Creativity needs time and energy. The 6Ms (Men, Materials. Machines, Methods, Markets and Money) should be made available to the initiative over the long-term. Sustained innovation requires that resources are set apart for practice of the innovation process. Innovation spirals should meet.
A manager comments: “I m not sure I want my people to be more creative; they have trouble getting their work done on time and within the budget as it is.”
The way a company treats its top performers provides role models for all others. If such fast track performers are innovative, then others will see creativity and innovation as the path to success. If most star performers are cautious and rule bound, the clear message would be, “Be careful and just follow rules if you want to move up. Creativity does not pay”.
A risk, in fact anything new, involves the possibility of failure. The path to successful innovation may pass through a period when nothing seems to work. The organizational response to an unsuccessful innovation holds the key to whether the company will develop into an innovative company or not.
Organizations that institutionalize successful risk-taking by teams and individuals by public rewards and affirmations, are more likely to reinforce innovation through new and riskier paths. Performance should be monitored. Champions should be rewarded.
The world is in your drawing room, it is clamouring to change your life with more and more sophisticated toys. As a popular saying goes, ‘What separates the men from the boys is just the price of their toys.’ Simplify and go home to what you really need.
The world is like a buffet counter at a five-star hotel. Let’s not grab everything on our plates. Let us be choosy, so that we may avoid spiritual indigestion and physical exhaustion.
Let us replace stress with positive emotions that engender joy. Let us increase our Happiness Quotient (HQ).
Finding a job you love is one of the ways you can immunise yourself against heart problems.
A good marriage is a protective shield against heart attacks.
Merely avoiding negative emotions is not enough; one should consistently cultivate the positive emotions of love, compassion, courage and peace.
Taking risk is key to innovation. The more formal a company is, the less likely people are to do anything to rock the boat. Doing new things does involve some professional risk to the person leading the initiative. A lot of handholding by top management can encourage people to take risks.
Innovation happens on small budgets as proved by Velvette Shampoo, sold in one-rupee sachets for the poor.
New product development is the best way to reap first mover advantage. Time has to be budgeted for new product development. While many traditional companies have their own R&D teams, there are fast moving IT giants who have outsourced innovation to smaller, less expensive, outside teams. They have vice-presidents of External Innovation. Whatever the strategy may be, time has to be allotted for New Product Development.
A lack of resources can result in extraordinary innovation
Toyota’s Kanban system of Just In Time management was the direct result of acute space shortage in Japan.
Holland with limited land and water resources became the foremost exporter of cut flowers, capturing a major share of the market. They grow flowers on rock wool and recycle all the water.
Tapping customer creativity is a tool to help negotiate new products with customers. It is the kind of process that reinvents the future. For instance, customers were not even aware of the possibility of a Walkman. Only an intense negotiation between top management, manufacturing and customers could have created it.
Proctor and Gamble has a Connect and Develop hub (C&D hub), which helps to harness the creativity of consumers, employees, trade partners and others.
Customer interaction can be induced by the following:
• Management by Walking Around (MBWA) is the most appropriate way to ensure that the customer’s voice is built into products and processes.
• Advisory committees of opinion leaders can be an effective method of keeping one’s finger on the pulse of public opinion.
Focus group interviews enable customers to explore ideas with skilled facilitators, trained to go below the surface of suggestions and complaints.
Investing in new technologies can happen rapidly by global scanning. It can provide instant innovation from an outside source. The only problem is that it is quite expensive. Often foreign technologies also come with strings attached: sometimes Indian corporations are not given key secret processes. In India, this has resulted in cheaper import substitutes, using easily available local resources. India, with its vast human resources, would do well to invest in developing innovation in its own backyard instead of buying it readymade. Innovating internally would also make India globally more competitive.
Innovation is more likely to occur in a melting pot of exotic diversity. Homogenous groups are less likely to spark off innovative ideas. Corporations that celebrate diversity and respect it are more likely to create a stable of innovators. Using an inexperienced outsider or a naïve resource can create major breakthroughs in traditional industries. In some cases, companies that network with competitors have benefited more in terms of innovation.
Productivity depends on performance feedback, as does innovation. 360-degree feedback provides young innovators the opportunity to give their bosses clear feedback on a less than conducive environment. A system to clearly map individual competencies and provide consistent, timely feedback, can result in providing appropriate training when required.
The immigrants of diverse races who moved to the USA, created a dynamic flow of new ideas and thus helped in forming a leading economy.
There is no doubt that each person in an organization has ideas. If there is one thing the quality movement has taught us, it is that it makes sense to listen to everyone, particularly the workman who does the work. People who feel that they are heard are more likely to solve problems. There is no incentive to think outside the box when no one listens or cares. Positive affirmation is the key to ensuring that people stretch to think innovatively. Participation is the reward we give to those who respect us.
Many management teams are involved in fire fighting and solving urgent matters that have developed into critical situations. Time needs to be set apart to study alternative solutions for the problems that lie under the surface of a running organization. ‘Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke,’ say the Americans, meaning, do not change something that is working well. This is disastrous advice in the present context of rapid change. Status quo is the gateway to overnight obsolescence. Innovation should be planned when things are going well. When things are going badly, when survival itself is an issue, no one has the time or energy to look for alternatives.
Ashok Leyland has a YES program to harvest new ideas from young executives.
Today it is a well-established fact that informed participants are better than spectators. Sharing knowledge and information have gone a long way in achieving better performance. Rewards, awards and performance-based incentives build morale. Many companies have introduced performance-based incentives as a key component of salaries for employees.
ICICI Bank rewards and registers patents.
Dr. Rekha Shetty is Managing Director of Farstar Distribution Network, a unique consultancy company devoted exclusively to innovation and creativity under the brand name Mindspower.She is an author, an entrepreneur and an original thinker. Her long term Innovation Initiative, using 47 thinking tools helps in a steep increase in profits, reduction in costs, while improving customer satisfaction levels and employee participation levels. She is a consultant to ICICI Bank, Ashok Leyland Ltd., Hyundai Motors Ltd., TVS Group, TI Group, Durgapur Steel Plant, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. and other blue chip companies.
In her very first assignment in United India Insurance, she developed a nationally acclaimed advertising campaign. During the last seventeen years, she has specialized in the field of Creativity in Management and developed her own management brand, Mindspower. She was one of Asia’s first women District Governors for Rotary International and was awarded Rotary’s highest Award – Service above Self.
Her fourth book “Innovate! 90 Days to Transform your Business” is under print and will be released by Penguin during May 2010.