Hill is full of ideas – literally.

  • Published
  • By Beth Young
  • Hilltop Times staff
For as long as Teri Gibby, the Hill Innovation Development Through Employee Awareness Program manager, can remember Hill has led the Air Force in ideas submitted and put into use by Team Hill members.

"Last year we had 879 ideas submitted and 425 of those were approved," she said.

The slogan of the IDEA program -- as it's better known to its users -- is "Show us a better way."

"The IDEA program is an incentive program for employees to participate in by suggesting changes to the way the Air Force does business and being rewarded for it," Ms. Gibby said.

The ideas can range from improving processes on an assembly line to a better way to file paperwork - anything that would benefit the Air Force. The ideas don't just have to improve work processes, but can be about traffic issues or improve safety, such as the idea submitted by Tony Butler.

"I suggested that we install some mirrors in the ceiling so we could see people coming at a very narrow juncture in the center of the building," he said. "Three years, many bruises, and hundreds of "oops, pardon me's" later, the idea got implemented."

The ideas can come from anyone, but only civilian employees and military members are eligible for cash awards. The monetary awards are 15 percent of the documented savings, with a $10,000 limit. For ideas with no tangible savings, such as those that improve safety or save time, the award is $200.

"Any idea is important, whether it saves a ton of money or just improves the workplace or safety," Ms. Gibby said.

Last year the ideas provided by Hill Team members saved the Air Force almost $11 million dollars and more than $300,000 was given out in awards. With that much of a savings it is no surprise that leadership supports the program.

"Maj. Gen. Kevin Sullivan (Ogden Air Logistics Center commander) backs the program," Ms. Gibby said. "When there is a $10,000 award he goes out and personally presents it. I think that shows that this is an important program."

The IDEA program seems to be a win-win for those with the ideas, who get awarded and see their workplace change for the better, and the Air Force, which gets innovative ideas from those who know the processes best - the employees.

"It gives workers the feeling of contribution and being part of a team," said Ryan Wagstaff, a regular contributor to the program. "So, yes, I would say go for it if you want, the worst thing they can tell you is no,"

Ms. Gibby says that the process to submit an idea is easy. The automated, paperless process starts at the HillNet home page under the Projects and Programs link.

"This gives you step-by-step instructions on how to submit," she said. "From there, I determine whether they are eligible by the criteria set by the Air Force."

Because it would be impossible for Ms. Gibby to understand all the processes of the base, the idea is forwarded on to the area where the idea would be implemented to have an expert evaluate it. The process to determine whether the idea will be used takes about 45 days.

"If the idea is not used, the evaluator is required to give a full explanation of why it couldn't be implemented," Ms. Gibby said.

Because no one works alone, they also don't have to come up with an idea on their own. A group can submit an idea and split any award money.

Although as manager of the IDEA program at Hill, Ms. Gibby is very busy, she still encourages Hill to keep the ideas coming.

"We have a workforce that really contributes," she said. "They like to change their environment. They care - not just about the award - but to see that things get done right."