of Ideas Are Free, a management book by Alan G. Robinson and Dean
M. Schroeder. |
Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, MBA,
Certified Professional Manager, and Member of the Board of Regent of
the Institute of Certified Professional Managers.
How did Toyota rise from being an obscure automaker
to being "Number Three" in "The Big Three?" How
did Toyota come to dominate the J.D. Powers Consumer Satisfaction Survey?
And why is it Toyota has not laid off a single worker since 1950? Ideas.
Toyota uses hundreds more ideas per worker than do its American counterparts.
While Toyota is a stunning example of how one company
gets and uses employee ideas, this book isn't about Toyota. It's about
liberating people and transforming organizations through ideas. Not
necessarily big ideas, but ideas that come from every person in the
organization and add up to big things.
The typical organization is an idea desert. This
well-researched book shows you, through case histories and clear explanations,
how any organization can transform that desert into a lush land that
produces bumper crops.
One key is tapping into the vast resource of employees
who are closest to the work. Managers have a perspective that is excellent
for addressing the larger picture. But to have that perspective, managers
are necessarily removed from being close to the work. Thus, they simply
are not in a position to see how to improve the work.
Another important concept that many managers fail
to put to use is that of massively parallel eyes, ears, and brains.
Joseph Antonini taught us that ignoring these inputs is very dangerous--he
nearly ruined K-Mart by assuming his ideas were the only ones that really
We have to remember that employees are often leaders
and thinkers outside of work. They rear children, hold leadership positions
in their churches, hold leadership positions in their trade or professional
organizations, conduct neighborhood watches, pay mortgages, coach softball
teams, teach children how to ride bikes, care for their aged parents,
plan vacation trips, plan and prepare meals for guests, conduct hundreds
of financial transactions each year, safely navigate their way around
strange neighborhoods or even cities they have never been to before,
conduct research at their library and online, send their spouses or
children off to war and support them across vast oceans, and.... You
get the point. And this is a point that Ideas Are Free brings
to front and center.
Companies who treat employees as a brain trust have
an enormous advantage over companies that treat employees as a cost
they'd like to eliminate. This book shows you how to treat employees
as a brain trust, based on what other companies have successfully done.
It also alerts you to some pitfalls and explains why certain approaches
The competitive advantage that will most determine
the future of any company is brainpower. It's not a matter of hiring
bright people. It's a matter of correctly managing the brainpower you
already have. And that's why I recommend Ideas Are Free to anyone
who is in a management position.
In today's globally competitive environment, you
can't afford to operate on the same premise Antonini did. You need ideas.
And, they are free--if you know how to look for them.