Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Areas Ripe for Innovation

The adoption of cutting-edge technologies is among the most important areas for ensuring the future success of a company. For example, when industries in Tirupur adopted advanced spinning technology, this small town in Tamil Nadu found a place in the world markets, transforming it into a world-class facility for spun knitwear. Conversely, when the flourishing textile mills of Coimbatore failed to keep pace with the cutting-edge technologies adopted by the Japanese, the whole industry went into doldrums.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Individual creativity should be rewarded

The climate in many Indian companies is one of maintaining the status quo, where the management is more likely to opt for minor changes than trying to achieve dramatic breakthroughs. An individual rarely crosses the invisible borderline of what is widely accepted practice. To break this self-imposed barrier, it is essential for companies to publicly reward individual creativity, since rewards nurture creativity by affirming its value to the organization. Employees should be given innovation role-models in order to convey the importance of innovation to them. Even when an innovation fails, the innovator should not be punished for taking the risk. In fact, his initiative should be rewarded.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Used properly, suggestion boxes are a valuable tool

The use of suggestion boxes is a time-honored way of collecting ideas anonymously from employees and customers. However, suggestion boxes are often perceived as boxes where suggestions are lost. An organizational effort to make the process of analyzing and acting on suggestions, and rewarding them promptly and publicly, can improve their effectiveness. When desired, anonymity should be offered. Suggestion boxes can give us a lot of information if they are properly used.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Facilitators and outside consultants can be leveraged to kick-start innovation

Over a period of time, companies should train facilitators to take the innovation initiative forward. Such facilitators should be problem owners leading commando teams to solve problems in key result areas. Local facilitators are necessary for the long-term success of an innovation initiative. Outside help may be required initially to train the facilitators.

Outside consultants may be leveraged to put in place systems and processes required to institutionalize the practice of innovation. Stars make use of outside consultants to teach the tools of creativity leading to innovation, and to create a climate of innovation where the tools can be practiced.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Innovation Centers drive innovation

An Innovation Center that encourages the study of creativity and innovation tools is useful to help develop the culture of innovation. Such a center could include a library, a meeting room and a training center. Innovation symposiums may be held every month to highlight innovation successes. A hall of fame for innovators in the company could provide motivation for people to undertake the risk of innovation. The development of an Innovation Center indicates a long-term commitment to organizational innovation.

An open atmosphere ensures greater productivity

The atmosphere of a meeting is crucial. Meetings where people feel free to express themselves openly produce the most creative ideas. Listening skills are crucial. Thinking tools can ensure that everyone is able to think differently and intensively on the subject. The rules for idea generation and the creation of a positive atmosphere include the suspension of judgment, the postponement of reactions to an idea and the extension of efforts to support an idea.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Innovation should focus on specific business goals

Creativity is not a mere ‘feel-good’ tool for recreation. All innovation initiatives should focus on ideas that tackle problems related to important business goals. This enables measurement of the bottom line results of such an initiative.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Idea generation programs are efficient tools for innovation

Idea generation is a powerful tool that can be leveraged to drive innovation. In order to be successful, the idea generation program must be clear and consistent, reaching down to all levels of the organization. However, not following through on an idea generation program dooms it to
failure, as can be seen in suggestion boxes that are never opened and exit interviews that are not analyzed. Successful idea generation programs are long-term and transparent. Good ideas are immediately and publicly rewarded. These programs have a greater chance of success when creativity tools are taught in advance.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Conformity and stereotypes hinder creative problem solving

Everyone can learn to be much more creative by learning problem solving methods. One method of stimulating creativity is by encouraging people to break through stereotypes that impede their creative abilities. Stereotypes have destroyed many budding innovators. A hostile environment that is not receptive to new ideas prevents the verbalization of all but the most obvious ideas, thereby stunting innovation. The culturally enforced need to be sensible and practical can prevent many conformists from presenting anything truly creative. These self-imposed barriers to creativity can be eliminated by awareness and organizational interventions.

The ability to thrive in an environment of rapid change is essential

Change happens whether we want it or not. We live in an era of unremitting, constant change, and we need to adapt in order to succeed. Being proactive about change and creating change is critical to innovation. Stars feel that the management of change is of paramount importance. On the other hand, non-starters behave like ostriches - they dig their heads under the sand and pretend nothing is happening, making them unwilling victims of change. They don’t train their employees to handle change, thus leading to a loss of competitiveness. This failure was apparent when computers started to become widely used in the corporate world - numerous workers became redundant, as they had not been trained to use computers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

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.

Friday, January 13, 2012

12. Teamwork drives innovation

Organizations should infuse their employees with a sense of a greater mission, since companies whose employees have a holistic view of their organization are much more likely to work together towards a common goal, than those whose employees feel they work for a single division

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Motivation of employees and innovation complement one another

It is essential to give people meaning and purpose in the work place. The practice of innovation can bring back the joy and responsibility of craftsmanship that is missing in many organizations. In order to motivate and retain their best employees, Stars had clear policies to reward innovation. Their employees were not just passive spectators, who followed orders, they were active participants in the process of innovation.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The lack of collaboration between departments stifles innovation

Turf protection prevents teams within a company from working seamlessly together. Departments in competition with each other often create serious obstacles, not just to innovation, but even to everyday functioning. During turf wars, people spend more time protecting their territories than in striving to achieve organizational goals. Setting up cross-functional teams is a key method of promoting collaboration between departments. Since cross-functional teams give multiple departments a common goal, they result in the breaking down of barriers between departments, thereby reducing conflict and fostering collaboration.

