Thursday, December 26, 2013


This is a simple mapping tool. PMI stands for P - PLUS M - MINUS I - INTERESTING PMI enables all individuals to study the three important aspects of the problem. School children in many countries use this to gain insights to all sides of a problem or mapping a situation. This a simple scanning tool to understand the geography of a problem.

Bug List Technique

Hendry Petroski - “Evolution of Useful Things” The bug list technique was developed to capitalize on this tendency of faulting things around us to lead to corrective action. Identify things that irritate or “bug” them. Consolidate a list. Vote and resolve the Bug.

Monday, December 23, 2013


Procedure for Use: Identify the issue you would like to innovate on. eg: “How to make customers your raving fans?” Ask each member of the group to record their feelings about movies. Experiential metaphor may include having the group to go for a movie. Apply these ideas to the problem using force-fit and record all ideas. Role-play of a movie can be used to extract ideas.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Experiential Attribute Matching

Experiencing an event is totally different from thinking about it. Adapt to the environment, live each moment fully and never be a spectator. For spectators get nothing out of life, participants get everything.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tent Thinking vs. Marble Place Thinking

A tent can be put up, shapes can change, it can expand or reduce and it can be put up elsewhere. Marble Place thinking involves fascination with permanence. Adaptability according to the situation.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


• Step 1 Hospitals are places for the sick. How to make sure more people use the hospital? • Observations : It is difficult to market illnesses because no one believes they will fall ill. They are protected by what insurance people call the immortality complex. • Step 2 • Turn it upside down Hospital is a place where people go when they are well. • Solution Start preventive health and perfect health programme to attract people who are well. • Benefits 1. The market segment increases to cover a vast population: There are lot more people who are well than those who are ill. 2. The relationship starts on a happy note. The basis for a life time relationship is achieved.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wishful Thinking Technique

Applied properly, this approach can free you from unnecessary but unrecognized assumptions that you are making about the scenario of concern.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Brainwriting Technique

The distinction in brainwriting is the generation of ideas individually and recording them on a piece of paper. Brainwriting ensures that all participants have equal opportunity to share their ideas. The other advantage comes from the rotation of ideas among participants with each person expanding and improving the idea. By the time the process is completed, everyone has ownership in the idea.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Force Field Analysis

The name comes from the technique’s ability to identify forces contributing to or hindering a solution to a problem and can stimulate creative thinking in three ways: 1) To define what you are working towards (vision). 2) To identify strengths you can maximize and 3) To identify weaknesses you can minimize

Monday, December 9, 2013

Crawford Blue Slip

This is one of the simplest, yet very effective, creativity generation techniques. It can be used to collect a large number of ideas in a short time. Because the ideas are recorded and shared without the name of the originator, people feel more comfortable about expressing ideas. There is less concern that their ideas will not be considered useful.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Every idea can be developed and grown by snowballing. Ideas are added to the original thought. The use of check-lists can be useful. Each idea can be developed by 4 or 5 groups and then put together for the main group.

Friday, December 6, 2013


PO is a tool perfected by Edward De Bono and is a word used to protect delicate new ideas from destruction. Create a sanctuary for a wild idea. PO1 : Intermediate Impossible: PO1 is used to protect an impossible idea from immediate destruction. The tool used here to protect the idea is intermediate impossible. PO2 : Similar to Attribute Matching: PO2 is very similar to attribute matching. They help us put together a dissimilar idea and expect solutions from different fields. PO3 : Generating Alternatives: PO3 is a tool to generate alternativeness. When a system is working well, as a matter of routine, PO3 should be used to encourage one to think of 10 alternative ways of doing it better. This is an important and interesting tool to prevent stagnation.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Free Fall

Free fall is like bungee jumping. You let go without knowing definitely what will happen. Creative ideas are a kind of free fall. You generate ideas that have never been suggested / heard before. You risk the contempt of your peers; their jeers and laughter.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Beauty And Its Power To Expand The Mind

