Being Open to Ideas from Everyone

The best ideas don’t always come from the guys in the office or from the people in charge.

Once upon a time, I was part of a team that received an extraordinary opportunity. A customer called, told us that they had received a big order and they needed as many pallets as we could build as fast as we could build them.

That had never happened to us before. It has not happened since.

Excited by the opportunity, the owners and the managers got in a huddle. We came up with a schedule. We decided we would tell the customer our number was 40,000.

We were preparing to go in the plant and tell them what was occurring. But, before we did, we came up with an idea: “Let’s don’t tell them the number we came up with in the office. Let’s tell them about the opportunity and ask them how many they can build.”

So we did.

They came up with a different organizational plan. They figured a faster way to cut the lumber needed. When they were done, the number from those doing the work was 52,000.

The difference ended up being another $300,000 a month in sales. It made us a hero with the customer. It helped to move our company to a wholly different level.

I’ve heard that half of learning is learning. The other half of learning is unlearning things that you thought you “knew.”

That’s the humility and healthy doubt I was speaking about yesterday. I’ve learned that many times the best ideas can come from someone else other than me and the rest of the leaders. And, it will serve our team well if we make it possible for those ideas to come forward.



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Posted in: Communication, Improvement, Leadership, Lean, Teamwork

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