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Why CEOs Hate Suggestion Boxes (It's not what you think)

CEOs of small and medium sized organizations hate suggestion boxes . . . but it's not for the reason that most employees suspect.

It's not because they're arrogant jerks who think they have all the answers. It's not because they're complacent bums who think their company is immune to competition. It's not because they're stupid old farts who just don't get it.

The reason that CEOs hate suggestion boxes is because they care.

They care for their employees insights. They _care _for their employees ideas. They _care _for the passion and energy that employees are pouring into the business when they take the effort to write out their suggestion.

CEOs of small and medium sized businesses don't want to take insights, ideas, passion, and energy and stuff it in a box . . . and they know that's all they'd be doing.

Why? Because they lack an adequate system for processing the feedback and executing the ideas.

How can you solve that problem? Here are our . . . umm . . . suggestions:

  1. ARTICULATE – Clearly define the theory and practice of innovation as it exists at your firm. Use the NFL's exceptional "Beginner's Guide to Football" for inspiration. Use LaunchPath's "Beginner's Guide to Innovation" as a template and first draft. Challenge yourself to create a jargon-free document of less than three pages that any of your employees could read and say, "I get it. I know what my company is talking about when they say 'innovation' and I know how I can participate."
  2. BUDGET – Define the amount of dollars and time you are willing to spend on innovation and make that clear to your organization. It's one thing if you tell your employee you didn't do anything with their idea. It's another if you tell them you considered their idea but it didn't quite make the cut.
  3. IDENTIFY & PRIORITIZE – Establish a clear and disciplined process for identifying & prioritizing innovation opportunities. Both executives and employees need to know that when an idea enters the system, there’s a method for processing that idea and letting the employee know it’s status. For specific thoughts on how to do that, check out Getting Ready to Innovate: How to Define Your Innovation Priorities.
  4. PLAN FOR EXECUTION – There’s no point harvesting ideas at the front-end of innovation if you don’t have the ability to execute on the back-end. Companies need a reliable system for taking ideas all the way through the process and communicating that achievement back to the troops. LaunchPath provides a simple, practical system that was custom-designed to meet the needs of organizations with 20 - 1,000 employees, which you can learn more about on our "How it Works" pages. If you prefer to do it yourself, here are four posts that you may find helpful:

CEOs of small and medium sized businesses yearn to harness the full intellectual might of their people. They yearn to fulfill their organizations innate potential. They are constantly frustrated by their failures and constraints.

Using the recommendations above, you can help your CEO build a system that will not only generate ideas, but will process the ideas and turn them into results.

Your CEO will love you for it. And the suggestion box. :-)

Gray Somerville

Gray Somerville is a serial entrepreneur, innovation expert, and LaunchPath’s CEO. Besides LaunchPath, Gray has helped launch and lead three other successful startups including Telogical Systems and Adacus.

@graysomerville