• Look into the purple heart of an amethyst. Register the colour in your heart and illumine every part of yourself with that colour. Beauty has the power to open the secret doors of human personality. You become relaxed, alert, comforted and nurtured. • Your mind becomes fluid and flowing. All that is harsh and dissonant melts away. Thoughts bloom like flowers on a tender branch. Immersing yourself in the grand silences of nature can help you to start the process of becoming more interestingly ‘YOU,’ the you God created. The ‘YOU’ who can become self actualized and peaceful.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Experiential Metaphor

• Experiencing an event is totally different from thinking about it. • Access dreams, visions, floating thoughts and synthesise them into your plans. For example, the best way to understand a tree is to become a tree in a storm. • Adapt to the environment, live each moment fully; never be a spectator.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Boundary Examination Technique

The objective of this technique is to restructure assumptions (boundaries to our thinking) and provide new ways of looking at the problem. Another way of thinking about this situation is to try to suspend assumptions. Strengths of this technique: • Producing more provocative problem definitions. • Clarifying often indistinguishable problem boundaries. • Demonstrating the importance of formulating flexible problem definitions. • Coping with management teams that are overly precise in their problem definitions.

Turn Coat

• Play Devil's Advocate. As a discipline, think of the exact opposite of the view you have been holding. If you've been saying 'Yes' get the motivation for 'No'. • If you are an optimist, as a discipline work out the motivations of the pessimist. Most of us tend to see situations through the flawed windows of our own nature. We are optimistic or pessimistic and do not really participate with others in understanding all aspects and connotations of a problem.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Peaceful Setting Technique

The objective of the peaceful setting technique is to enable people to mentally remove themselves from present surroundings so that they have access to a less cluttered, more open mental process. The goal is to eliminate the constraints of the normal work environment that impede full use of their native creative ability.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Brainstorming Technique

Originated by Alex Osborn, brainstorming was designed to separate idea generation from idea evaluation. It has the objective of moving people into an atmosphere of freewheeling thought process, whereby ideas are stimulated through hearing others’ ideas. The emphasis is on quantity of ideas, using the philosophy that quantity produces quality

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Attribute Association Technique

Procedure for use: 1. State the problem and its objectives. 2. List all of the characteristics of a product, object, or idea related to the problem. 3. Systematically modify the characteristics or attributes to meet the objectives. Affirmation • The climate of the group is set by an affirmation. Eg: What I really like about you is …. • This makes people more open and creative.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

6M Positives and Negatives

The 6M is a template and a blueprint to think ideas through. It can be used with every tool and helps teams to separate the positive from the negative. Each of the six key elements of a business can be analysed, identifying the feelings of all stakeholders. For example, invite all employees to write on post-it slips what the pluses and the minuses in the company are as per the table given below 6M Positive (+) Negative (–) Men Materials Machines Methods Markets Money Do not be afraid to ask questions even if it makes you look ignorant—nobody is expected to know everything. John Adams wrote about the greatest “quantity” of human happiness. The special challenge will be to give people innovative thinking tools to create communities.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Innovation Bytes

The metamorphosis model of organizational development describes the organizational life cycle of companies which passes through cycles of growth and decline: Emergence – Growth –Decline – Death The first phase is often entrepreneurial and innovative with a sudden burst of energy capturing a new space in the market. This creative phase is terminated in a leadership crisis. It was Schumpeter who said, ‘It is rare for anyone always to remain an entrepreneur throughout the decades of his active life.’ This cycle then progresses from entrepreneurship to an organization that becomes slow and complacent. By focusing on innovation, you may rescue an organization in the declining phase of the organizational life cycle. Re-innovation or renovation becomes important when an old, traditional company goes into decline. It provides the inflection necessary to leap frog over the down hill phase. Every organization has to prepare for the abandonment of everything it does - Peter Drucker

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Innovation in Indian Management

