bill ford jr 200In other industries, tapping your workforce for ideas to improve operations is not an uncommon practice. When Ford Motor Company starts talking about asking its employees for advice, you have to take notice. The American automotive industry, with the escalating tensions between labor and management, is not known for this level of cooperation, from either end. Salaried employees in Ford's Americas division received an e-mail Friday from Mark Fields, the division president, and his management team, encouraging them to share ideas with senior management. The response has been strong, and Fields and his team are reviewing every response. Bill Ford has also asked for ideas from employees, which was met with a flood of ideas. Some employers, like Ford, have been unaware of the huge, untapped power of their workforce. The idea is so simple, however. If you want change and you want to improve your company, the best place to get ideas and suggestions is from those who work 'in the machine', if you will. These employees see the waste, see the disconnects with customers, and see ways to improve that even dedicated quality experts can't see. Japanese manufacturers have been doing this for years in the interest of improving product quality.

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