandate that a certain percentage of their employee's time should be dedicated to innovation. I know one that does is J. M. Smuckers (I believe). They mandate 15% of their time. Those who want to innovate can, and those who don't, get some time off, which improves their morale. Win-Win.

Money (1)

Slightly Askew (638918) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848579)

Failing that...more money.

In capitalist America... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26848593)

In capitalist America, Innovation suggests you!

All I can think of is Simpsons (5, Funny)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848623)

Homer: [watching vending machine] Apple... Apple... Apple... come on, Candy Bar... [looking at an apple in the machine] Hey, I know you! You're that first apple I didn't want! That sinks it! I'm really gonna get let them have it this time! [writing on a notepad next to the suggestion box] No more apples in the vending machine PLEASE!! Then Mr. Burns gets it and reads it in a demeaning voice "Oh, don't worry, there will be plenty of apples in the vending machine."

Re:All I can think of is Simpsons (1)

Sigvatr (1207234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848871)

Obviously employers DO NOT need to use reverse psychology.

Simple (2, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848643)

What is the best way to encourage workers to suggest new products to be made / researched by the company?
"Ever since the Phoenicians invented money, there has been only one answer to that question." -- Clarence Darrow

I don't understand the question? (3, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848663)

Your question is a little confusing - It's not clear to me whether you're asking for a mechanism for employees to make suggestions to 'improve the workplace' ("Gee it sure would be nice to have a ping pong table!") or a mechanism for them to make suggestions for feature improvements ("We should build a Linux version of your application!").

If it's the former, be careful. Generally, employee suggestions for workplace improvements cost money (real or perceived), be it "pizza Friday," a ping pong table or better telecommuting policies. Unless you have buy-in from upper management for a genuine $$$ budget for 'morale' these requests just to into a black hole, so why bother providing the mechanism? Make sure you have a budget first.

If it's the latter, I've never worked for a company yet that didn't have a shortage of employee suggestions of good ideas for a given product. Sales is full of suggestions. The tricky part is having a mechanism to evaluate & estimate those suggestions, build business cases and all that tricky stuff...

Ideas are the easy part, they need to implement. (1)

Whatsisname (891214) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848685)

Ideas are easy to come by, frankly they are pretty much worthless.

If you want innovation, you have to give them time to somewhat implement their ideas on their own. The implementation will require them to further refine their thoughts and work out some of the kinks, and interesting projects will inspire others to build off it. Furthermore, they have to be able to work on whatever they want, any hoop they have to jump through, anyone who has to decide if its worth other than themselves, while stifle creative spirit.

don't suggest innovation, just innovate (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848701)

Give employees half a day a week in which they should work on any side project they want (like google). Monthly, have a lunch meeting where people can discuss cool things they've been doing, ideas that came from it, etc.

Human Resource Management is where the money is (5, Interesting)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848709)

How To Encourage Workers To Suggest Innovation?

1) Pay "workers" for each suggestion.
2) Ensure that each "worker" is made aware that the "worker" owns the ideas he submits to the company, and that the company will offer to license the ideas from the "worker" if Management deems the ideas "good enough" to implement
3) Ensure that the following are NOT offered as incentives: "raffles", "prizes" and (like one company I worked for offered, the "opportunity" to win the privilege of having breakfast with a Manager). This should be common sense for ANYBODY who has studied Management, the Social Sciences, Psychology, etc. But unfortunately the type of people who get into Human Resource Management don't usually have the brightest light bulbs.

Re:Human Resource Management is where the money is (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848753)

...the "opportunity" to win the privilege of having breakfast with a Manager. Yeah, but at least you can understand why the manager signed off on this offer -- he gets a free breakfast regardless of what happens!

Re:Human Resource Management is where the money is (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848949)

But unfortunately the type of people who get into Human Resource Management don't usually have the brightest light bulbs.

Well here's a free, innovative idea I'm giving away to all companies: get rid of your Human Resources department! They don't do anything useful, they actually create roadblocks to bringing in good employees, and they cost money. Deming said long ago that HR was a useless function and should be eliminated.

Re:Human Resource Management is where the money is (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848963)

Somewhat along those lines, I would say that the "best" way to encourage suggestions for new products, is to give the employee a piece of the product. Say maybe 1% of the gross revenue (depends on the type of product, sales volume, etc.) or some similar arrangement. That way the employee really feels ownership in a tangible way.

