on Aug 23rd, 2010 in Labor | 27 comments
 
To encourage employees to contribute constructive ideas to enhance customer satisfaction, generate revenue, increase productivity, and improve competitiveness, the Postal Service offers the web-based eIDEAS program. Postal employees can submit ideas online or at a mail processing plant kiosk. The Office of Inspector General recently issued a management advisory report titled eIDEAS Timeliness and Transparency. The audit’s objective was to identify opportunities for the Postal Service to enhance the timeliness of the eIDEAS process and transparency of the resulting management actions. We found that eIDEAS reviews took far too long and management’s resulting actions were not transparent. Our survey of employees revealed that slow evaluations, poor management response, and lack of program transparency inhibited the program’s success. If you are a postal employee or a stakeholder, do you believe you have a way for your suggestions to be heard? Is eIDEAS the best way for employees to communicate their ideas? Whether you are a postal employee or not, do you believe there is a better way to encourage and gather employee input? If so, let us know in the comments section below. This topic is hosted by the OIG's Audit Engineering and Facilities team.

27 Comments

eIdeas was probably designed to mirror the business process by which many things happen in the company, but the process is the root cause of the problem. If we were to change the business process for evaluating new ideas to be more like crowdsourcing with feedback permitted by anyone, ranking, weighting, etc. then we could devise a better technical solution. A better technical solution that emulates a best practice process without changing how people actually work is, likewise, not a good approach. The other option is to adopt a commercially available best practice process and solution and change how we operate internally to emulate the best practice process. After all, idea generation and innovation management is a commodity capability, and we should not be building solutions to address such functionality in the first place. An example of a best practice process and solution is something like Spigit. Do not concern yourself with the solution per se but rather the process and the capability. There are any number of best practice solutions that are commercially available.

Enterprise Architect

e-Ideas was designed for only one, rather limited, type of suggestion. It only works for ideas that can be tested locally and expanded if the local test is successful. e-Ideas doesn't work at all for suggestions for improvements to any national systems, processes, or programs. And frankly, there are very few systems, processes, or programs anywhere in this organization which are local in design and execution. So as far as I'm concerned, e-Ideas is 95% irrelevant and is therefore a failure.

Thank you, I have recently been searching for information
approximately this subject for a long time
and yours is the greatest I've found out till now. However, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you positive about the source?

Should be set up as you would a Patent...

I put in two suggestion (eideas) and both were shot down' but two to three years later someone else got the "eIdea through. How'd that happen?

MYSTERY!!!

One suggestion through the Carrier Envolvement Program, for the USPS to recycle all of the UBBM!

Shot down by the postmaster. Two years later - - adopted ...
Now how much do we make in recycling of waste from UBBM???

The other to have Government Payroll check review on website...

Shot down by my manager again... Again adopted a year or two later...

Another suggestion I had submitted was to conduct route inspection on a Ipad type computer... Naw! no chance....

Forgot to suggest this one...

Have the suggestion (eIdeas) go through the same process as one would submit a Patent....

eIDEAS is a good system on paper, but a terrible one when applied. I know of too many instances where a low level employee put in a suggestion through eIDEAS, only to be shot down and a member of management later taking the idea and getting credit as if they came up with it.

Another problem is that there is too much fear of retribution. You cannot be in the position of clerk, carrier or Postmaster and make a suggestion to improve things without being seen as "rocking the boat" or causing trouble. Once that happens, then you are on the radar. We know how to do our job better than those in upper management do, yet they are the ones who think they know better-despite never doing the job. With the PS being run as a top-down organization, systems like this will always fail.

Something that needs to be done is some form of required feedback from those who actually do the job whenever a new system is implemented or revised. This did happen when the eLearning system rolled out, and should be done with all other systems and programs (especially ebuy2-a system that is probably costing us more time and money than the original system).

Nothing will work until management starts listening to the ideas that are already - daily- coming in. The name of the game is get today's work done. "we don't have time for problem solving. Tomorrow is another day and we'll deal with it tomorrow". That is the attitude.

I retired in 2007 but several months (maybe even a couple of years or longer) before I retired I submitted a suggestion outlining how USPS could save millions by removing collection routes and collection boxes that were not needed. Included in my suggestion was my ideas on modified 6-day delivery. My suggestion(s) was submitted to my PM - I never received confirmation for my suggestion. Move several months down the road and my suggestion starts being implemented nationwide...collection boxes, and collection routes, being abolished everywhere you look.

