Hi Friends,
                                              Even as I launch this today ( my 80th Birthday ), I realize that there is yet so much to say and do.
                                                  There is just no time to look back, no time to wonder,"Will anyone read these pages?"
                                       With regards,
                                       Hemen Parekh
                                       27 June 2013

Wednesday, 11 February 1987

SUGGESTION-SCHEME

Synopsis: Communication For Productivity
Letters written to some 7500 Workers / Managers / Union Leaders, following a period of strike / Go slow / Murders (1979 - 1987), at Mumbai factory of Larsen & Toubro Ltd. This direct / open / honest communication led to a remarkable atmosphere of trust between Workers and Management, which, in turn, increased productivity at 3% per year (ave).

11 Feb 1987

To:
Dear Colleague                      

SUGGESTION-SCHEME


A few days back I had a meeting with about 15 shop-representatives from various departments all over Powai.

Amongst the many things that we discussed, one was regarding employee-suggestions.

Whereas the shop-reps, agreed that not all suggestions can be implemented or rewarded, the general feeling was as follows :

(1)      The feedback needs to be speeded-up.
(2)      The "Rejection-Reply" should be worded positively, encouragingIy.
(3)      Foremen/Dept.Heads should take more Interest In understanding the suggestion and the logic behind the rejection and they  should take pains to explain this logic to the suggester so that he is convinced.

As far as I can see, this point is VERY IMPORTANT.  The suggestion-committee Itself felt very strongly In favour of this during its last meeting.

Every person feels that his suggestion is most brilliant and worth a Nobel-prize !  He derives greatest satisfaction in seeing it get implemented. This satisfaction, quite often is even far more important to him than the monetary reward.

This is not difficult  to understand. If we do a bit of Introspection.

All of us, throughout our working-life of 20, 30 or 40 years keep on suggesting ''changes", whether those changes pertain to

-      Information Systems (rules, procedures, etc.)
-      Physical Systems (manufacturing methods, storage, etc.)
-      People (recruitment, skills, training, organisation, etc.)
-      Policies (rewards, punishments, etc.)
-      Attitudes (love, hate, etc.)
-      etc., etc.

We make these"suggestions" (except that we do not consciously call them "suggestions" in dozens of encounters with our colleagues everyday -for perhaps 10,000 days of our working-life.

All of these, add-up to perhaps 100,000 or if you are very prolific, to may be a MILLION suggestions during the course of A  lifetime !

But how many of these get accepted ?

And of those that do get accepted, how many finally get Implemented ?

Perhaps an Infinitesimal fraction.

But despite these enormous odds (against our suggestions getting accepted), we do not get frustrated and give up making suggestions.

               Why ?                                                                    

Again not very difficult to see.

In a dialogue, a discussion, a group-meeting, others are quick to respond with counter-arguments and counter-logic.

There are more arguments (from the suggester's side) and still more counter-arguments.

The whole process Is very personal, live, open and transparent. You can see the feelings and touch the emotions.

And therefore, you understand. And when you understand, you do not resist - nor do you feel frustrated.

Perhaps you may even get a smalI satisfaction out of having been given the opportunity to Influence the thinking of the others.

If nothing else, you get a feeling of having "participated" in the process. To most of us this feeling, by Itself is a great motivator - the feeling of having been "seen-and-heard".

And so we keep-on making a hundred suggestions, day after day, for ten-thousand days '

But none of this life-drama is present when you send your suggestion, through a piece of paper and receive a "response" after a few months. on another piece of cyctostyled paper !

No Joy, no tears, no heart-burning, no exaltations, no voices, no emotions, no feelings !

Just some black dots on a white paper delivered through "mail" !      

"Dear Suggester :

Ref : So-and-so

Thank you very much for your Suggestion.  Wo have evaluated It in detail and regret to inform you that the same Is not acceptable  for the following reasons :
Now we are going to change these wordings and make them sound much more encouraging.

Suggestion-Scheme co-coordinators’ (Modh - Gr.lI, SVR - Group III, Solkhan-Gr-.IV, Saharia - EWAC, Sethi - PGM) will also attach the details of the suggestion itself and the details of the "reasons-for-non-acceptance"

to the reply so that you have a little better understanding of the whole matter.

But that may not be enough !

It is one thing to be able to convince a suggester regarding the "non-acceptance" but It is an altogether different thing to keep him motivated so that he keeps sending more and more suggestions.

And that is where you come into the picture.

You - and you alone - can bridge the gap (the communication-gap) between the seemingly Impersonal suggestion-committee on one side and the person sitting in front of you, on the other side.

That's Right !

-      No more "dellvery-thru-Mall".
-      No more mere "handlng-over" the letter. You must make him sit down comfortably and tell him,

"I did not know that you had sent in this suggestion.  Seems like  a good suggestion.  But of course, you know that the Suggestion- committee has to look Into each and every aspect, not the least
of which is ....................................................……………………………………………………….
………………………………………………………………………………………….     
 Next time you have a clever Idea, why don't you come to me first. May be I can help you to make the necessary sketches and the calculation of savings.  I am sure, one of these days, you are bound to come-up with a brilliant Idea and win a big prize - so why not look around and keep asking,

"Is there a better way of doing this ?"

A major objective for any supervisor (whether he be a first-line supervisor or a General Manager) is to bring out the "creative talent" which lies hidden amongst his subordinates/colleagues.  And "suggestions" received from your departmont/section Is a pretty good Indicator of how well you are meeting that objective.

Let this be your PRIME OBJECTIVE in 1987.

H. C. PAREKH

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