One reason for doing this is: if the employee feels he/she has a good idea, that employee may well be in a position to leave the company and take that idea with them. Keeping it in the company by giving them an honest (and proportional) reward for the idea benefits the company.

I know that some companies/employees have non-compete agreements, but depending on the state they can be weak or even (California) unenforceable.

Give credit where credit is due (3, Interesting)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848723)

Take cues from George Westinghouse instead of Thomas Edison. Edison screwed over Tesla who then took his genius to Westinghouse who then won the war of the currents.

Raffle? WTF? (2, Interesting)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848735)

Do they raffle off other benefits, like health care?

It has already been said -- if you want something of value from your employees, pay them for it. Thats how the whole "work" thing works.

Either pony up the cash or let them use the time they are already paid for to think about how to innovate.

Accept some (4, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848767)

It's very demoralizing when leaders encourage employees to proffer innovative ideas, and then basically ignores them. Or equally bad, shows favoritism in which ones are acted upon.

I can't imagine anything that would shut down employee participation faster than a sense that management isn't actually willing to act on them.

Lean Methodology (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26848783)

Use Lean to encourage them.

I suggest all kinds of good ideas at work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26848793)

and am quickly ignored or ridiculed by management.

Then six months later when they realize I was right, suddenly it's -their- idea, and they want -me- to implement it to save their floundering bacon.

Meanwhile, had they just let me do my damn job and implement the idea at the beginning, they could still have taken all the glory, and saved themselves a lot of egg on the face, and made the work environment actually somewhat enjoyable or rewarding for me.

Instead, I get pissed on up front, pissed on when their pants are on fire, and pissed on when I can't help but say, "I TOLD YOU SO."

Re:I suggest all kinds of good ideas at work... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849031)

So why do you continue to suggest any new ideas?

I gave up on it long, long ago. Nowadays, the only brilliant ideas I offer to management are clearly ridiculous. The last big one was when I heard about how the company was restricting all non-essential travel, because it costs too much. However, travel that involves visiting customers is still OK. My suggestion: get rid of the customers. Then, we can eliminate all travel, and save a bunch of money.

It sounds ridiculous, but we're actually doing a great job working towards that goal, by pissing off customers as much as we can, by giving them shoddy, buggy products, and refusing to build newer, better products for them because we can't get ridiculous profit margins from them on these types of products. So our customers are moving to other vendors.

Go read this book. Best one i've found so far. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26848797)

Zapp! The Lightning Of Empowerment: How To Improve Quality, Productivity, And Employee Satisfaction by William C. Byham, Jeff Cox, Jeff Cox (With), Jeff Cox (Preface by)

-- Michael
(not an anonymous coward, just lazy)

Listen (2, Insightful)

assertation (1255714) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848821)

The biggest deterrent to getting ideas is to ignore advice. If you want to encourage employees to come up with new ideas make them feel like they are seriously listened too.

INNOVATION (1)

slackoon (997078) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848831)

It's 3:40pm on a Friday afternoon, I'm going to go innovate from home :)

money won't do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26848833)

you want to profit from my innovation? sounds like you're giving me part of the company. otherwise you're getting a 9-5 brainless drone, just like you pay me for.

Partial ownership in the PATENT (3, Insightful)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848853)

If I come up with an idea that the company patents, give me partial ownership of the patent. Otherwise I'm keeping my mouth shut until long after my contract expires. There is no incentive when I know the company is making millions and I only get a new iPod.

oh, signs, lot of signs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26848859)

Encourage them with lots of bright banners, exhorting them to new heights of productivity, teamwork, synergy, and don't forget safety!

With each decision... (1)

abh (22332) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848867)

They simply need to ask themselves: Is this good for the company? [flickr.com]

That's easy. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848879)

Money.

Yes, for 99% of us, the answer IS that simple. It really doesn't matter of you make propellers, pizza, or porno, most people know that their idea is likely going to generate the company upwards of millions of dollars. Freaking kills me that 99% of the time, the inventor is left holding the jelly-of-the-month club membership as a "token of appreciation".

Money. Real money. Your company is going to make it. It's only fair you get a decent cut of that.

Re:That's easy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26849039)

Indeed. That recognition crap doesn't work with me or probably other people with healthy self esteem.