Indian management is often conservative and insists that people work nine to five and stick to the knitting. Few companies have what IBM called ‘wild ducks.’ Conformity has been a central value of Indian life. All wild ducks are tamed to conform long before they reach the workplace. Innovation comes from people. Technology is only a tool that may enhance it. People and their invisible minds are key. Thinking tools are a mechanism to teach creativity. This requires exploding myths about obedience and stereotypes about ‘good’ managers who do not rock the boat by asking inconvenient questions. It also involves promoting, nurturing leadership styles. Just as the quality movement in Japan started in society and slowly built up into a tidal wave overwhelming industry, the innovation movement too needs to start with a change in social values. Innovation is a customer based and employee respecting philosophy that has benefited many modern organizations. It is also a tool that can shape organization culture into a happier, more humane, friendly place. An Innovation Star sustains and nurtures innovation spirals and the innovation process that is critical for success.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Consistent Innovation

Be sure that you have put in place a sustainable model for consistent Innovation. Once the returns from innovation start to pour in, the organization should focus on maximizing the returns through routine implementation. Harvesting is a mechanical and essential process. Use an Innovation Center to provide the foundation for a long-term initiative. Large, tradition bound, successful organizations, tend to prefer the stability that formalized procedures provide. Even though most companies accept the idea of innovation being important for success, most are not committed enough to practice it on a long-term basis. This book provides the underlying processes required to make it work on a sustainable consistent basis and demystifies the process for use across the organization. Management is bottom-line driven. Usually extremely result oriented in the short term and often losing faith in concepts very quickly. Innovation is a concept that requires a long-term buy-in and takes time to be fully ingrained in the organizational culture. Consistent, long-term commitment and long-term implementation is key to making the climate of innovation a way of life. The benefits of an innovation intervention in very early phases are intangible. Long term top management participation and commitment is key to success. A critical mass of participants in a company practicing Innovation Tools (IT) is essential to demonstrate financial and process quality impact. Innovation practices, besides leading to continuous improvement, also result in quantum shifts in the business, leading to unprecedented profits. But patience and the Bhagavad-Gita principle of ‘Do your work without expecting results,’ are required. Organizational variables like quality of work life, teamwork, tolerance for new and disruptive ideas and unimpeded communication are required to make innovation initiatives work. Deploying the time, budgets and people required to make these initiatives work, requires management buy-in. Innovation champions are critical to carry through long-term initiatives.

Innovation Mela

Innovation Melas celebrate the spirit of innovation. The most innovative new ideas are studied and applauded. In short it is a day to enjoy, inspire and celebrate corporate innovation and honour the imagination. It is a great way to provide a holistic view of events, while celebrating innovation publicly. Inviting a customer to provide his point of view could create a special wave of excitement. It is a banquet for the imagination: well loved, proven ideas rub shoulders with exotic new imports. Half completed projects call for volunteers. Implemented ideas are paraded and honoured. Case studies in the market are presented, competitions and quizzes stimulate participation. Problem owners call for consultants to tame their problem projects. Everyone rolls up their sleeves to tame wild ideas. Top management provides recognition rewards and support. The most interesting wild new idea, which does not, at the moment, seem implementable, is chosen for taming. This is a mega event which involves the whole company. It is a chance to showcase the best ideas, while reviewing and revisiting all the thinking tools. The innovation Oscars and the Innovation Hall of Fame can flow out of this event. Let your people look at this note and reflect on the ideas presented.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Course Correction

No innovative idea can be perfect when it is conceived. It has to be refined and perfected on the run. The only certainty in this endeavour is uncertainty. More than 80% of germinal, out of the box, ventures start off by following the wrong strategy. Like a kite adjusting to gusty winds, adjustments have to be made, based on customer feedback. Some companies spend so much time working on the ‘perfect’ product in their laboratories that all their funding runs out. Others find that the ‘perfect’ moment for the launch never comes. e-bay started with almost nothing. As Mag Whitman, CEO, e-bay put it: ‘Its better to put something out there, and see the reaction and fix it on the fly…….we are better off spending six days in the lab, putting it out there, getting feedback and then evolving it…….’ Ideas shaped in the market, in response to changing customer aspirations and fashions are very difficult to copy because of their dynamic changing character. The best time to do this is of course when everything is going really well. Organizational energy is high and innovation is like a kite we fly just because we are in high spirits and want to know if we can be even better than the best.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Innovation Secrets of Indian CEOs

