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Employees as Inspiration for Your Business Model

Companies use employee suggestion boxes for improvements to their business process, but employees can be a valued source of business model improvements as well. Employees have access to the intimate details of customer interactions, business processes, and competition every day. Giving your employees the opportunity and permission to assist with business model innovation is good business.

Here are just a few examples of how employees helped improve a business model.

  • Vendors, customers, and employees were given input into the design of the Ford Taurus. The Taurus not only made billions of dollars in profits for Ford, but also changed the way Ford did business.

    One of the more interesting suggestions by employees was placing a small plastic nub in the middle of the dashboard assembly. This nub helped balance the dashboard, so one person could install it. Previously, two line workers were needed to install the dash. Imagine the savings Ford has enjoyed since implementing this seemingly small suggestion.

  • Japanese pharmaceutical maker Eisai Co. got critical input from employees on a jelly-like substance that Alzheimer’s patients can swallow easily.

  • A group of female employees at Best Buy convinced management that women were better customers than men. After analyzing data, management agreed. Store data revealed that women customers tended to return less merchandise than men did, and thereby generated more profits. Best Buy then devised a strategy to target this underserved female market.

  • J. Willard Marriott started out with a chain of nine A&W root beer stands, including one near an airport. An employee noticed that passengers would purchase meals, stuffing the food into their carry-on luggage.

    This idea resulted in the store establishing a delivery of prepackaged box lunches directly onto the tarmac. Several months later, the service expanded to American Airlines catering to 22 flights each day. This airport food service has now evolved to more than 100 airports.

  • Miller Furniture created the first office cubicle unit as the result of an employee suggestion.

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