“In November 2010, I was the shop lead foreman for a powdercoating company. We had landed a $2.1 million annual contract with an important new customer, Korvis Automation. They had anything from frames built of tube steel, to sheet metal that covered the frames and everything in between; all of these parts were included in our powder coating contract. Korvis had requested their parts be antique white, what came out after the parts were run through our system was nowhere near any kind of white. We were burning, over-cooking their parts and this was actually changing the finished color.
“So, I suggested that we either change the pigment color of the paint we were using, or turn down the oven, go to a longer baking cycle by running the parts through the furnace slower. My boss ignored my idea, acted like it wouldn’t work; nothing was done and the problem persisted. Months went by and we were still having this color quality problem. Then the shop foreman took my idea to the owner, explained how we could make it work and why he thought it would solve the problem. He didn’t bother to mention it was my idea in the first place; he didn’t give me even the slightest credit for the idea. Boy, I was mad!
“So, they decided to lower the temperature and run the customer’s parts on the longer, slower, baking cycle I had originally calculated, and this completely solved the color quality problem.
“The lesson I learned from my boss stabbing me in the back is the feeling of betrayal and personal violation that is experienced when someone steals my idea and then sells my idea as their own without giving me credit.
“The action I call you to take, when new approaches are being employed, is look for every way possible to follow Leadership Principle #8 – ‘Let It Be Their Idea.’ Give the people on your team full credit for any and all suggestions and ideas that anyone has even hinted at.
“The benefit you will gain is a high performance, engaged team that continues to bring you bright ideas that shorten cycle time, improve quality and reduce cost.”
Geoffrey, with an easy to follow story is showing us a way we can all see clearly; a scenario that I have heard hundreds of times over the years. We can’t go back; we can’t change the past or others. We can commit to always giving full credit to others who bring us ideas.