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Ideas Are Free: How the Idea Revolution Is Liberating People and Transforming Organizations Paperback – January 9, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Firms that take ideas seriously take their employees’ thinking seriously, and employees who think are employees who are alive. Thus argue Robinson and Schroeder, management academics and corporate creativity consultants. Ideas are the life force of corporations, they say, and managers who recognize this can increase profits and avoid budget cuts and layoffs. Kill employee ideas and what you have is a carcass of a company, a firm mired in bureaucracy and rote processes with a staff of dulled zombies. But ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. The key to a successful company, argue Robinson and Schroeder, is encouraging a corporate culture that swiftly recognizes and implements improvements. With that in mind, the authors focus on ideas as the catalyst of corporate change rather than the end itself. This book is thoroughly researched, with convincing facts and data (Toyota’s success, they say, is the result of an idea culture that takes one million ideas per year from its employees). It also lays out a blueprint for a corporate idea program from inspiration to implementation, along with some unexpected caveats (e.g., rewarding ideas tends to stifle them as people focus on the award rather than on the idea, and small ideas—leading to continuous, incremental improvement—are more valuable than large ones). For any manager interested in jolting a moribund workforce out of complacency, this is a clever, pragmatic guide to awakening both the front line and the bottom line.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.

From Booklist

Ever since Frederick Taylor advocated that it was management's job to "think" and the worker's job to "do," this perspective has been the basis for the policies, structures, and operating practices of most business organizations. Although this division between thinking and doing may have worked 100 years ago, it is severely limiting in today's environment, where it is the front-line worker who is in the best position to notice problems and suggest ideas. In example after example, the authors show how companies that encourage and implement the ideas of the entire workforce are the ones that come up with the most innovative and successful strategies. Contrary to past thinking on the subject, they make it clear that monetary rewards are not the best way to elicit ideas, and that emphasis on small ideas can be a more effective strategy than shooting for a "home run." The methods described show how to create an environment that encourages ideas, help employees develop knowledge and improve their problem-solving skills, and properly manage the ideas that are generated, including their larger implications. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 2 Reprint edition (January 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576753743
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576753743
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #265,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I manage people and my greatest frustration is having smart people working for me, the best tools, a great product and still getting beaten in the marketplace by companies with a more creative approach. Leveraging human capital is the difference between a good company (or organization) and a great one. Motivating people to come to work everyday is one thing. I need them to think creatively! Standing in front of their desk screaming "THINK CREATIVELY!" doesn't seem to work very well. The authors address this issue blissfully avoiding Covey-esque motivational platitudes and MBAspeak about 'Synergies' found in most management books. The book is written with a practitioner in mind and avoids 'data' and teaches with real life examples. A lot of them! A great read for any leader trying to unleash potential in their organization or even looking for ideas themselves.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The theme of employee suggestions is not new. But this book provides answers and strong motivation to try out again. The things that I learned from reading the book are:

1) Why rewards based on value of saving does not work.

2) A series of small ideas adds up to one Big one.

3) Even big ideas needs small ideas to get them working right.

4) Small ideas are not easily copied.

5) A properly implemented idea system improve management - employee relations

6) Successfully implemented ideas system is the key to competitive advantage and sustainable long term performance.

Please read the book for the details. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
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 mattered.

We have to remember that employees are often leaders and thinkers outside of work.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a student reading this, I thought a lot of the points were common sense. Then I spent a summer as a retail employee and it became immediately clear to me that among management, they are not. If you manage humans, do your underlings a favor and just take a few hours and read this.
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Format: Hardcover
In this hyper-competitive and economically uncertain world, there is a free resource for efficiency and money-saving ideas that few companies have accessed. Why not ask your employees for their suggestions to make the company better?

It's not as easy as putting up suggestion boxes, and waiting for the flood of ideas. First, look at your corporate culture. If yours is the sort of company that discourages ideas from employees (workers are there to work and not think), it will take a lot of work on the part of senior management to convince employees that, this time, things are different. The actual idea submission form must be short, no more than one page. There needs to be a system in place where every idea is acknowledged and evaluated within a specific period of time (for instance, within 24 and 72 hours, respectively). If a middle manager is "sitting on" an idea, for whatever reason, senior management needs to know about it.

In many cases, the immediate supervisor is most qualified to evaluate ideas. Feedback is very important, especially if the idea needs more work, or if the idea has to be rejected. Explaining the reason to the employee will keep them from getting discouraged. When an idea is approved by the right people, there is no reason for it to not be implemented sooner, rather than later (within hours or days, not at the start of the next quarter). There should be continuous checking of ideas to see if they can also be used elsewhere in the company. Managers seem to be only interested in the huge, million-dollar idea. Is there something wrong with a few thousand-dollar ideas?

Setting up a system of monetary rewards for ideas is popular, but not needed.
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