"...And Make It Real Creative!": I-POWER - Investing In Individual Ideas

by Andy Capp

I consider myself lucky to work at KELO -- good company, good bosses, good staff. The deer and the antelope play, the skies are not cloudy all day.... Okay, there are a few things that could make KELO a heaven on earth. In fact, there are some things that are really annoying! I mean, how do they expect people to work under conditions like this?! The place is going to hell in a handbasket, and no one is listening to my solutions!!!

Introducing I-Power: Actually, things have never been that bad at KELO (unless it's really late at a staff party and Mr. Boston is talking...), so when AM Program Director Warren West brought up something called I-POWER, I thought, "Great idea, but do we really need it?" Of course, I was wrong (might have been the morning after talking...). I-POWER is for any business, any size, anywhere, that believes constant improvement is the key to success, and it is a darned creative way to do it at that!

For those of you who haven't heard of it, here's the nutshell: I-POWER was invented by Martin Edelston, CEO of Boardroom Inc., a business periodical and book publisher. It's based on the techniques that took the Japanese from post World War II disgrace to the world economic power they are today. The Japanese call it Kaizen, continuous improvement which requires successful implementation of a series of ideas, large or small, (and most importantly) from all people in a company, at all levels. Simply stated, if anyone at KELO has an idea, they bring it up, they're rewarded (more on this attractive plus later!), course corrected! This information came from Mr. Edelston and Marion Buhaglars book I-POWER, a book Warren received from his wife for Christmas. (What this says about the ruling structure in his family, I won't speculate.) From there, Warren suggested it to Grand Poo Bah Tom Simmons, and I-POWER came to KELLOW-Land.

Inducting I-POWER: After a successful trial run with the AM staff, I-POWER came to the masses at a KELO staff meeting. The book leaves the rules of the game open to interpretation. Here's how we do it: If you have an idea that would make the company or yourself work better, smarter, faster, you write it up on an I-POWER form and present it to Warren (our designated "I-POWER Input"), and Warren immediately gives you a hearty "Thank You" and one dollar. He then collects all the I-POWER ideas for the month and hands them in to General Manager, Tom Simmons, who grades them as follows: A, the idea nets you $10.00; B, the idea nets you $5.00; C, another thank you for the idea; LD, let's discuss the idea; M, more information needed; WLI, worth looking into; WC, worth considering; EX, explain please...return with your explanation. In addition, the person with the most A ideas each month gets an additional $25.00.

The Impact of I-POWER: In its first month at KELO, I-POWER produced eighteen ideas total. Of these, five were rated A ideas and ten were Bs. The As and Bs were posted, and the cash was handed out. Our Chief Engineer had the most As and got the extra bonus.

Some of the big winners the first month: Adding another Marti remote vehicle using an existing station vehicle; adding a quote about the strength of radio to our weekly FM newsletter; adding a permanent set of headphones to Production two for client use; building and renting out storage units at our tower site; getting name tags made up for the sales staff.

Most importantly, by the time the list was posted, three ideas had already been accomplished, with more on the way!

Impressions of I-POWER: Is I-POWER a success at KELO? Well, it's still in its infancy, but we did generate some good ideas the first couple of months, many that could make things run better. One of the important elements of I-POWER is that no idea is too small, and if little holes sink a ship, I-POWER can patch them up before they deep six the station.

It's also important to remember that ideas are great, but following through on those ideas has to happen or I-POWER is just another time wasting paper shuffle. The more ideas that are implemented here, the better the program looks.

Is I-POWER for your station? Probably. The main ingredient that makes I-POWER work is management that wants it to work. If your General Manager is willing to make the financial commitment, then read, grade and follow through on the ideas, I-POWER is worth looking into. However, if your GM comes from the Hitler school of management....

One thing is certain, every business needs all the help they can get these days. In radio that usually means spending a fortune on consultants. That's fine, but why not put the responsibility (and rewards) of improvement in the hands of the people who know the station and market better than anyone else? The staff! (A word to any consultants reading: Why not beat the production folk to the punch and suggest I-POWER to your client stations! You'll earn your commission this month!)

If you're interested in the full story on I-POWER, look for the I-POWER book in the business section of your favorite bookstore or library. Boardroom Inc. also publishes monthly newsletters devoted to I-POWER and the businesses that use it. Write: I-POWER, Boardroom Inc., 330 W. 42nd St., New York, NY 10036. Of course, if you'd like an update on our program, I'm always desperate for correspondence. It's the creative way to improve, invigorate, innovate, invent, inspire, impress! Investigate I-POWER!

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