Many years ago newspapers lined the streets of almost every city in the world. People would gather at the "newspaper stands" and browse each page while sharing a story or two. Word of mouth and the rugged ink stained paper were the main drivers of news, suggestions and ideas.
Today we still have ideas and suggestions, but things aren't quite as simple as the good ole days. Today making a suggestion often involves filling out a tedious small slip with more information than you can even read, shoving it in a bin that nobody collects and then hoping it get's "approved." Here's the idea, workers see it all, touch it all and often have the closest connection for improvements. That connection can act as the perfect vehicle for suggestions and ideas and you don't have to walk to a newspaper stand to do it.
The Kaizen template or improvement newspaper is a method for employees to suggest opportunities for improvements without necessarily having a solution. Sounds a bit crazy doesn't it? That is because it is, why should someone have to have a fix to give a suggestion. The Kaizen template enables employees to support improvements whether they have a fix or not. Generally they will capture a few pieces of information on them.
Like any other lean tool the kaizen template works best when it is made visible. Here are a few important things to keep in mind when using improvement newspapers for a suggestion system.
Make it Visible
Like we mentioned earlier improvement newspapers should not be contained within a network or hard drive they are best made visible. One advantage to using a computer to fill out the suggestion is that there will be no sorting through legible and illegible papers. You can fill the paper out and print it out, placing it in an area where everyone can see the idea.
Keep them Alive
About the era when tv was in full swing and computers began to emerge newspaper stands were laid to rest. Now we get quarter machines by selected restaurants and no more standing with our friends sharing the latest happenings. Fortunately Kaizen templates are far from dead. They are in fact one very effective way to obtain opportunities for improvement but they must be kept alive. Monitoring the suggestions during a huddle is one way to keep status up to date and ensure that each suggestion is moving forward.
If you have ever used a new tv changer there is a bit of a learning curve to it. Directions in hand and a thousand different settings to program it will never be as simple as walking to the newspaper stand to get some information. The same principle should apply to our kaizen templates or improvement papers. Not everyone knows how to use excel and not everyone will understand the process right from the start. That makes it the perfect opportunity to train employees and go for a gemba walk. The bottom line, make it easy for the people filling the papers out. The only thing that employees should be responsible for is filling out the template and doing their best to discover the root cause.
Although we may never see newspaper stands lining the streets again kaizen templates or improvement newspapers could line the huddle boards of your organization, capturing innovative ideas from employees and driving improvement initiatives and the tool won't even cost you a quarter.
If you would like a free template for a Kaizen/Improvement newspaper just click on the button below.
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