Many company managers follow the tenets of Lean and often cite the Toyota Production System as the way to productivity, profitability and innovation. But what other companies have developed groundbreaking practices we can learn from and implement in our organizations?
Take 3M for example. In the 1930s and 40s, the president and chairman of 3M was a fellow named William McKnight. He was a visionary thinker who said, “Hire good people and leave them alone.” That was the foundation of employee empowerment and the autonomous workforce. McKnight encouraged his people to spend 15% of their time on projects of their choice. Out of that came such innovative products as Post-It notes, now sold in over 600 variations in over 100 countries.
The push for autonomy and empowerment is vital to improving company performance and innovative operations strategy. Google allows up to one day per week (20% of time) for working on side projects. More than half of their new offerings come from these efforts.
In his book, “Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” Daniel Pink tells a number of stories like those above from companies other than Toyota about developing motivated workforces that thrive on innovation.
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