Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Culture for Innovation

The first challenge to corporate leadership is to create a culture for innovation in and around their organizations. The following kinds of actions are needed.

Encourage introspection on the recent track record of innovation at all levels – group, corporate, division, region, factory, etc. Are people satisfied?

Guard against complacency, by asking for inter-firm comparisons and benchmarking on innovation, against Indian and global competitors.

Carry out a survey of the existing organizational culture with respect to innovation:

*What forces support innovation

* What forces inhibit innovation

The survey may be formal or informal. It could be done internally or commissioned by an external agency.

Let the concerned persons know the findings of the survey. Invite suggestions for improving the culture for innovation.

Build on the suggestions. Add to them. Make the necessary changes in the top/senior management attitudes, styles, structure and systems, to foster innovation.

Encourage, support, demand, recognize and reward innovation in all relevant aspects.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Experiential Metaphor

Experiencing an event is totally different from thinking about it. The information from the five senses rush in and the ideas generated will reflect the ecstasy of the experience. One of our groups went on a turtle walk on a beach. They saw a large turtle alone on the sand; one of them came up with the idea that individuals in an organization should be allowed space to grow without interference, in solitude.

Yet another saw the clumsy shambling, turtle and came up with an idea that postulated the exact opposite: Let the organizational plan be clear and precise.

Access, dreams, visions, floating thoughts and synthesize them into you plans. For example, the best way to understand a tree is to become a tree in the storm.

How do you experience a tree?

I will become a tree in the storm,

Tossing my green and hoary locks.

Turning my sightless eyes.

Towards the arrows of lighting.

Shivering with delight

As the dark and angry skies

Thunder through my heart

And the battalions of rain

Tear down the might mountainside

I feel-----

Like a million flickering lamps were lit

In the dark violence of the hurricane

Like a thousand temple bells

Were rung, in the stillness of the night

And all the mighty forces of the storm


And flowed like molten music

In my veins

Live each moment fully; never be a spectator. For, spectators get nothing out of life. Participants get everything. They live life in all its richness. The quality of their thought is in rich, vibrant, technicolour.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Idea generation programme

The idea generation programme can be clear and consistent, reaching down to all levels of the organization. Usually, they are sporadic characterized by suggestion boxes that are not opened or exit interviews that are not analyzed. Successful idea generation programmes are long term and transparent. Good ideas are immediately and publicly rewarded. The programme has a greater chance of success when creativity tools are taught in advance.

Innovation should be practiced on live problems, to achieve buy-in from stake holders. Creativity is not a more ‘feel good’ tool for recreation. It is a robust method of dealing with Key Result Areas. All innovations should be harnessed to new ideas and specific business goals. This would then enable us to clearly measure the bottomline results of such an initiative.

Linking ideas to specific business goals is important. Actually using creativity techniques on specific, important business goals alone, can ensure that innovation impacts the bottomline.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Out – innovating the Competition

The greatest competitive advantage comes from out - innovating the competition. As Tom Peters put it, “Add ten differentiations to every product or service, every 60 days. Sounds impossible? Yes: Is it tough? It is. But what’s the option? Your competitors are not sitting still”

Creativity is the ultimate human resource which can ensure the competitive advantage of companies. It is the use of creative thinking tools that can provide the competitive edge required to face the challenge of globalization. Creativity may become essential for survival in developing countries where there is such a major limitation of resources.

There are three elements involved in developing a creative atmosphere:

1. Extend effort

2. Suspend judgment

3. Postpone reaction.

The first step is to separate idea generation from analysis. One of the main reasons why a typical business session does not yield too many breakthrough ideas, is because managers are too busy shooting down each others’ ideas. That is why meetings usually produce boring, bland, safe and often useless suggestions.