Ideas are Free: How the Idea Revolution is Liberating People and Transforming Organizations

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A worker in one of Europe's largest wireless communication companies showed his manager how to repair an error that was costing the company $30 million per year. A secretary at Grapevine Canyon Ranch proposed a simple change to pull the company's website to the top of search engines. These are just two of many examples in "Ideas Are Free that highlight the single best resource in a company—those frontline employees who can see those telling little details that escape managers. Based on extensive research with ...

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Ideas Are Free: How the Idea Revolution Is Liberating People and Transforming Organizations

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Overview

A worker in one of Europe's largest wireless communication companies showed his manager how to repair an error that was costing the company $30 million per year. A secretary at Grapevine Canyon Ranch proposed a simple change to pull the company's website to the top of search engines. These are just two of many examples in "Ideas Are Free that highlight the single best resource in a company—those frontline employees who can see those telling little details that escape managers. Based on extensive research with hundreds of companies around the world and in every major field, this practical book shows how to draw the most useful ideas from frontline employees and, in the process, significantly improve the atmosphere—and success quotient—of any organization.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Front-line workers have long known they have the real scoop on the day-to-day operations of their organization. But this concept has escaped many managers, who have therefore been unable to use their employees' insights to help cut costs, improve service, and achieve greater efficiency. So management professors Robinson (Univ. of Massachusetts; Corporate Creativity) and Schroeder (Valparaiso Univ.) have teamed up for an energetic examination of the "idea revolution" framework. They show how organizations can move away from the scientific management model that expects workers to do instead of think and accept a culture that values the experience, creativity, and ideas of the rank and file. They address the fundamentals of idea programs and reward schemes-how to implement and nourish them and then keep them from running amok. The authors' research took them to 150 different businesses and organizations in 17 countries, and the numerous illustrations drawn from these contacts lend animation to an already interesting topic. Recommended for all business collections.-Carol J. Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin, Whitewater Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
At a Massachusetts Department of Correction facility, a guard proposed a change in the way pictures were taken of new inmates. Instead of using film, why not use digital cameras and store the images in a database? Across the department's 16 correctional facilities, this idea saved $56,000 the first year in film alone.

When accounting for oil purchases, a staffer in a regional distribution center at Deutsche Post, the German post office, noticed that the company was paying too much for the engine oil for its trucks. Drivers were buying oil at roadside service stations, paying the equivalent of $8.50 per liter. After some research, he found that Deutsche Post could buy the oil in bulk for a quarter of the price and proposed that it do so. Today, the idea is being implemented at distribution centers across Germany. With tens of thousands of diesel trucks and vans on the road, Deutsche Post will save millions of euros every year.

A Quiet Revolution
A quiet revolution is underway - an idea revolution - led by managers and supervisors who, in a small but growing number of companies, have learned how to listen systematically to their employees. With each implemented idea, performance improves in some way. Some time or money is saved, someone's job becomes a little easier, the customer experience is enhanced, or the organization is improved in some other way. With large numbers of ideas coming in, performance improves dramatically. And as employees see their ideas used, they know they are having an impact on their organization and become more engaged in their work.

This quiet revolution liberates people and transforms the way that organizations are run, and it changes the nature of the relationship between managers and their employees. While still president of BIC Corp., Ray Winter observed the following about the effect of his company's idea system on the corporate culture: "This system has taught my managers real respect for their employees. My managers have learned that their employees can make them look awfully good, if they only let them."

Ideas are the engine of progress. They improve people's lives by creating better ways to do things. They build and grow successful organizations and keep them healthy and prosperous. Without the ability to get new ideas, an organization stagnates and declines, and eventually will be eliminated by competitors who do have fresh ideas.

An idea begins when a person becomes aware of a problem or opportunity, however small. Most ideas are common sense. They don't require particular insight or much creativity.

Leading Indicators
CEO of Wainwright Industries Don Wainwright believes that most business leaders manage from financial measures - that is, lagging indicators that impart mostly historical information. On the other hand, the most important indicator he uses is the number of ideas implemented in the previous week. To him, this is the best leading indicator of his company's future performance. If he gets this number right, a great deal will follow.

When managers first realize the value in the ideas of their employees, it is a profoundly liberating experience. When they learn how to go after these ideas, they also learn that it is well worth the time and effort. Ideas are free. Employees become allies in solving problems, spotting opportunities, and moving the company forward, to the benefit of all. And when managers decide to let their employees think alongside them - and no longer seek to go it alone - they will have joined the Idea Revolution.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781576752821
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/11/2004
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 1.01 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2004

    A Creative And Outstanding Book!

    Ideas are Free is creative, interesting and well written. What a pleasure to read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2004

    Insightful!

    Authors Alan G. Robinson and Dean M. Schroeder articulate a plain, obvious truth that hierarchical executives and managers may sometimes ignore: often the best ideas come not from the top, but from the little guy working in the cubicle or out on the assembly line. Their book predicts an 'idea revolution,' where companies realize that their employees' ideas are among their companies' most valuable resources. The book reviews the basics of how to set up an idea-generating system, how to reward employees effectively and how to keep managerial egos out of the way. The authors discuss several case studies that demonstrate the power of a good idea. A new idea? No. One is reminded of Andre Gide, who said, 'Everything has already been said, but because nobody was listening, we keep having to start all over again at the beginning.' We recommend this book to any manager, executive or business owner who seeks powerful organizational improvements based on individual insight, creativity and innovation. Go ask a customer service clerk how to make things better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2004

    Best Book I've Read In Ages

    I loved this book. The authors made it easy to understand complicated ideas. It has helped me at work and I feel confident that it could help others. Read this book and you won't be disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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