So, some PM, and I believe I know which one, must have received credit and possible award for my suggestion. That, sir, is the reason USPS can not move forward...they see no value in their employee ideas and suggestions...even down to asking them the best, safest, quickest way to deliver a mail route.

Back to the suggestion...this also happened to me LONG ago at USPS. I suggested a national postal museum (long time before our current one) - my idea was published in our local USPS newsletter. As you know - no credit was given to anyone for suggesting the birth of a national postal museum.

Hey, I heard of this program. Oh, sorry about that. You have to be a career employee to have a brain and an idea which could benefit our team. Sorry part timer, you can't play.
Duh

The process takes too long. I, for instance, offered an idea. I asked the postmaster numerous times what had happened to my idea. He said that it was working and had indeed been sent on to Washington for final analysis. 17 months later I got an email that said that the idea had been canceled by the postmaster. He said he didn't do it. Ha!Ha! I filed an appeal and that only took 3 or 4 months before denial. They said it was turned down because we already did what I was proposing. What I proposed originally was not in practice at the time of submission. By the time my appeal was denied the PO had started using my idea. Guess someone else got credit for the idea. Local management is scared to pass on new ideas in fear that they will be looked sown upon as rocking the boat. They either deny ideas or steal them for themselves. I have an idea that could save a ton of money, but, I am not going to waste my time since it will be turned down. Let the really smart managers figure it out for themselves, if in fact we are still in business by the time they get around to thinking up such a simple idea.

All USPS really cares about is conformity. They send in function4 people to tear apart your office and tell you how to do things. Their changes make things less efficient and harder. Management does not want to hear ideas, they only want to dictate, right down to how much mail do you pick up in a handful, or where you set the flats bucket down {I realize the flats bucket and my feet will not fit in the same space at the same time, but they can't/won't understand such things, you have to do it "their way" as they know better}. If they can't even allow enough atonomy to allow you to decide where to set down a bucket of Mail you re boxing from, how will they ever take a suggestion about anything serious?

I find eIDEAS laughable. Customer Connect was my idea. About 8 months before Customer Connect came on-line, I’d referred a potential customer to the CMO of the Postal Service...customer had a satellite office in my district, but corporate was somewhere else. After submitting the lead and hearing back from the CMO that they were on it, I followed up with a suggestion that the Postal Service establish an incentive-based program for letter carriers to submit leads for new business. After all, carriers are in businesses every day and can see what competing products companies are utilizing. Never heard back…then 8 months later; Voila! Customer Connect.

I’m done. YOU save the Postal Service. I’m just going to continue to do my job safely, accurately and efficiently and then I’m out. Plagiarists…

when I retired I had seven e-ideas that had not been acted upon. these ideas had been on the books since the e-idea program started.

the program is like every other postal program USELESS because no one in management is held responsible.

With a real company,an ideas program engages and motivates the employees to make a difference, it connects an employee to his work. Well we all know the Postal Service isn't a real company, thus the e-IDEA system is run by individuals who don't care about the employee , who don't know how the system works, and who wouldn't know a good idea if it slapped them in the face!

Employee input is not wanted, period! Where have you been living the past several years? Not on this planet, especially not in the Post Office. This must be a joke.

I have known clerks and mail handlers that have submitted ideas to management regarding the efficiency of mail flow. The ideas were ignored, only to implemented by HQ five years later.

Of course they listen to you! Here's the proof....

Some internal postal management committee member
had the "brilliant" idea to include this optional eIDEAS periperal, into the "EHR" suite of Human Resources software, when they purchased it from XXX in 2004.

http://www.cwhonors.org/laureates/government/20055413.pdf

As you will note from the above URL. It's resulted in
many benefits to the USPS? Er... I guess...

Somebody at the USPS got a "well deserved" bonus... Particulary after the recent sub-committee press release about eIDEAS.

http://techinsider.nextgov.com/2010/08/usps_eideas.php

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On March 25, 2010, Reps. Lynch, Chaffetz, and Davis announced the reconvening of the Congressional Postal Caucus (CPC). Recently, the United States Postal Service unveiled a new business model to address unprecedented challenges largely due to the current economic environment and the rise in alternative means of communication. If nothing is done, the Postal Service expects to have an $8 billion shortfall by September 30, 2010 and suffer a net loss of $238 billion over the next 10 years.

