Insights

#296: Please hold, your suggestion is important to us

Do you know why managers love the good old suggestion box?

What do you mean you don’t know what a suggestion box is? No, I don’t mean your company’s complaint hotline. I’m talking about the box attached to the wall. The box with a slot and a lock. The one that captures your signed constructive ideas for productivity improvements or cost savings. And even less helpful ideas, unsigned.

Maybe you are too young to know The Box. Or maybe you know it as an email address with the name suggestions@ or something similar. Maybe that’s why you don’t use it. Because you’re smart enough to know that emails are never anonymous.

In that case, you may well ask why I am even talking about suggestion boxes. Well, I have always hoped that companies would one day snap out of using machines to answer customer calls. But the latest iteration of AI Chatbots (look it up) has doomed us to an indefinite future of still hearing the following message:

“Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold.”

That’s right. Your call is so important that the company cannot risk exposing you to one of its humans. No, you say, it’s not that they don’t have good enough people. It’s a simple cost saving measure.

Yes, and if you believe that, then you are one of the few people alive who still believe in the suggestion box.

Putting a machine in between the customer and the organization is the same management mentality that came up with putting the suggestion box in between the employee and the boss.

Do you know why managers love the good old suggestion box? (You thought I would never answer, didn’t you?) Because it does exactly what it is designed to do. It boxes your suggestion. There is no way an idea can expand, develop, or grow in a box that has boxed it. A box with a lock.

And why does your boss want your suggestions boxed? Because suggestions create more work, that’s why.

You still don’t believe me? Then, tell me, when was the last time top management gave you honest, transparent feedback about that sinister “employee satisfaction survey” they told you to complete?


Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.