Naga Chokkanathan

Why Not? — Keep An Idea Notebook

Posted on: July 12, 2011

Early fifties, Toyota introduced a new concept called “Idea Management System” for its employees. Basically, the management invited new ideas from the staff in all areas – production, marketing, quality, delivery etc., and rewarded the best ones.

In the first year, Toyota employees gave 789 suggestions. Some of them were good, but the majority of the ideas were very average. Worst, many of the employees didn’t share any ideas – Not even one for the whole year. Obviously, those employees thought an ‘idea’ must be a really big innovation. Unless and until it changes the game, it is not worth submitting.

Toyota realized this and started pushing a different message. They encouraged employees to submit any idea they can think of. ‘Keep a pencil with you, Whenever you think of some new way of doing things, Immediately note it down and submit it as an idea. It doesn’t matter how small a change it is, but if you feel something needs to change, you need to raise the voice.’

‘But, some of my ideas will be outright silly!’

‘Doesn’t matter. Here, quantity is more important than quality’ the management said, ‘if you submit 10 idea in an year, one of them will be good, we will implement it and the whole company will benefit from it.’

Slowly, the ideas started flowing. In the next 40 years, Toyota was able to generate 20 Million Ideas – all from their own staff. Many of those ideas were implemented and saved billions of dollars to the company, enhanced employee satisfaction, product quality and so on.,

Toyota didn’t invent “Idea Management System”. When they launched it in 1951, the same concept was being followed by many American companies. In fact, Senior managers from Toyota observed a Ford manufacturing plant in USA and decided to try it in their own factories. Half a century later, they are the ones who benefited the most from listening to employees’ ideas. No other external consultant could have given them these many realistic ideas!

Even today, “Toyota Idea Factory” is a very important case study for management students. It encourages all sorts of people – from assembly line workers to CXOs – to keep an idea notebook and a pencil in hand always. Just to make sure we don’t lose a great revolutionary idea!



N. Chokkan …

12 07 2011


3 Responses to "Why Not? — Keep An Idea Notebook"

Hi Naga,

Great post! Is there an idea management system where you work?


Hello Duncan Murtagh,

Thanks for your comments,

I do maintain an idea management system – both in office and home 🙂

– N. Chokkan,

Its a good article . What an idea ?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Organization He works for / belongs to.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 61 other followers

Big Adda

%d bloggers like this: