Thursday, 3 January 2013

Here lies the the body of Suggestion Box.

Compliment! I am glad you are here to read from me in this new year. I will get straight to my points, it is a new year so I intend not to waste your time.

Suggestion boxes have been around for decades. Yet most people do not believe that anyone ever actually read ideas dropped into a suggestion box. For the most part, this is because once an idea is dropped into a suggestion box, the submitter is unlikely to ever see it again – hence she assumes no one is interested in her idea. Sadly, many suggestion scheme idea management solutions suffer a similar reputation.

What became of your suggestion box? Have you ever used one? Does there exist in your firm a system that encourages the expression of new ideas? Unfortunately, it is relatively easy for a manager to squelch a new idea, but much more difficult to solicit, consider, and test it. Some managers are totally unaware that they have become practicing “idea killers.” These managers believe that they remain open-minded about suggestions for improvement, but unbeknownst to them; their rejoinder to the expression of a new idea is almost totally negative. This article is designed to consider typical managerial reactions to such an expression. Moreover, the objective is to analyze these reactions and develop a means by which your firm’s suggestion box can be reopened.

Who Dreamed It Up?
Consider for a moment how many times during the past year you have used the phrase, “Who ever dreamed up that idea?” It is highly probable that this phrase was used to express your reaction to the expression of a new idea. While the phrase contains no negative terms, its likely interpretation is negative. For example, this reaction is most often interpreted to mean, “Who (could be so dumb as to have) ever dreamed up that (ridiculous) idea?” Now the negative connotation becomes more obvious. Is there any doubt as to why the person on the receiving end of this expression feels somewhat rebuffed? Of course not, and the person submitting the suggestion is not likely to use the suggestion box again. Sure, he may continue to generate new ideas, but he may lack the courage to express them.

The next time you are confronted with a new idea try this phrase instead: “Thank you for your suggestion. Do you have more information as to how this idea might be useful?” This reaction contains no commitment on your part and encourages the person with the idea to devote more serious thought.

The relevant question, of course, is whether your firm can take the risk of missing out on that one idea.

Probably not.

Tomisin Ajiboye


  1. oh yes! Tomisin thank you for this wonderful write up. Its high time organisations encourage the contribution of ideas through the suggestion box again. Thank you once again


    1. Thank you bro. It bothers me why institutions don't ever see the need for improving on it. still bothers me.

  2. Hmnnnnn....... I am learning. Thanks for this boss.

    1. Thank you bro, I am also learning from you Mathew.