Ask Employees How to Fix It

Light BulbOptimists believe that two data points constitute a trend.  So here’s a trend.  Ask employees why things don’t work and how to fix them!

TSA Idea Factory. A couple years ago, the Transportation Security Administration asked its employees how to make the airport security operation better.  It dubbed this effort the “TSA Idea Factory.”  It allows all 43,000 employees spread across hundreds of airports to raise ideas on-line and share them with colleagues who then can rate them as good ideas, or not.

The system has been declared a success and 300 new ideas are submitted every month.  Four staff sort through the ideas and will bring in the individuals with winning proposals to have them participate in implementing them.

VA Benefit Process Reengineering. The Veterans Benefits Administration has been criticized for years for its slow benefits decision-making process.  Veterans can wait years for a decision on their applications for benefits.  There have been task forces, congressional hearings, critical news stories, and angry veterans – all demanding change.

A few weeks ago, the VA decided to ask the people who work in the system what needs to be fixed.  In a Federal News Radio interview, Chief Technology Officer Peter Levine said the Department has launched an Innovation Competition, where the 19,000 employees in the Benefits office can offer their solutions.  While there is no prize for the winner, there is a promise to fund the winning project  This approach mimics the crowdsourcing efforts of InnoCentive and others in the private sector.

Do you have examples to add?