Bringing the CPC back on line is intended to inspire and stimulate new ideas on how to put the Postal Service back on sound financial footing, assess the benefits and drawbacks of the proposals in Postal Service’s new business plan, and help Federal Policymakers tackle important postal matters such as 6-day delivery. The caucus will allow for a productive exchange of information and insight among members and will make sure that Congress is well-equipped to provide successful, permanent solutions to the Postal Service’s current and future issues. Collectively, the Members of the Congressional Postal Caucus will evaluate all viable options for securing a robust and vibrant Postal Service for years come.

According to CPC co-chair, Stephen F. Lynch, “The Congressional Postal Caucus will ensure that Congress effectively addresses the most challenging and important postal issues of our time. I am excited to be involved with the restoration of this important organization and am looking forward to seeing the benefits that this collaborative effort will bring to the entire postal industry.”

Jurisdiction includes federal employee issues, non-appropriation municipal affairs of the District of Columbia, and the Postal Service, including post office namings, holidays, and celebrations.

Majority

Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman
Eleanor Holmes Norton
Danny Davis
Elijah Cummings
Dennis Kucinich
Wm. Lacy Clay
Gerry Connolly

Minority
Jason Chaffetz, Ranking Member
Mark Souder
Brian Bilbray
Ahn "Joseph" Cao
Bill Shuster

Moral of story;
The next time you want to have management look at an idea you've got bouncin around up in your coconut,
send a copy of it to the above sub-committee members,
and be sure to include a copy to your district congressional member as well.

HAVE A NICE DAY!!!!!!!!!!

When I first read the survey questions I voted "NO" to "Is the eIdeas program beneficial to Postal Service Management" but then I thought about the question, and I would have to now vote "YES" , because Postal Service Management are the ones getting the credit and the money from the employees suggestions!

Are you kidding me? Until this Postal Enron stuff is resolved, we know nobody's listening.

http://deadtreeedition.blogspot.com/2010/08/potter-knew-of-bernstocks-sole-source.html

The OIG Engineering and Facilities team would like to thank everyone who responded to our blog concerning the eIDEAS program. We really appreciated your comments and suggestions expressing opportunities for improvement, and plan to post a follow-up blog soon.

Years and years ago, on the last page of whatever the little news magazine was back then, was a suggestion form to clip, fill in, and mail in. I suggested to buy some cheap portable tables for the people in post office lines to use to slide their parcels along on, and have forms available on them to use while they were waiting. No response, zip. But poof! They started building NICE ones, with the bells and whistles, and it is the best thing that ever happened for the postal customer in a post office.

I have two more suggestions that would save time and all that, but we could not access the idea site at home. At work was a joke. You can hardly go to the bathroom, much less ask for time on one of their precious computers to fill in a suggestion!

But I am going to try again!

I am with the guy who feels management sits on suggestions and then turns them in themselves.

Eideas is manipulated until someone at the top can pretend they came up with the idea.

2 comments worth noting. I submitted a suggestion at my post office that was adopted 12 years later. I also submitted 12 suggestions that just happened to disappear. one of the suggestions was for suggestions to be logged in and out at every level to prevent disappearance.

Do you think it would have made a difference if you printed out the information that was submitted? for proof?

I have been trying to submit ideas but it is impossible. eideas is not located anywhere on liteblue. the links supplied in PUB333 for eIDEAS are both invalid. PS FORM 1270 no longer can be downloaded anywhere that I have found and management cannot supply me a copy. What a horrible waste of employees idea power and incredible squashing of any initiative to help the company that we all work for.

The idea that local management, the last I knew, has to approve and test the idea, etc, (in any form or fashion) is ridiculous. Most of them either don't have time, or would not know the first thing about improving things, and now they have no empowerment at all. They can't do anything without approval from all steps higher up.

I have two ideas that would save a lot of time and make things easier at such little cost, but even to dare ask for time on the clock to get to one of "their" computers to be able to access wherever it is you submit ideas now is a joke.

Suggestions should be totally accessible via LiteBlue, and the general sense of it should be all that is necessary. Diagrams, cost analyses, etc are not necessary for some of the simpler ideas.

Make saving money and time easy and accessible!

I submitted an idea to local managment about recycling metals. It was in evaluation for two years. I made a transfer to another plant. The idea followed me. My new supervisor disapproved it because the new plant was already doing it. He refused to send it back to the original plant where it applied.

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