Dr. Alan Robinson: Unlocking The Power Of Bottom-Up Ideas

Blog for Dr. Alan Robinson’s presentation, 11/9/16

By Cheryl Zebold


Pop Quiz. Which of the following are channels in your organization that generate ideas?

  1. Innovative, out of the box ideas
  2. High-level executives and Black belt projects
  3. Middle level managers and Kaizen events
  4. Smaller day-to-day problems from the front line workers

If you said all of the above, you would be on the same wavelength as Dr. Alan Robinson, our guest Presenter at the APICS PDM held at Costa del Sol in Hartford, CT, on Nov. 9th.

According to Robinson, the U.S. hasn’t really improved productivity much in the past 100 years. Disappointing! One way that we could, is if we would “…listen to your people!” Roughly 80% of overall improvement comes from front line staff.

Are you getting ideas from your front line employees?

Our goal should be to learn how to set up and run a good idea system AND enable our employees to act on all of the problems and opportunities that they see.

Robinson suggested 12 ideas per employee per year by the end of the 1st year in an environment where ideas are encouraged. You’ll not only notice things you can do better – morale shoots up! An engaged workforce must have the ability to suggest ideas.

3 key points of Dr. Robinson’s presentation:

  1. Go after small ideas – they are easier to implement
  2. Make ideas a part of everyone’s job
  3. Help your people come up with more and better ideas through training.

Ideas Training can include:

  1. Identify and develop item activators
  2. Teach creativity concepts
  3. Hone their techniques
  4. Improve their power of observation
  5. Increase problem sensitivity

Some key takeaways:

  • Big ideas are needed to stay in the game; however little ideas stay proprietary and create sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Idea is a prediction of the future.
  • Small idea is a small change in how you do things.
  • Competitive advantage today is results tomorrow.


Dr. Robinson’s presentation was very well-received by approximately 50 attendees from the area, including a strong representation from CTMA Connecticut Tooling and Machining Association, with whom this was a joint event. IMA was also in attendance. We also had student participation from CCSU.

All in all, this month’s PDM was an educational and informative event.

Thank you Dr. Alan Robinson! 



Blog Photos by Photography by Solano 

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