Review of Innovation Secrets of Indian CEOs in Rotary News in November 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

Feedback Systems

Make sure that a log book is maintained by every innovation spiral. Weekly meeting minutes can ensure a smooth flow of information. Regular reports from each spiral ensure that the activities planned are moving smoothly. Monthly reviews can help in providing valuable feedback and opportunities for expanding participation. They also ensure top managements’ attention to projects. Formal feedback should be provided to problem owners, who bear the brunt of implementation in unfamiliar territory. Rewards should be an integral part of the system. Innovation should be part of the individual’s measurable job description, not just something he does if he feels like it. * Have a talk on innovation by a Company CEO who has practiced it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Complete the Action Matrix

Study your Action Matrix and let every team state its goals clearly and understand that goal. The Innovation Champion can put together the whole matrix filled by different teams and circulate it. The innovation process is an enjoyable process. The teams have had a chance to design an implementation action plan. It is probably a course of action, which has the fingerprints of all participants. This naturally ensures the buy-in of the team. The most important part of this process is that it integrates the viewpoints of all stakeholders and turns spectators into participants. This is about win-win solutions. It is about collaboration compromise and co-operation. It takes into account how people think and feel and acknowledges their need for affirmation and nurturing. The action matrix is the map to be followed in implementation.

Execute, communicate and train

Implement like an Innovation Star. This is the day to make a final presentation to all the teams in the presence of top management. Get feedback from all stakeholders and respond to concerns. It is a good idea to leave the plan to be studied by all participants. Each can peacefully reflect on it, internalize it. This is the time to get the resource budget cleared. All participants and stakeholders must now receive a clear communication on what to expect. Here it is important to note the process-- communication has to be long term, continuous and consistent. Human resources professionals and problem owners must ensure that the necessary training modules are implemented and their efficacy measured. Management systems implementation should now kick in. The management information system to ensure clear measurement of action should be available to all players. The website and other internet support systems should be properly administered by a webmaster to ensure the seamless flow of information where possible. A regularly produced e-bulletin would help. Knowledge, information and wisdom are important. ‘Know How’ is essential, but ‘do how’ is just as important. Teams by now have dived into the messy business of how to implement what they have chosen as solutions. They have created plans and strategies and worked co-operatively and negotiated the best route to take. Action now becomes the priority.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Review the outcome

During implementation review the outcome. Be aware of the end before you take the first step. Unify your teams by hitching them to the ultimate goal. Top management should inspire and empower the teams to action. A team bonding exercise getting everyone to see a bird’s eye view of the exercise is critical. Review the Resource for every team. Consolidate the reviews if the resources being used are adequate. Study the impact on the expected outcome. Ensure that the process is moving towards the final outcome: reducing costs, increasing revenues, improving customer satisfaction and ensuring greater employee participation.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Implement with action teams

The problem owners should review activities of the action team members and plan how to gradually involve all members of the unit in the plan. Each of the team members now have a chance to understand what the endeavour will involve. Informal sessions to discuss the plan and to become comfortable with it must be planned including a grand launch to win buy-in from stakeholders. Help each team member to be comfortable with their activities. Hand hold and enhance links between different departments. Studies show that turf protection prevents efficient implementation. Team members become too involved in playing politics instead of playing to win for the company. Organizational energy should be carefully focused on the task.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A winning model

Deccan Airlines created a disruption in the Airlines market. They created flights to smaller destinations not previously served like Vijayawada. The customer received low fares and at the same time lost: Free food and drinks Tolerance for more baggage Premium seats Convenient timing of flights The Winning Model was a result of: Fewer aircrafts, faster turnaround times, arriving early mornings and late nights when airports were less utilized by the premium airlines. It became profitable for the airlines and cheaper for the customers

