Employee Involvement

A number of years ago in a conversation with W. Edwards Deming, the acknowledged father of effective quality assurance, he said, “If you want to know what’s going on and how to fix it, ask the employee who’s doing the work.”

That makes a lot of sense especially when various components of a product have to fit with great precision. In fact, I understand that the Cross Pen Company has authorized each work station to stop production if a defect shows up. The result is a high quality product and significant cost savings…the problem is resolved at it’s outset rather than a some later time.

So, how can we involve employees in the strategic planning process? One way we developed while consulting with an occupational health organization was to

  • let employees know we were having a planning process,
  • invite them to submit changes/goals on 3×5 cards, and
  • assure them that all submissions would be considered.

About 300 cards were received and clerically sorted into half a dozen groups for consideration by the executive staff, no ideas were discarded. The cards became a resource for the management team during a facilitated session to develop priority goals for short and long-term activities of the corporation.

The concept was well received and the proposed goals submitted by employees were invaluable in adopting a strategic plan for which each employee felt some ownership and responsibility.