This may involve all concerned at any position with a view to garner substantial savings or improve productivity. This is called for by a top official like a CEO or President and this type of gathering is not frequency bound. There may be 2 or 3 problems selected where no replacement is possible without disturbing the production or ploughing into additional resources. There can also be issues not concerned with production but still result in substantial benefits. The ideal group is 15 to 50 members depending on the number of problems that need to be tackled. It can be less or more depending on the need.
Methodology: The session can be of 1 to 3 sittings or even more if required. The group members are called exclusively for the session depending on their involvement with the issue. They sit around a table which include the CEO or President and each member is told to give one suggestion at a time for each problem. All the suggestions are recorded and how ever crazy the suggestion may be there should not be any mockery or rejection. If a member does not have any suggestion to give he says ‘pass’ and the next member can speak. When the group is exhausted with suggestions then all the suggestions are summarized and then short listed. For clarification on any aspect the member who gave the suggestion is sought. The CEO then intervenes to explain the outright rejections. The short listed suggestions are discussed by the group and finally those that are feasible are selected. Those selected are put up by the CEO to the top management for permission or resources later. Then the next problem is taken up and the process is repeated.
I have participated in 2 such sessions. One is for increasing production and the other is for improvements in the guest house of the Company. The third one was purely technical but as it was happening in our company, I being in a senior position, was informed about the outcome. I’ve tried to mention briefly about the three brain storming sessions.
The first one was about increasing the production of switchgear by 60% as there was demand for the same. Being in-charge of the supply chain for that SBU my presence was required in the brain storming session for out sourced components so that I could develop additional sources or gear up the suppliers for additional or increased quantities. The time frame was set for 3 months. I accepted the challenge and asked for some cooperation from other departments. This was accepted. After the session the work from my side was entrusted to competent team members along with my close monitoring and visits to suppliers the task could be achieved. Internally I had to reorganise the receipt and issue stores for the purpose. Likewise other departments had to do their side of planning and work. The end result was that a few crores of rupees were added to the profits of the corporate company.
The second company where I participated in a brain storming session was a process industry. As I was in a senior position, I had to participate in the session and my boss who was also a CEO asked me to attend it. The guest house was attached to the plant and executives from senior level had to visit the plant. But the guest house was not maintained well and as a result the executives were staying in hotels of grade I and above. This was resulting to an added burden of few lakhs of rupees to the company. The brain storming session was for the purpose of saving this money and maintaining the guest house to 2 star or 3 star hotel standards. There were about 38 executives participating in the session and it lasted for 6 hours. I played my role by giving a few suggestions. Finally, the guest house was well furnished and renovated as per the suggestions given in the session and the company saved on the hotel bills. The company had to spend an equivalent of about 6 months hotel expenses during the renovation and furnishing period, but that was for one time only.
The third one was in a process industry, regarding excessive consumption of various consumables which catered to the machines through pipelines and valves. This excluded high speed diesel whose system for generator and other machines was separate. The consumption rose by almost 40% during a year and the technical staff was unable to pin point the reason. Therefore a brain storming session was convened which included 2 workers, technical staff and Engineers headed by the Plant Maintenance In-charge. After discussions based on the suggestions of workers and other plant maintenance personnel it was concluded that since the plant was more than 15 years old it required replacement of all the valves. This was found to be correct as after the replacements took place the consumption went down drastically. The company could manage save the 40% excess consumption and perhaps even more.