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Despite the headline and the image, it’s not actually a Blue Diamond I am referring to when I mention GEMS, but the Ministry of Defence GEMS Staff Engagement and Innovation scheme which was introduced in 1996. For me personally, 1996 wasn’t such a great year; Take That announced their split, Glen Hoddle succeeded Terry Venables as England Manager and Man Utd did the double (beating my beloved Liverpool in the FA Cup). However the launch of the GEMS scheme along with the Spice Girls releasing ‘Wannabe’ were two things that clearly stopped it being a total write-off.

An online search for ‘MOD GEMS’ throws up some unlikely results such as Clash of Clans or Clash Royale – not quite the GEMS I’m looking for, but very popular games I hear. The online ‘hits’ that do relate to MOD GEMS throw up links to the information management hosting system used for the scheme, a blog from October 2014 on the Gov.uk website talking about the 2014 winners, and an article from 2012 in the Sixth Sense Newspaper Online (a service for the British Force’s Germany Community), but that’s about it. Within the MOD, however, there are regular updates and announcements, increasing awareness of the scheme and encouraging the submission of ideas.

Run by the Ideas Management team at MOD Main Building, the GEMS scheme is a defence-wide staff suggestion scheme to encourage ideas that could improve the organisation, create efficiencies, introduce innovation and create time or cost savings. GEMS has proved incredibly successful to date, receiving approximately 2,000 suggestions and generating savings of an average of £13 million per year. The GEMS scheme is open to all MOD civilian and service personnel, including ex-employees, anywhere within the Department. If an idea is implemented and there are proven benefits, then there is a financial reward available (up to £10,000 I heard), along with recognition for the suggestion. A reward like that could go some way towards a Blue Diamond saving fund!

An awards event is held annually to celebrate the ideas that have been implemented and are making a difference - this year’s ceremony was held last week in London. There were several award categories available and an overall ‘Idea of the Year’ selected from all the nominations. The judges comprised representatives from across the MOD, including Navy Command, Land Forces, Air Command, JFC, DE&S, DIO and HO&CS. Given the volume of ideas submitted and the number of categories and judges involved, the MOD GEMS team have been using AWARD® to manage all the entries and complete their judging online, against an agreed set of criteria. AWARD® ensures the integrity of the judging process, supporting the evaluation of submissions in a robust, controlled and objective manner; without bias towards the entrants.

I am certain it won’t be long until we hear more about the ceremony and this year’s winners, I’ll keep a look out and let you know when they are published.

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