A large manufacturing firm with 50 manufacturing sites, 200 sales /
service offices, and several R&D / product development labs worldwide
had an innovation and quality award program that they wanted to revamp.
While the rules and nomination forms were developed centrally, the actual
awards process was handled locally by each plant and regional sales
group. The final list of winners was sent to the corporate office where
customized trophies were purchased then shipped to each winner's location.
The manufacturer decided they needed a more centralized process for
collecting nominations, judging the winners, and making the winners'
ideas more widely available to everyone in the firm. They also wanted
to more closely track the name, location, and role of each team member
since many teams involved multiple locations and people with various
Action: Working as a technology consultant and project
manager, we first reviewed the documents and procedures used in past
years. The procedure was changed to require that all nominations be
submitted through a Intranet web site. The nomination form was revised
to require the nominator to clearly state what problem was being studied,
how the problem was studied and what data was collected, what proposed
solution was implemented, the technical impact of the change, and finally
the economic impact of the change. Additionally, each team member was
identified both by name, location, and by team function so that only
major contributors would be included. Nominators were encouraged to
submit electronic versions of supporting information in the form of
documents, spreadsheets, drawings, or digital photos. The revised rules
and nomination forms were distributed to all plant and other office
locations. Posters (in several languages) announcing the contest were
designed, printed, and sent to all major employee locations.
When the nominator completed the form and submitted it, an email was
sent both to the responsible site coordinator for the innovation program
and to the coordinator at headquarters. This allowed a spreadsheet to
be updated daily to keep management appraised about which projects had
been submitted and how many submissions were generated by each site.
The goal was to get at least 1-2 submissions per 100 employees from
each location. Those sites not actively participating were encouraged
to provide additional submissions. Several emails were broadcast to
all employees reminding them of the upcoming deadline for nominations.
At the end of the one month contest period, each site chose their finalists,
one team per 100 employees. A central committee then reviewed the web-based
nomination forms from all the finalists to verify the technical and
economic significance of their innovations. A personalized congratulatory
letter was immediately sent to each winning team member, followed within
a month by a certificate and distinctive trophy.
Result: Over 80 teams (involving almost 500 people)
were nominated, and 60 teams (400 people) were judged to be winners.
The total estimated values of all the savings greatly exceeded the modest
cost of the program. All the winning ideas were then made available
on an Intranet site so that other sites could view the innovative ideas
and determine if any could be adopted at their site also.