Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Management Stories # 16 - Welcome new ideas

There is this great story about an executive at a fabric manufacturer who took over an existing group. The group was decades old, and had run into sickness over the past 30 years, and since the Promoters could not sustain it any longer, they sold off the unit to this new entrepreneur.

The Promoters were from a typical family-run background, and were clearly running the business in their own fashion, whereas the entrepreneur who took over was a professionally qualified guy, and soon as he took over, he called for a meeting with the workers wherein he demonstrated beyond doubt that he was open to any new ideas.

A day later, someone from the production line approached the Production Manager and, in a heavy foreign accent, said he had an idea that might solve a problem that had long bedeviled the company.

The point under consideration was that an important type of fiber would sometimes snap, causing millions of dollars of production delays each year, and this worker had some thoughts on how to fix that specifically.

The Production Manager promised to try the idea, and it worked. He was called for a meeting with the entrepreneur.

“That was a great idea,” the entrepreneur told the worker. “How long have you had this idea?”

“Thirty years,” the worker replied. That is precisely the number of years since when the unit went into financial sickness.

As they say "A stitch in time saves nine" - and to really do that stitch in time, you must demonstrate to all of your people that you are really open to new ideas and must welcome them.

A few of them may not be worth even listening, but if you shut it off, the door might be permanently closed, and you may not get the most brilliant ideas, which could hold the key to your most critical problems.

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