20 Questions for Leaders 5/20 Ideas

From 20 Questions for leaders:

Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?

In my opinion ideas can come from anywhere within the organisation.

No one has cornered the market in good ideas, although some might like to think that they have.

Whilst working for a company in north America, I was given a task of running a project to reduce operational running costs.

I was told by some of the senior management that this was not possible, everything had been done to optimise costs.

But as I started with the project, and had some quick wins, and people could see I was committed to the project, people would come up to me secretly and tell me about ideas that they had had for saving money.

It was unbelievable how many ideas people had, and great ideas at that. Our mainframe operator, thought it would be possible to eliminate one of our three mainframes by sharing its load across this other two with just a small increase in their capacity. This increase would costs us $100k but save us $1m per annum.

When I asked him why we hadn’t done this before he said that his previous manager hadn’t wanted to listen. He clearly didn’t think anyone so low in the organisation could have a great idea.

Within a year, by implementing all of these ideas we achieved the saving $20m per annum.

The only idea I had was to set a bold target at $20m, all of the actual saving ideas came from within the organisation, from many different sources.

I always find it strange too, that we often have to bring in consultants to tell us what we already know, because we won’t listen to it from our own people.

This is what makes me believe that great ideas can come from anywhere, we just need to listen out for them.

Where do you think ideas come from? Are they restricted to come just from senior management?

Let me know I’d be really interested.