I’ll never forget the first time I actually experienced first-hand how important it is to share improvement ideas. Like many people, I often made little improvements to my work – it just made sense to do that.
I was reviewing Quick n’ Easy Kaizens with a small group of three accountants a few months back. Something really interesting happened. The situation starts with one of the accountants sharing her QnEK of posting the 5 most commonly used expense codes right on her cubical wall. People were constantly coming up to her to ask her for them – interrupting her work or causing them to wait if she was on the phone or away from her desk.
The interesting thing to me was that it wasn’t until she shared her improvement with the others that they even realized this was a situation that had opportunity for improvement. The group talked discussed her improvement, and other improvements they could make to the situation. One of them suggested emailing those 5 common codes around to everyone that used them. This was good in the sense that the three of them were talking, and building off of each other. After a few minutes of discussion, the third person in the group very excitedly shared that those codes could go right on the expense reports. This would completely eliminate the need for anyone to look up the codes because they are right there, where the work happens.
I think this situation represents some of the hidden beauties of a good QnEK program. When people get in the mood of improving together, their ideas bounce off each other and grow from each other. If these three people didn’t communicate about the situation and the improvements, minimal improvements would have been made. Not only did the accounting department end up with more correct expense reports to process, but they were able to eliminate unnecessary movement, prevent defects and reduce waiting for many others.