March Madness a Boon to Your Business? Absolutely!

posted by Jackie Schmid on Monday, March 14, 2016 in Unified Communications and IT Blog

March Madness is known to many of us for intra-office bracket tournaments and lost productivity. Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. estimates U.S. businesses could lose as much as $1.3 billion in wages paid to distracted and unproductive workers.

What if we embraced the madness, and channeled the energy around the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament into making the company more productive? That is exactly what GreatAmerica has done for the past couple years, and you can do the same thing.

Why This Works

Team members working closest with your processes are going to face challenges throughout their day, and typically they’ll be customer-facing challenges. This is handled in one of four ways:

  1. Quietly endure the pain
  2. Grumble and gripe every time it happens
  3. Suggest a solution to their leader
  4. Implement the solution.

Since number 4 is rare in many organizations, March Madness is a way to stimulate implementation through internal competition.

How March Madness at GreatAmerica Works

True to “continuous improvement” form, our competition changes each year, but the basics are the same. Split your company up into manageable teams and ask them to come up with three ideas that address processes, customer experience or internal training. Each team has ten minutes to present their best idea to an un-biased panel who determines a winner for each round.

This criteria is used to judge the ideas:

  • Must address a pain point for the business
  • Must be practical and demonstrate common sense
  • Must not already be in development
  • Must be beneficial  to our customers, team members, and business

By the end of the tournament, you will have gathered ideas from all over the company for improvement – many of which are immediately actionable.

The Results

While fresh ideas are great, the most important result is cultivating innovation within your organization. This architecture of participation may be just what your team members need to feel inspired and begin to view everyday obstacles as opportunities.

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About The Author

Jackie Schmid is the Director of Strategic Marketing of the Unified Communications & IT Group at GreatAmerica Financial Services located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Jackie is responsible for building brand awareness and gaining strategic relationships through creative marketing. Prior to joining GreatAmerica, Jackie worked in the TV News industry as a producer and executive producer at the local CBS and FOX stations where she helped shape the programs delivered to the market. Jackie’s finance career began in 2011 when she joined GreatAmerica to support the sales team serving the Office Equipment space.

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