DISH Value #4: Using Initiative and Innovation

Imagine with me a world, a paradise. What would DISH be like in a perfect world? I imagine janitors having a fleet of robots to clean the grounds and a completely electronic invoicing system. Doug Gary imagines dance parties every night, private baths for tenants and more employee-celebration. But that’s not where we are now at DISH. How do we reach that glorious moment as an organization? It’s a long path, but you can just make out an answer if you squint hard enough: initiative and innovation. With that goal in mind, I talked to the crew at the Empress to ask them about initiative and innovation. We came up with four truths:

The Empress crew takes innovation seriously. No really, they do!

Truth #1:
“Little things make a big difference,” says Emily van Loon, Assistant General Manager. Indeed they do. A good example is one of Janitor PJ Bowman’s contributions: “I helped to push for us to leave trash bags at the bottom of trashcans,” says PJ. Putting a bag at the bottom of a trashcan might save 30 seconds every time you change a trash bag, but if you change ten trash bags in a building, you’ve saved five minutes every day. Extrapolate that out further, and you’ll save twenty-five minutes every week, and by the end of the year you’ll have saved more than 20 hours’ worth of work! So if you’ve got a suggestion, no matter how small it might seem, talk with your manager about it. It just might end up saving you hours of work.

Truth #2:
Recognize other people’s innovations. “Innovation comes from everyone. You have to hear everyone and listen to their opinion,” states Justin McBride, General Manager. It’s definitely important to recognize a good idea when you hear it, because “there are lots of ideas, but not all of them get implemented,” says PJ. Someone has to make sure that a good idea gets set in place. Putting innovation into practice is just as important as coming up with the innovation in the first place!

Derek keeps vigilant watch at the desk.

Truth #3:
You’ve probably been innovative without realizing it. Think about what your priorities are. For Derek Tucker, Desk Clerk at the Empress, that means safety and security are paramount. This means that he’s developed a routine where he watches through the door outside of the Empress, that way he can be ready for trouble before it even arrives. Innovation is as simple as asking yourself, “How can I do a good or better job of what I value?”

Truth #4:
Take a look at what frustrates you. That’s how Craig Myers, maintenance worker at the Empress, is inspired to innovate. “Something pops out at you,” he says, “and you think to yourself, couldn’t this be easier?” Voila! That’s the perfect opportunity for innovation to take place. If you find yourself in that situation, ask yourself, “How could this be easier or better?” Take a moment, and reflect. What ideas do you have? Is there a similar situation where you do something differently? Once you’ve got an idea, share it with your co-worker or your supervisor. Congratulations! You’ve helped DISH to be innovative.

Remember, there’s no idea too small to be heard. The best ideas come from you, people who are working with an issue every day. Don’t be shy; go forth, and be innovative!

Published on April 6, 2012