Jose Bento talks of his ideas with vivacity. He eagerly goes to the warehouse to show one of his first suggestions, integrated in the Colombo project – the internal ideas competition which CUF has promoted since 2006. “It was very difficult to transport this ceramic piece, we wasted a lot of hours and there was a good change of damaging it. That is why I invented this palette which surrounds it and permits easier transportation”.
Jose Bento, the operator behind this, likes to observe his work with inquisitive eyes. As such he felt that the appearance of the Colombo Plataform was something very positive, not so much because of the money, albeit that 150 Euros for an approved idea “always comes in handy”, but for the possibility of contributing with his proposals in a “normal” way. “In the past, our bosses sometimes had difficulty in listening to our suggestions. With Colombo, the employees’ contributions have become normal and even encouraged”. That is the aim of the Colombo Plataform, allowing CUF to capitalize on the employee’s knowledge and to encourage it.
Sebastiao Moutinho, the current head of the Project, outlines an exciting picture: “In nine years we’ve counted 333 ideas that were presented, of which 98 were approved and 72 were implemented. And they continue: “With invaluable intangible benefits and with a substantial financial return, Colombo is a greatly successful initiative”.
The majority of ideas enable the company to improve on the existing mode of work, but it isn’t “disruptive” and more than likely none of them receive a patent of a great invention. Despite this, Ana Casaca, the Coordinator of the Department of Innovation and Sustainability, highlights that the true capacity of Colombo goes beyond that: “the true innovative and even disruptive, in the good sense, nature of the Project is with its capability, which it has shown during the last few years, of motivating its employees to think about their work and how to improve on it”.
The result is excellent, also in an economic point of view. It is estimated that so far the ideas have resulted in a gain for the company of over 475 thousand Euros and that those same innovations have yielded more than 2,675,000 Euros up to the end of the exploration time. It’s a true Columbus egg!