Vision and leadership

Vision and leadership are necessary to inspire a widespread commitment to innovation. It is imperative for top management to communicate a vision that inspires innovation. Mahatma Gandhi’s influence on the Indian freedom movement exemplifies the importance of inspiring people with a vision. He made use of simple, yet powerful messages such as ‘Quit India,’ ‘Satyagraha,’ ‘Non-cooperation’ and ‘Swadeshi’ to inspire his countrymen, and thus led the nation to freedom. ‘Do or die,’ ‘Be Indian, Buy Indian,’ ‘Vande Matharam,’ ‘Satyameva Jayathe’ were the magic bullets of truth that he used.

Monday, January 9, 2012

10 Commandments of Innovative Thinkers

1. The capacity to truly respect another’s ability to think.

2. To create a positive field where others can think.

3. The capacity to explore alternatives rather than
supporting existing facts.

4. Never to hold non-negotiable opinions.

5. The capacity to see the useable parts of the most
radical ideas.

6. Become aware of your prejudices and assumptions
and eliminate them.

7. Create movement in a situation, like throwing a
pebble into a pond.

8. Love, respect, appreciate yourself.

9. Learn the mathematics, the tools of innovation.

10. Involve all through participation and commitment.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New trends in business

* Entrepreneurship needs innovation. It is creativity that will fuel this emerging revolution. Over 18% of India’s workforce is into entrepreneurship. Compare this with the 10.2% in USA. India has moved from being a brand that stands for imitation to a name in innovation.

* India has filed 4,000 patents in five years. Over 100 top MNCs in India and Indian research labs are fuelling the innovator’s dream. Multinationals have even tried to patent basmati rice and 2000 year old ayurvedic drugs, while we keep dreaming of our glorious tradition. We need to wake up.

* India’s youth want the world and they want it now! 54% of India’s population is now under 25. The ‘core competence of India’ is her brilliant young people. Our intellectual capital or MindsPower is our Unique Selling Proposition (USP), provided we put it to productive use.

* Labor is a far more important factor of growth than Capital.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


The greatest competitive advantage comes from out-innovating the competition. Innovation is the ultimate human resource, which can ensure the competitive advantage of any organization. It is the use of creative thinking tools that can provide the competitive edge required for India to face the challenge of globalization.

Creativity may become our only tool for survival. The only way to achieve good performance in bad times is through innovation, using creative ideas in business. Limited resources fuel innovation and corporate transformation.

Most successful Indian companies believe that creativity and innovation provide the competitive edge required for growth and profitability. However, very few have clear innovation policies and initiatives.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Important Elements in Building a Culture of Innovation

 Long-term initiatives: It is essential for companies to engage in long-term initiatives to help ideas rise from the grassroots to the top quickly. Start-stop programs and on-off creativity sessions should be avoided as they are not very sustainable. It is also important for companies to get top management commitment, from the CEO downwards.
 Listen, reward and celebrate thinkers: Plan at least for a year. Talk to customers, suppliers and competitors. Listen to production, marketing and R&D internally. Get them to talk to each other. Reward and celebrate thinkers.
 Extend ultimate support: Support the best ideas, right through to completion. Hand hold through tough times. This is critical. Support your people through the dark night of the innovator.
 Change and opportunities: Look within the company and outside for innovative business ideas. Within the company every process presents an opportunity. Changes within the industry or market present opportunities. Ageing populations, working women, the latchkey children are all demographic changes that provide opportunities for innovation

Creative Tools and Resources must be Deployed

Inspiring consistent innovation is a complex process. Hiring people with widely divergent skills and risk taking abilities could set the stage. Universal knowledge of thinking tools, top management support, rewards, resources to implement project ideas are all ways to stimulate innovation. Never be satisfied with immediate solutions, since no solution can be the best for all time. Do not develop a single- minded infatuation with that idea, just because you thought of it first.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Time for Creativity

It is believed that people do their best, most innovative work, when challenged by tight deadlines. An occasional burst of creativity under pressure should not tempt organizations to keep up the relentless pressure. Complex thinking requires time for incubation. Processing information and coming up with high quality options takes time. Searching for a problem in a solution is also a function of creativity.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Creative Climate

Creativity has four components; they are creative person, creative process, creative product and creative climate. Of the four components, the most important by far is the creative ‘climate’ or environment. In future chapters of this book, we will gain a closer understanding of the importance of creative climate and how to create a climate optimum for maximizing creativity. The climate refers to the atmosphere created by verbal, tonal and non-verbal communication (which is really body language). An environment, which routinely switches on the ‘fight or flight’ response in human beings, reduces the capacity of individuals to act creatively. An atmosphere which is full of negative emotions - lust, anger, obsession, greed and jealousy - cannot be conducive to creativity. Conversely, an environment replete with the positive emotions of love, peace, bravery and compassion, provides a positive climate, which nurtures creativity.