Vaughan Inventors: Engaging Employees and Searching for Innovation
This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
The City of Vaughan’s strategic plan is centred on service excellence. A key component of delivering service excellence is ensuring employees are engaged and empowered to do the very best job they can, as well as strengthening perational performance and enhancing citizen experience. On June 2, the Public Works portfolio kicked off a new employee engagement initiative called Vaughan Inventors. This project actively involved staff in enhancing the citizen experience and advancing operational performance by providing a forum to listen and act on staff-generated ideas.
Styled like CBC’s Dragons’ Den and ABC’s Shark Tank, the Vaughan Inventors pitch competition offered an opportunity for staff to present their ideas on how to improve processes and procedures in their everyday work. Five workshop and training sessions were provided in the few weeks before the competition to facilitate the development and pitch of the ideas. The program was a huge success on the employee engagement front. Thirty-Seven Public Works staff, including both office and service employees, presented 19 original ideas to a panel of colleagues acting as judges.
After a day of incredible presentations, demonstrations and prototypes, the inaugural Vaughan Inventors trophy was awarded to Carmen Cicchillo, Brian Rego, Joseph Iamundo and Fabrizio Cavalluzzo for their invention of the Easy Mulch Wheelbarrow. The Easy Mulch Wheelbarrow is an innovative redesign of a traditional gardening device that dumps mulch right at the base of the tree, thereby reducing the time and effort needed to spread the mulch and increasing the efficiency of the operation.
In addition to creating a more productive, open work environment, engaging employees can also foster innovation internally. With this program, staff were encouraged to innovate and bring forth new ideas that can help make the City a more efficient service driven organization. In the coming months, a handful of the ideas presented will be implemented and the program will be offered to the remaining Public Works departments, from Infrastructure Delivery to Environmental Services. If you have any questions about the Vaughan Inventors program or would like more information about the ideas that were presented, please don’t hesitate to contact: Nadia Paladino at 905-832-8585 ext. 8054 or Yaakov Spivak at ext. 8998.