Thursday, October 31, 2013

1. Action plan to create Innovative culture

* Look at several alternatives, a hundred futures, before deciding on the best one for the moment. Remember the market place will be the best place for complete refinement of your product. * Start small. Keep over heads low. Be lean and learn. Don’t spend money on swanky offices, first- class travel, hotels and the Mercedes Benz. * Pursue areas with high entry level barriers, which competitors avoid like the plague. Test market in a small way. Experience the results; look into the customer’s eyes. Don’t just keep talking and making presentations. Review, tweak and go back to the market. Course correct, move. Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. There is no guarantee of success. * Nothing is an instant success. Every successful product is the result of a hundred corrections in response to customer reactions, changing aspirations. There is no time, when you can rest on your laurels because you are so perfect. * Let your solutions be bold, what no one has done before. Don’t take shelter in incrementalism.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nurture the culture of Innovation

Companywide innovation is not about nurturing solitary genius in sterile laboratories but requires the bubbling enthusiasm of innovation spirals. The Innovation champion and all problem owners must consistently ensure the use of the tools and track the Innovation spiral meetings. To internalize innovation tools, use them. Teach them to others. The new IT is Innovation Tools. Install them in every members mind’s computer. Present the tools with examples. Encourage questions. Teach the tools to your friends and your family. This is the best way to make it a part of your everyday life. While the process is now in place, providing daily stimulus is the problem owner’s job. This can be done by asking the team a provocative question everyday. The questions could be • What are the non-value adding activities in your daily work? • How can we help to eliminate this? • How can we do this faster? • How to improve the productivity of this team?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Slimmer than the best – the competitive edge

‘It cannot be done!’ said the Swiss watch makers. In the watch industry, the Swiss are the ultimate court of appeal. The way the Titan Edge, the world’s slimmest water resistant watch was produced, is a lesson in persistent and patient problem solving and innovation. It was an example of an Indian company’s refusal to give up. It all began in 1994. Mr. Xerxes Desai, then Managing director of Titan said, ‘Create a 3.5mm, water resistant watch – a watch as slim as a credit card. It took the Titan team four years and when they started in 1994 they were just a decade old… What were the challenges? To instill self confidence in the team. Ensure buy-in from key people. The engineering challenge. When everyone heard that the Swiss could not-do it, the virus of self doubt was rampant. This was overcome by the infectious confidence of top management. Watch manufacturers in the past had been copy-cats. Since the 1950’s Indian companies had never manufactured a watch all by themselves. Titan attempted this from 1992. The Edge was an answer to the reigning lifestyle mantra, verbalized by a famous Hollywood queen who said ‘You cannot be too rich or too thin!’ It was a close collaboration between manufacturing, technology and research. Marketing took three years to embrace it. Between movements, cases and assembly, the challenge was to create a delicate watch, which was tough enough for the challenges of daily wear. They needed a slimmer battery with a longer battery life and less power consumption. The war had to be carried to the supplier’s tables and this meant a global search. The solution was a silicon chip which was developed to extend the battery life. Part of the manufacturing was out-sourced to Switzerland. All the tools required for the assembly were supplied by Titan! Even the glass had to be of .03mm thickness or as thick as three sheets of paper – a 75% reduction in thickness. It is one of India’s major product innovation, putting us on the world map!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Switch on the analytical mind

An ounce of action is worth tonnes of e-mail, paper and speeches. Implementation is the key to innovation.The ‘reality test’ should now be ruthlessly applied. Once implementation starts, every move costs money. This is the last step in the innovation process and all ideas should be carefully studied. Implementing creative ideas and turning them into innovations is a special challenge. It is a process that requires a clear road map and the organizational will to stick to the path. This is where many organizations fail. Every team should have its own time bound plan, which is understood by the whole group.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Innovation Bytes

Product innovation is not the most important type of innovation, though it is considered the most common type of innovation in Indian companies. Marketing innovation can affect the brand image of the whole product category. Coffee Day and Barista cafés have redefined the coffee break. ‘So much can happen over coffee’ says one of the advertisements. The success of these cafés has been good for coffee distributors all over India and has given coffee a new brand image. Time-sharing of holiday cottages created a whole new market for affordable holidays. Tractor companies are trying the same concept, where a group of farmers own a tractor together.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Choosing the correct solution