Re:That's easy. (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849299)

How about just plain ol' respect?

It comes in many ways. Money, power, or just giving your ideas the consideration they deserve.

Whenever something breaks, I'm the one they turn to. Whenever something difficult needs to be done, my team consults me.

Then every once in awhile my lead will consult me on something, but will give me crap until I come back with the answer he wants to hear rather than the real answer. Usually the reason is because sales/management is involved. It's just disheartening, especially for the length of time I've been here.

Don't steal the IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26848905)

Many companies (like eBay) take ownership of "inventions" made at work, so the best way to get employees to volunteer such inventions is to actually pay them what it's worth.

Not that doesn't stop people from volunteering practical inventions or directions the company should go eg "stop punishing our members for X", but usually big companies that didn't hire people specifically for inventing things, seem to not give a crap about any invention made by staff, and would sooner axe the employee for spending time working on the invention. Even if the invention would have had a net performance increase.

RE: Money go in or get out. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848939)

If you are considering the "money" suggestion you should probably keep the quirks of human psychology in mind. Excluding the stone-cold-homo-economicus types(who are fairly rare in practice), most people can be motivated for almost no money, or a good deal of money; but often won't be motivated by just a little money.

A lot of people voluntarily do valuable work, or come up with valuable ideas, for essentially no money, because there is something else that hooks them. Think Free Software people, various sorts of volunteers, people who do more than they need to at work, and so on. People will also, obviously, be motivated by large amounts of money(large being a relative measure).

The middle ground, though, can be a bad idea. People think about economic and non-economic activity differently. Somebody who would submit a linux kernel patch for free might well be insulted if they were offered rentacoder rates for their work. Somebody who will voluntarily suggest a valuable process improvement just because he takes pride in his work would probably not be pleased by a toaster. This [joelonsoftware.com] is a somewhat interesting piece on the subject.

Either you create an environment that gives people the social warm and fuzzies(this includes paying decent money; but relies on social factors) or you give people real rewards to motivate them. Nobody on a professional salary is going to innovate for condescension and peanuts. They'll innovate because the environment is good and they want to, or for real money.

Oblig? (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848951)

This [youtube.com] was the first thing I thought of. Too bad being pulled into the bosom of a hot chick in a leather or latex power suit and having your hair stroked will never be a common method of promoting innovation. Sigh.

Air Force IDEA program (3, Informative)

Xavyor (772119) | more than 5 years ago | (#26848975)

The US Air Force has the IDEA program that allows anyone who works for them suggest changes to anything. If that change ends up saving money, they cut a check for a percentage of that savings to the person/group who submitted the change.

"Intrapreneurship" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26849023)

This is a field of research usually called "Intrapreneurship". The company 3M is famous for being successful with it. Google it to find some general rules about how to be successful with it.

Whack-a-Mole (1)

Modern_Celt (105567) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849041)

Any thought or suggestion that has not already been approved by management is greeted with a hammer, usually not padded, much like the well loved game Whack-a-Mole.

if my idea was good enough (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849045)

i'd go out and start my own damn company, then interview my former boss for a position

ideas are power in the world of technology. asking your employees to give them to you for a fucking raffle (seriously?) is like buying the island of manhattan for trinkets. if my idea is good enough, i deserve a reward better than something akin to an "employee of the month" plaque at mcdonalds

but don't worry, you'll still get plenty of ideas. all sparse, vague, and minor: you get what you pay for

if you want a serious reply to your question, if you actually want good ideas that actually offers serious enough implications for your company's future OFFER THEM STOCK AND AN EQUITY STAKE

not a fucking raffle. frankly, your quesiton is insulting

Ask The Economist (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849047)

The Economist has its annual Innovation Awards (since 2002). Besides listing the several categories it gives selection criteria. What's not directly applicable to answering the question should at least serve as a parallel example. The recipients are to be individuals rather than corporate, even though the innovation from those individuals may result in a corporate entity.

http://www.economist.com/science/tq/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10676339 [economist.com]

prizes are fine for small ideas...only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26849059)

Come up with something that makes the company millions (or maybe more) and there ought to be a rewards program that specifies that once costs get recouped, the inventor gets a bit of that - fraction of a percent is fine - for as long as it makes this large amount, and whether or not he is then still at that company or not. That will tend to get really significant ideas brought to the table, where knowing that most you can get is a thanks from your unit manager and not a peep from anyone else, tends to keep you from passing ideas on that are not directly in your work assignments. Few experiences are more annoying than having your idea praised, anonymously, in some all hands meeting, remarking how many hundreds of millions it saved the company, and not getting a peep about it at any time later (nor any recognition in your annual review, ever), even though it was your effort that got it to be implemented as well.

