Suggestion Scheme Performance

Examples of Suggestion Schemes

Employee Suggestion Scheme of TIBS Holdings Ltd, Singapore Includes performance results and a "Hall of Fame". From March/April 1997 company newsletter

University of Arizona Employee Suggestion Program A good example of an on-line system - includes examples of suggestions implemented and the online form

Towards the Ideal Suggestion Scheme

Making Your Suggestion Scheme Make Sense by Ron Kaufman

Implementing Suggestion Schemes

ideasUK The UK Association of Suggestion Schemes

FAQ on Starting and Maintaining a Suggestion Scheme EXCELLENT! From Ideas Management Consultancy, UK & USA

Turning suggestions & complaints into profit By Thomas P. Sattler, Ed.D., & Carol A. Doniek, M.S.

Summary of Comments on Suggestion Schemes

The following is a summary of comments on suggestion schemes in response to a posting made by me in the TR-DEV and CREA-CPS listserves. Brian Hunt, September 2000. Please email any comments to me at

Existing Schemes




Idea routing

Our corporate office administrator (a department head) personally reads all suggestions, logs them, and distributes each to a corporate department head in the area she believes the suggestion will be handled best.

Idea assessment

Sometimes I appoint a departmental virtual team to look at a suggestion. Sometimes, I/we contact the suggester to review points in the suggestion that may not be clear. One such contact involved three of us visiting the suggester in the field to view and put our hands on what he was talking about.

Response time

She keeps a tickler log and "bugs" us if she doesn't receive some kind of action or closure within a certain period of time

Qualification for assessing ideas

Evaluation can be solved by applying the Air Force's standard. No suggestion can be rejected by anyone who does not have the authority to accept and implement it. That way the suggestion is always evaluated by someone who understands the situation/technology or whatever, and can make

things happen.

Qualification for assessing ideas

. If they don't understand the business, the processes and the organizational goals, they haven't got the tools to assess the suggestions. Good ideas may be going unacknowledged and unused. Nobody wants to throw their good ideas into a black hole.

Qualification for assessing ideas

Each suggestion was reviewed by the head of the department that it concerned.

Decision making

... initial review by peers, with a considerable amount of power to accept or reject at that level. Limit additional reviews to situations requiring really technical analyses and/or large dollar investments/risks.

Qualification for assessing ideas

... while it is centrally administered, the responsibility for a decision is left with the department where the kind of expertise needed to respond to the suggestion resides. And, the decision to adopt or reject is put into the hands of those with the expertise to determine whether the idea has enough merit to give it a try.

Idea closure and reward

Department heads handle the suggestions through to the point of providing the suggester a written response saying why the suggestion is or is not adopted. The office administrator is a cc addressee and the letter tells her whether to issue a check request in the name of the suggester.

Idea closure and reward

If it was not accepted and implemented, the reply had to explain why. If savings/profits came about because of a suggestion, there was a financial reward for the person who proposed it.

Idea closure and reward

Third, payoffs -- financial and otherwise -- for those who submit ideas that are adopted. These can range from tokens such as a certificate for simply submitting a reasonable idea (adopted or not), through modest awards such as a $50 or $100 savings bond for worthwhile but difficult to quantify ideas that are adopted, all the way up to serious money for ideas that have a major financial impact (and I mean serious money, maybe even

thousands of dollars).

Idea closure and reward

Rewards were figured as 10% of the first year's savings, or an amount jointly decided by the Suggestion Program Manager and the suggestion evaluator.

Fundamental requirements


First, senior management must vest enough trust into the system to empower corporate staff to make decisions of this nature


second, corporate staff must accept and act responsibly on their empowerment in this regard.

Decision Making

We have a corporate culture that enables decision making at the lowest end point, so the suggestion program is just a piece of routine work.


Bottom line: empowerment, decentralized decisions, the suggestion program being an integral part of the work process, are all part of a successful suggestion philosophy.


The real key to success is to evaluate suggestions fairly and reward people for the savings generated. Even suggestions that don't directly result in cost savings (better procedures, save time, etc.) should be rewarded.

Response Time

First, quick turnaround, that is, a definitive response to the suggestion submitter.

Response Time

A reply was required in five working days.

Killing motivation

Why bother making a suggestion if nobody even replies? Going back to B.F. Skinner's operant conditioning we know behavior that's rewarded tends to persist. No reward? Probably no repeat behavior.

Key questions to determine if senior management consider that employees are a base of knowledge and competitive advantage.

Where do we get our new ideas to meet business challenges? What's making us crazy in the business?Where is the expertise and knowledge in our company?

What is our competitive advantage?

Other questions for senior managers

Who is qualified to make decisions about process, strategy or product changes in our company?Whose role is it to make strategic vs. operating decisions for the company?

How can the employee knowledge and talent base best be tapped to help these

decision makers in their work?

What's in it for the employee to participate?

Where it goes wrong

Budget games

I have worked in a suggestion system where the decision had to be made by an administrator who had more interest in how much money was left in the suggestion pot than the potential value of the suggestion; so, decisions were made based on budget rather than merit

Administration overload

In another system, the decision-making was so layered that suggestions got "buried" in their own administration and very often the process ground to a halt without ever being responded to.

Poor Management

it's because senior management (generally speaking) really doesn't give a s--t about employees or their ideas. And, most of all, because I have rarely seen a senior management group willing to let any big bucks go to anyone other than themselves.

Ideas not understood

some of the best ideas are often the most poorly expressed and so can be misunderstood by the person receiving the idea. Suggestion schemes that I have had experience of have used untrained admin. support to administer the suggestion scheme. How can the problem of making sure that these ideas (especially the very lateral thinking ones) are successfully communicated to the idea reviewer?