Organisation & culture building

Innovation : Why & How!

In the better part of the 20th century, the need for things to become smart was felt strongly as a result of the shift that economy took from conventional industries to newer avenues, then it became essential to supply goods to a market which was already populated with options and suppliers, logical manoeuvring took center stage pushing unidimensional pace to corners. It was done to reach the product right at the spot of consumption. Traditional manufacturing had to change itself to keep up with newer ways of buying, consumption, and service.

What was largely limited to manufacturing advances in the early days of the rage slowly made its way into other things as well, like – handheld devices,  washing machines, air conditioners & has even reached modern day speakers, yes, speakers now have a brain! Apple in its WWDC 2017 announced that its speaker will be powered by an A8 chip .. Amazone has been into this for nearly 8 months now.

A8 chip BTW on a relative scale can do all that a 1st generation computer could do, but at a 10X speed – Take a pause and think, how has capability increased with the size of the delivery engine shrinking in a proportion greater than the output itself.

Traditional ways of doing business are no longer profitable .. newer horizons are being explored by organizations – and all of it, like always, revolves in the realms of Ideas. Let me state a few examples – From rising of OLA & UBER to market for organizations like ZoomCar. Huge customer/user base that’s transacting on Facebook, Flipkart, WordPress or Paytm, for that matter, is a startling proof of that fact that this century – will welcome Ideas which provide the solution, like never before.

What is that one thing that underpins all of this?
It is Innovation!

If we were to make a word cloud of the content that is being spoken in corporations world over these days – ‘Innovation’ alone will occupy roughly about 30% of it, and will be followed by its tentacles – Ideas, strategy, smart, technology, automation- etc.

Something very similar to what you see in the below diagram ( Googled image)

What innovation really is? The answer to this question is not as simple and as straight forward as saying – two molecules of hydrogen combined with one molecule of oxygen is water. Different people define it differently, most try to come up with a definition that suits their need or in other words – they just try to state what they wish to attain thru innovation as its definition!

No answer is incorrect as long as it entails sentiments of Idea, solution & thinking.

I’ve tried applying my thoughts to try & define what innovation is for me.

Here is what I think.

Innovation is a continuous process by which existing knowledge and inputs are creatively and efficiently rearranged to create valuable outputs essentially consuming lesser resources.
Innovation is a value chain comprising of three progressive items: idea generation, conversion, and diffusion.
And my favorite – Innovation essentially is solutioning creatively & efficiently.
If an idea doesn’t solve a problem faced by the present generation or what will become a challenge in the future – it can be anything but innovation. Things like “out of box”, “Pathbreaking”, “Earth Shattering” – etc have great aesthetic value and immense presentational equity by the real essence of the entire drive is preparing for the future – being future ready!

Organizations around the world have been trying to evolve through “innovation” –  simply put, they wish to remain in the “game” and thus are willing to shed their inhibition and are ready to launch into the unchartered arena.

I’m no expert .. I do not know much .. my Ph.D. is not in innovation – but because I’m a keen observer and someone who has an appetite for reading (really long research work & white papers) etc. I can with a great amount of certainty say,  If you can get below three steps right – you’ve got the recipe for creating the culture of innovation in your organization. Validation of this concept, so to say, comes from 1.5 decades of experience that I’ve gathered working in top corporations.


Here is a little diagram ( photoshopped on MAC)

Let’s look at each of these; one after the other.

Gather  – You need to have your entire organization partner in this, all departments & verticals across all positions, roles, and levels – you’ll need to build a community of sorts and give them a platform to think and share. A simple tool with well-defined workflows will come handy. We know the goodness of incentivizing good behavior so won’t elaborate on it. We must reward those who contribute.
Offline – is surely not the best way to be.

Elect- In this phase, you require Subject Matter Experts (SME) to evaluate and elect the best ideas worthy of investing efforts & money – it is best done by a small group of individuals, make sure you at least have 1 PHDs in that group – Not saying those who aren’t Ph.Ds are not smart – it is just that, the whole exercise of getting a Ph.D. grooms you to look at all possible aspects of a subject.Basically, their horizons are extended & research background certainly helps.

Then comes the most critical part.

Execute- Simply put – in this phase selected ideas have to be turned into projects with defined milestones, well articulated ‘Measures of Success’ and clearly spelled out roles and responsibility. Let the team come up with the prototype of the solution, pilot it on a controlled group – validate your belief with the results and then go broad brush, make it an org-wide implementation.

But this is easier said than done – mistakes that I’ve witnesses organizations make.

1 Mistake enthusiasm for competence.
2 Value social skills over “Solid” delivery.
3 Providing limited – resources in terms of time, platforms, tool & capital.
4 Reading “Delays” as “Disappointment”
5 Not motivating the team enough.
6 Lastly not investing enough in details.

Always remember – a demotivate mind will never produce great results .. thru the process keep your people meaningfully engaged, boost their morale and give them the support that they expect to get. STAND FOR YOUR PEOPLE!

Approach the whole initiative with an open mind .. encourage people to think big, give them enough motivation and support to be bold – and RESULTS will knock at your door, remember – nobody works to fail!

Have a great weekend!

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