Training Organizations to Innovate
Develops World Class Products and Saves $1/2 Million a Year
Dave Newcomer hired me to do a series of creativity sessions for the R&D managers at the Mead Paper Company based in Chillicothe, Ohio. Dave asked me to conduct a series of Creative Problem Solving training sessions with his staff. When one of Mead’s customers asked the company to produce a paper with a 95% brightness level, the first response was that it couldn’t be done. The customer was a large customer and if Mead was not able to meet the customer’s request, chances are the customer would find another supplier.
Dave asked me to come into work with his research staff, sales staff and production staff to conduct an idea generating session to come with ways to meet the customer’s request. Arrangements were made and I facilitated a session with about 100 participants. After a short session on how to generate ideas, I worked with the entire group of 100 people to use the “brainwriting” technique to generate ideas.
In approximately 30 minutes over 3000 ideas were generated. The R&D staff then evaluated the ideas and a number of innovative approach were uncovered. As a result the team improved the brightness of Mead’s paper and developed a new line of products that were superior to any of Mead’s competitors. Mead redefined the standard for integrated paper mill products and in the process came up with a new process for producing paper that not only increases paper brightness, but saves more than $500,000 per year.
Newsday Saves $22,000 The First Day After Training
Pat Troy, Training Project Manager at Newsday, after attending one of my Creative Problem Solving facilitation courses, lead a Creative Problem Solving session for the paper’s production department. The group eventually decided to focus on how to develop a system to check the paper for accuracy before it is released. That afternoon, the production team went back to the composing room and created a comprehensive checklist. By using the list, that very night, the team caught an error in a full-page color advertisement that would have cost $22,000 to fix.
General Motors Forge Plant finds a $1.50 Solution Solves a $40,000 a Week Problem
After attending one of our classes at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo State, Austin Saccia Administrator for Personnel and Safety, facilitated a Creative Problem Solving session with employees at the General Motors Saginaw Division Forge plant in Tonawanda, New York. The employees set their sights on finding a way to prevent the ring gears made at their plant from sticking in and breaking dies during production – a problem that was costing the plant thousands per week. While brainstorming, one teammate suggested using the cooking product PAM to prevent the sticking and another participant quickly built on the idea. The result: Using a $1.00 spray bottle and fifty cents worth of solutions, plant operators now spray the dies before making ring gears to prevent sticking and the plant saves as much as $40,000 weekly.
Thirty-Five Hundred People Trained In Creativity
In order to institute culture of creativity and continuous improvement, the Director of Training at the Mazda Motor Manufacturing plant in Flatrock, Michigan contacted me. This plant was one of the first manufacturing plants that Mazda motors established in the United States. This was also the plant that produced the first Mazda MX 6 automobile and the Ford Probe.
Because this was a new start up that blended Japanese manufacturing culture and American manufacturing culture, the Director of Training was charged to create a culture that fostered continuous improvement and manufacturing innovation. I trained the entire staff of the organizational development and training division at Mazda in a one day Creative Problem Solving course. The trainers then delivered the course to the 3,500 employees of the plant through a series of workshops. As a result of this training, the plant “came up to speed” faster than in any other manufacturing start-up that Mazda had initiated. Coming up to speed means that the employees were able to prepare the manufacturing facility days before the actual scheduled start date. This significantly reduced the start up cost. Additionally, as a result of using Creative Problem Solving methods and additional quality tools, the plant exceeded the quality standard that was originally established. In other words, they were able to produce cars faster and with less manufacturing down time.
Significant increase in patent productivity.
The Clorox Company contacted me because they had seen me conduct a creativity session at the Creative Problem Solving Institute. They contacted me because patent productivity was down and the results of a recent organization climate survey indicated that the research and development facility was not supporting innovative efforts.
My colleague Jonathan Vehar and I conducted a series of two-day Creative Problem Solving training programs that were designed to give members of the organization methods and techniques to develop breakthrough solutions to problems. All 450 people that were employed at the R&D Facility were trained in Creative Problem Solving in a two-day program.
Following the series of two-day training programs a series of four-day facilitator training programs were conducted. These sessions were designed to train members of the Clorox staff to facilitate CPS sessions throughout the organization when necessary.
As a result of the training, patent productivity went up and the climate for innovation at the R&D Facility when measured after the training was conducted showed a significant increased support for innovation.
- Climate for Creativity survey that indicated that in addition to low patent productivity the organization was not supportive of innovative efforts.
- Two-day basic Creative Problem Solving training for members of the entire R&D facility.
- Four-day CPS facilitator training program for individuals who self selected to become Creative Problem Solving facilitators.
- Follow up survey on the climate for creativity at the facility that indicated more support for innovation.
Results: Significant increase in patent productivity.