The team can spend adequate time choosing the correct solution. Here, all ideas are ruthlessly critiqued. Logic is mercilessly applied. After this process, the idea is going to leave the safe, sterile laboratory of the mind and start acting in the company. Every action will need an investment of resources of all kinds. This is the time to go into detail. Weed out unworkable ideas; make sure what the company can do. Now the dream castles need to have strong foundations under them. Outcomes should be carefully studied. This is the time for a clear understanding of the cost benefit analysis by all. There is still time to course correct. Make sure that top management publicly lends support to every aspect of resource allocation and rewards participants on achieving innovation targets.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Define goals and impact

Revisit your goals and reconsider the impact of each solution the goals on the company. In view of the thinking process and ideas generated, it may be necessary to reconsider and restate the goals. Impact of the ideas can be measured against the 6M framework. Or it could be measured merely against the bottom line. Critical to the goals are the 6M resources required to implement the idea. Identify the key parameters by which the outcomes will be measured. These parameters may be then prioritized. Ensure that all the ideas generated are displayed, presented and reflected upon. Put posters with all ideas around your Innovation Centre. Members of all teams can be invited to study them and add their suggestions. This is the time for debate and discussions.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Innovation Secrets of Indian CEOs

Parameter of Importance

Different parameters find different levels of priority depending on the situation at hand. Let us consider the example of the budget as a parameter and its priority level in different cases. For a company where liquidity is low, cash flow would be the most important concern. For a company facing a crisis, time may be of the essence and big budgets would be tolerated in view of the emergency situation. • While identifying solutions, ensure that there are a wide variety of options to choose from. There is then a greater possibility that the final option chosen ensures optimal results. This systematic process ensures that the option chosen produces the best results. • Analysis is the stage just prior to implementation. Therefore, detailed analysis forms the root to strong implementation.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Analysis : the gateway to solutions

In the creative thinking process, incubation is followed by ‘Analysis.’ During the process of analysis, apply left-brain thinking – logical, statistical and mathematical. Solutions have to be carefully discussed and the optimum one chosen. The solutions are analyzed against the parameters chosen by the problem owner. Some prevalent parameters are: • Time • Budget • Convenience • Human resources • Goodwill and impact on staff motivation levels • Aesthetics • Saving lives • Political capital


Picasso is said to have seen the handlebars of a bicycle and created the thoroughly modern ‘Bull’ from the handlebars. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s fantastic, vivid poem, Kubla Khan, was written after a fevered dream. Whether it is Archimedes discovering the laws of displacement and screaming his `Eureka’ moment through the streets of Syracuse or Madam Curie discovering the iridescent gleam of radium in her cluttered garret laboratory, the moment seems to be a flash of inspiration. The idea of evolution floated into Darwin’s mind as he read the essay on the Malthusian nightmare of overpopulation and overcrowding. But luck of course favours the prepared mind. Of course Newton and his apple or any of the others would never have reached that moment of seeming serendipity, if they had not preceded it by long hours of toil. A total obsession and long years of preparation and effort seem to stand silently behind that limelight moment of sheer magical discovery.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Incubation: Process and Benefits

 During idea generation, a list of alternative solutions are generated, seeds are sown.  During incubation the seeds are allowed to sprout, to grow unobstructed.  During analysis the plants are pruned and weeds are removed, till only the usable alternatives remain.  Implementation involves choosing the final solution, planning, developing a detailed roadmap, communicating it to the teams and finally acting on the blueprint.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Total Immersion in ideas

Following total immersion in the ideas collected, the past, present and future possibilities come next. This is time for quiet reflection, allowing the mind to absorb all that has happened. Incubation is the period when the ideas are handed over to the vast computer which is the sub-conscious. It is a secret computer into which everything one has ever thought or felt or experienced or smelt or touched, flows. Many inventions are the result of a flash of inspiration, happening during incubation. Whether it was Newton or James Watts inventing his steam engine, while watching the steam puffing out of a teapot on the stove, the moment of illumination happened during a silent gap in the storm of thoughts. Incubation is critical. Spend years working and thinking. Then switch off and let go. Hand over the problem to the subconscious, so that the universe may step in. A total change of scene can aid incubation. A participant once recalled how after months of searching a moped launch, the team went to a movie about high fashion in Paris. He experienced an Aha! moment right there. The moped had so far been sold as a poor man’s scooter: in dingy dealer outlets. Presented in a lovely, stylish ambience, the whole brand was changed to express a style statement with romantic overtones. The moped suddenly became a fashion accessory. The best ideas are stimulated during incubation.