Yes but, No but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26849073)

Our company is running a program where all employees will be split into groups of 5-10 to hold idea generating sessions.

One cool thing they coached those of us facilitating these sessions is that it's REALLY easy to kill good ideas before they ever get started.

An exercise that illustrated this was called 'Yes but, No but'. We split up into pairs - first was 'No but'. One person had an idea for our Christmas party, and the other had to constantly find things wrong with the idea. It was really easy to find real reasons why an idea would fail.

The second part was 'Yes but'. This time, the first person shared their idea for the Christmas party, and the second person had to agree with the idea and think about ways that it could work and how to extend it. They weren't allowed to shoot it down.

If you have an idea generating session with people who always try to shoot ideas down, they can die before they really mature from 'thoughts' into 'ideas'.

Budget (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849077)

I did several things recently that improved my company's capability to produce and reduced my budget expenses. Do you know what I got?

I got to keep my budget, so now I can spend it on more things that will increase output.

Unlike some places, where I'd just lose the extra money and thus have to be stupid to try. I never understood that logic.

Show respect, appreciation and follow up. Oh, and (3, Insightful)

aaandre (526056) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849107)

1. Respect their ideas and consider them.
2. If you implement an idea, reciprocate the value with appreciation and acknowledgment for everyone involved.
3. Follow up even on ideas you don't implement and express genuine appreciation for someone taking time out of their day and give you a free piece of advise.
4. Make it safe for people to suggest ideas that may be contrary to what upper management feels is right, convenient or is otherwise uptight about.

Not what you are doing now... (1)

T-Ranger (10520) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849111)

Reviewed by a board, and then maybe, they get a prize after their name is drawn? I see that as total bullshit, treating your employees as children. And thinking you are not, which makes it worse.

Why do I suspect that when you say "prize" you don't mean a million dollars in 20 $50k installments over 20 years? Maybe something like a $10 gift card to Starbucks? Am I close?

How about this: give cash - or stock, not options, stock - to people who's ideas are implemented? Straight up: you have a good idea not within your direct job responsibility, and we implement it, you get cash.

Don't worry about it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26849117)

Seriously, I'll give you a million dollar idea for the chance to win an ePromos deskclock that will mysteriously break in about 4 days. Who could ask for a better reward?

Is it just me or does anyone else reading this think that the poster of the question has no interest in seriously rewarding their workers for going the extra mile? A raffle? A chance to maybe win some "prize" after your workers already put in the extra effort? You must be kidding me.

Frankly, if that's your idea of a reward system you'd be better off not asking and hoping someone in your organization offers up ideas without being asked (or expecting a chance at a reward for that matter). It would probably be better for over all working conditions. I can only imagine that your current "reward" systems breeds contempt among your employees.

Coerced subjects are poor subjects. (1)

danwesnor (896499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849135)

The group of workers with more ideas participates in a raffle to receive a prize.

<SARCASM>Oooh! A raffle for a prize! I might get a stuffed animal! I hope it's a kitty...<SARCASM>

The federal government can award an employee 10% of money saved for a money saving idea (up to a limit). If your company's incentive program is worse than the government's, it's time to polish up the resume.

But really, recognizing your smart employees and having enough respect to listen to them and actually consider what they say, and then giving them the resources they need to pursue their idea is the best incentive you can give. Promoting the clueless is the worst.

The OP's scenario makes me think the whole thing is management's idea of morale boosting and they don't really care what anybody suggests.

Gee, maybe...MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849163)

I'm sorry. Did you miss that? It's MONEY! Real money, significant money. Fair money. NOT "Here's a $1000 dollar bonus for that great idea, kid." That's not a bonus. It's an insult. If that happens once in your organization, you'll never see another innovative idea of any worth. FYI, that *kid* can get funding, develop the idea independently, cover the whole thing up in an offshore corporation and sell online, and the company he works for will never see a dime. If the company wants a cut, they'll have to make it easier and/or more profitable for the kid to give them the idea. All the rest is pop-psych nonsense. There is no loyalty either from or to the organization. There is *nothing* but "Money talks. BS walks."

