MAKING THE MOST OF OUR COLLECTIVE BRAIN

All too often innovation can be seen as the sole preserve of a company’s C-suite. But the truth is that colleagues at all levels are very likely to have ideas that can make a real difference to the business. As Gabriela Calin, HR Manager at Güntner in Romania, says: “It’s very often the people who are actually working in the production process, who use our equipment and create our products, who are most aware of where improvements can be made and where new strategies can be introduced.”

This was the thinking behind a new ideation programme called Move Idea Management (MIM) that was launched at Güntner’s Sibiu plant in March, 2023. Part of MOVE, an ongoing programme allowing all colleagues to share ideas, it had two goals. The first was to create an environment that fosters innovation and in which all employees feel a sense of motivation and belonging. And the second was to inspire ideas that could improve business efficiency.

“THE OVERALL AIM OF THE MIM PROGRAMME WAS TO GIVE COLLEAGUES A SENSE OF EMPOWERMENT AND TO INVITE THEM TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES IN ORDER TO CREATE A BETTER FUTURE FOR OUR BUSINESS.”
GABRIELA CALIN HR MANAGER, GÜNTNER

The programme was initially communicated via a teasing campaign using posters and flyers. This was followed by a letter to all of the plant’s 800 employees from Klaus Wittek, General Manager, formally announcing the launch. All colleagues were invited to participate and encouraged to think outside the box in three main areas: adding value to the business; reducing costs; and increasing safety levels. A team of MIM ambassadors was established to help spread the word, and more posters were put up around the plant.

An official form for colleagues to put forward their ideas was made available in hard copies and online via a QR code. A steering committee was set up to run the project and to collate the new ideas, which were divided into two categories: intangible and tangible. The former are those that improve the work experience in some way, and the latter are those with a potential financial return.

Each month, the steering committee meets to decide which suggestions should be validated, and the final decision on putting ideas with medium or high impact into action goes to Wittek. All colleagues proposing validated ideas receive a financial bonus.

Innovation ideas from all content

Just a few months after launch, the MIM programme has already produced more than 100 new ideas. Some were straightforward but highly effective ways to improve productivity, such as suggesting how machine operators’ work can be streamlined, enabling them to spend more time on their machines and less time going to fetch supplies. Others were more complex, such as, in one case, devising a universal component for two separate types of machine, leading to fewer broken parts. The idea was tested for three weeks and was then introduced into the daily work process.

“The MIM platform creates engagement and motivation because every employee feels that he or she can contribute to the company's evolution, progress and performance,” says Marian Serbu, Production Manager and steering committee member.

“The very high number of ideas shows the success of the programme, which has had a very positive impact on the company,” says Cristian Bacila, Industrial Engineering Manager and another steering committee member. “Our colleagues have shown us new ways of looking at specific problems.”

Calin says that the decision to draw on the ‘collective brain’ of the Güntner workforce has proved to be a good idea in itself. And it has brought new collaboration between colleagues. “In some cases you would see someone come up with with an idea, and then another colleague would build on it, and come up with another idea,” she says. The programme is currently scheduled to run until the end of 2023, and Calin expects the ideas to continue to flow.

“I COULD NOT BE MORE PLEASED WITH THE RESULTS OF THE PROGRAMME. TOGETHER WE ARE CREATING A CULTURE OF INNOVATION AND HELPING TO SUSTAIN GÜNTNER’S AIM TO ALWAYS BE ONE SOLUTION AHEAD.”
KLAUS WITTEK GENERAL MANAGER, GÜNTNER