For most of us, we have either started harvest (veggie growers) or are gearing up for the harvest season. I know what this means -- few of you are actually reading my blog as it is that time of year where there is just none to give. The busy season is not when major improvements on operational processes, work policies or equipment changes should be made. But it is the prime time to gather ideas on what needs to change.
It's the season in which inefficiencies really have a tendency to shine. Frustrations can be seen on the faces of the team when unnecessary delays, communication breakdowns or equipment issues arise. No operation is perfect, things are going to happen, but for an operation to continually improve, those occurrences need to be addressed.
Depending on your farm and the technology you utilize there can be several ways to harvest and centralize those in-the-moment ideas. Often if you wait until after harvest to gather thoughts from the team, you will end up with blank stares as the long hours just make memory a blur.
If your team utilizes iPhones and iPads in the field you could capture and share the data in the cloud. There are several apps out there to utilize, depending on the technology and operating system you use, such as OneNote or KeyNote.
Another idea would be to create an email account (like firstname.lastname@example.org for example) and all the staff could email their thoughts – an email suggestion box, if you will. You would then designate someone in the office to organize them for you.
With a little less technology available there are still other options. There is always the old fashioned wipe board. Have an improvement board that anyone can write on, perhaps next to the time clock. Or simply give everyone a designated notebook and instruct them to take daily notes in the field -- what worked well, what didn't. After harvest each employee can use their daily log to later review common themes.
Starting a process like this is not always easy at first. It will be up to management to continually encourage their staff to take notes and show by example your efforts in the process. Rewards are always a good way to get the team on board. You could give a reward for the best idea generated for the year or reward the team as a whole if they write down a certain number or ideas.