Good grief Dilbert, it's no wonder (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849193)

The group of workers with more ideas participates in a raffle to receive a prize.

If I was at your company my first thought would be "Oh boy! A chance at being in a group that has a chance of winning a prize! Where do I sign up?"

Come on. Who is going to be enthusiastic about that?

If you want real results, reward everyone who comes up with an idea that gets used. And make it substantial. If you give out a $5 gift certificate, then you're going to get a slew of five dollar ideas.

Instant benefits. (1)

powerslave12r (1389937) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849197)

If the board approves, the employee must receive some instant bonus, and a percentage of whatever profits may be obtained from implementation of the idea or development of the idea. Easy to say, but this will be very tough to implement. But for real innovation, there really has to be something worthwhile for the employee to be gained. Like Google has their pool of new ideas which they fund and the time spent on it is included in each employee's paycheck.

how about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26849259)

I'd say treating people like humans! Where I work people are just machines. The boss could care less. I wouldn't offer a new product idea.

Whatever you do... (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849301)

you need to make the process that happens AFTER suggestions are submitted transparent to the employees.

If they get the feeling that the idea box is a black hole, with no feedback at all on what ideas are being looked at or why some of them aren't such good ideas (or are good but impractical, etc) they won't bother making the effort.

waste of time (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849341)

You will not get good suggestions until people see some ideas put into play and getting recognition for it.

I've been at this place for 3 years and have been spewing out ideas to make things better. Sometimes I get shot down but many times I get the "that a great idea" kudo. But guess what: NOTHING HAPPENS from it.

Now I just don't bother suggesting anything and I'm planning to move on before I go postal. If upper MGMT doesn't give a damn, why should I?

it is very simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26849345)

MONEY!!!!!

Royalties, Royalties, Royalties... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26849357)

Universities pay royalties to those who develop innovation. That is the only universal way to keep people from hoarding their ideas.

I would add one additional motivator and that is if an idea is dismissed by the company, the employee retains all rights to it - and the employer will maintain some confidentiality of the unused idea...

Put the employees in charge if their own work (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849371)

In too many companies, the technical direction is driven not by technical leads, but by MBAs in middle-management. If your individual contributors have to run their innovations by a non-technical manager, your organization is broken, IMO. If you empower your employees not just to "suggest innovation" but to actually innovate, you're far better off. This means putting technical people in charge of setting technical direction, and accommodating an individual's work that was not strictly prescribed at the start of the quarter.

The whole thing about submitting suggestions to a committee reeks of corporate bureaucracy, which is the antithesis of innovation. If you're going to do it like this, do it right and get upper management to buy into the whole idea. The last company I worked for did the whole suggestion-box-to-a-committee thing, but after a few months, just started dumping everyone's suggestions into the bit bucket. This is worse than not having a culture or process for encouraging innovation in the first place.

Actually implement their ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26849377)

I worked for Toyota as an engineering intern at a manufacturing plant. At Toyota, ideas for improvement get rapidly evaluated and implemented.

This is rewarding and the person/people who device the improvements are rewarded. When people see they are being taken seriously they will be altogether more cooperative and helpful. The problem comes when their suggestions are ignored. In my opinion that is inconsiderate/demeaning; even worse than not even asking for their input at all!

Never seen this, but this would intice me (1)

pavera (320634) | more than 5 years ago | (#26849431)

Some form of defined ongoing benefit...

This would really only work for new products/services as opposed to improving existing things I think, but I suggest a new product, with my help the company builds it, I should get some percentage of the profits of said product... If its not profitable, I don't make anything extra.

I have at least 10-20 ideas of new things that should be built at any one time... Sure not all of them are germane to my current employer's business, but at least 5 of them are. Will I give them to this company? No, not unless something like the above is implemented to reward me. 2 or 3 of them I've already implemented in my spare time with my own resources and outside of my contract of employment entirely.. I could turn over a nearly finished product...

With improvements to existing products or services, it would be near impossible to measure the "profitability" of the improvement, so maybe a one time bonus of $100-300 for each improvement that is accepted and implemented.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>