After idea generation, the next step in the thinking process is incubation. An incubator is a machine or an environment which helps nacent organisms to grow and develop in a protected environment. Delicate seeds are germinated and incubated in a farm house. Ideas are helped to grow during incubation. A premature baby is provided a womb like atmosphere in a hospital incubator. Incubation is what a mother hen does with own egg. She sits on it and provides a warm supportive climate and allows nature to take its own course. It is the calm before the storm of analysis and action. It is interesting to note how one shifts gear between the left and right brain during the process of innovation. When involved in problem statement one uses the logical left brain. There is a dramatic shift to the right brain during idea generation. During incubation you need to let go and allow both sides to operate naturally without any effort. Rather like a kite being carried by the wind, the string in the hands of a dreamer. The capacity to shift gears smoothly between the left and right brain is required. The image of the creative, impractical dreamer is only a myth. The innovative thinker is a man of action, both sides of the brain, synchronized into one whole. Again, during analysis, one switches on the keen left brain, processing all the ideas through logic, statistics and number crunching. What is clear is that an innovator has to be equally facile in using both sides of the brain. The left brain which is logical, mathematical and statistical and the right brain which is poetic, holistic and creative, are both required during the process of innovation.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Think before you leap

Identify and forecast the various consequences of an action. You could identify the impact of building a holiday resort in a forest. This could be Improving the bottom line of the company Damaging the environment Harming the health of the employees The impact could also be studied in various time periods: the next month, 6 months, 1 year and 5 years. Sometimes the immediate impact on the company, may be great, resulting in short term profits. However, the long term impact could be disastrous, creating many dissatisfied customers.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Celebrate the Beauty

Create opportunities for team mates to enjoy each other’s company in a great natural setting. Many companies have lovely campuses or parks nearby, which people hardly notice in their rush to meet deadlines - so schedule moonlight pot luck dinners. Families could be invited. This is a very useful, feel-good emotion. Welcome wonder into your life. Celebrate the beauty of the stars, and enjoy the wonder of the mountains along with team members. Greet the dawn and say goodbye to the sunset. The moonlight has been created to heal your wounds. Sleep on the lap of Mother Nature and become a child again. Go on excursions with your team.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Change the way of Thinking

Not all innovations can grow out of even the best existing systems. When you try to grow a revolutionary new idea, within a system, stock holders and vested interests move in to close ranks to protect their own power bases. A Star Trek Enterprise expedition is a good analogy to develop this disruptive innovation. Imagine that the old company, planet earth is about to disintegrate. You put your best warriors and key elements of your culture into a ship which takes off into space to put down roots on a ‘safe planet’. When an existing company is in the declining phase of its product life cycle, sustaining innovation may cut losses, but a fresh new area may be the key to sustained profits. The discovery of Christopher Columbus was the result of such an expedition, far away from the home base. A new company speeding in as a garage start up, could be in the right place to replace the ailing white elephant. So when the company is doing well, why not set up a few garage start-ups, starships, a few gambles and experiments? These should be small and multiple. They should have support from the top, perhaps a direct reporting relationship with the CEO.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Change is the only thing that is Permanent

This is the first of the Laws of Innovation: Everything changes - people, products, companies; Men, Materials, Machines, Methods, Markets and Money (6M). The decision to change is in your hands but there are challenges to growth. Innovation is about transformation. Imagine a block of ice. It is cold, solid, and transparent. But it is not a block of ice forever. It melts and flows across boundaries. Water follows its own logic which is very different from the logic of ice. Water goes to many places, has many adventures, but always comes back to its own nature – cool, beautiful and still. If you heat it, it boils; keep heating, it gets airborne by becoming steam, steam that knows the freedom of the skies, steam that cannot be held captive. Add pressure and it can rotate turbines to generate power. Transformation is what happens to a drop of water when it is touched by the magic of sunlight. It becomes a rainbow. It is what happens to a seed when it starts the journey to become a mighty banyan tree. The banyan tree is not an improved seed, just as a butterfly is not an improved caterpillar or a rainbow an improved drop of water. By definition, innovation is taking interesting ideas and transforming them into usable solutions for solving business problems.

Be a Warrior

Turning ordinary men into matchless warriors full of the enthusiasm to win, can definitely improve performance. Gandhiji did just that using his magic mantras to infuse courage into the freedom struggle : Do or Die, Quit India, Vande Matharam. Among the nava rasas, chivalry is key to the life of a warrior: a corporate warrior is no different and needs real courage. Wonder is developed from courage. The rapture of courage is produced by means of energy, perseverance, optimism, presence of mind and kindness. Courage and bravery are definitely feel-good emotions. Courage is represented on the stage by firmness, patience, heroism, pride, zeal, valor and wit. Bravery fills you with enthusiasm, energy and spontaneity. Bravery is not just bravery in war. It is the small, everyday acts of courage that each of us is called upon to manifest in the face of obstacles. The ability to sacrifice, which is the core of emotional intelligence, is a part of the Veera Rasa. The ability to persist in the face of difficulties is a part of this. To meet the jealousy and pettiness of the world with gentleness, humor and fearlessness, is part of it. Brilliance and elegance belong to the true warrior who aligns himself with the powerful forces of goodness. ‘Josh,’ wakefulness, energy and boundless enthusiasm are an expression of this energy.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Using Checklists to Develop Ideas

Checklists help to generate ideas in a systematic way. Once a problem is identified, teams can use checklists to explore all areas and issues that are associated with the problem. They help the team think and are often in the form of questions. Many of the mapping tools, like 6 M, are just like check-lists encouraging you to be systematic in your approach. The simplest tools include checklists like Kipling’s famous ‘5 good serving men’ - the questions which, why, where, when, how and who. Thinkers from Plato onwards have developed hundreds of thinking tools which are as easy to learn as the three Rs (reading, writing, arithmetic).

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sanctuary 3

Sanctuary 3 is a tool to generate alternativeness. When a system is working well, as a matter of routine this can be used to encourage you to think of alternative ways of doing it better. This is an important and interesting tool to prevent stagnation. Imagine a Company caught by high cost during a downturn. Now develop five ways to reduce costs. For example: 1. Ask people to work for three days a week. 2. Encourage people to take an unpaid subbatical. 3. Encourage working from home or telecommunicating. 4. Get customers to sell to other customers for a small fee. 5. Get vendors to deliver materials and parts on the assembly line.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sanctuary 2

Sanctuary 2 is very similar to attribute matching by putting together dissimilar ideas and expert solutions from different fields. Example: Look at the attributes of say a motor car to get some fresh ideas on education. This allows for a whole group of new creative ideas. The attributes of a motor car and how it could apply to education are: • It moves – The Syllabus could move with changing times (say every 5 years) • It should be regularly filled with petrol – Teachers could receive regular training inputs every year at a retreat. • Different energy sources are now available i.e. petrol and electricity – Arrange for regular inputs from alternative sources, maybe ideas from people in government or agriculture, or nuclear physics. • It can carry people – Parents alumni and public could be involved in an advisory capacity. • Enclosed space -- Put different types of people together in close proximity and enable them to share ideas in a time bubble away from others. • It provides a good view of the country - Teachers and Parents must have a good view of the latest techniques in other countries. Eg. Tie-up with a school from UK. • It has four wheels – Inputs could be regularly collected and activities should be planned for the 4 stake holders : parents, teachers, old students and existing students.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sanctuary 1

Sanctuary 1 is used to protect an impossible idea from immediate destruction. The plan is to protect the idea. For example: Problem: Parking on a busy road is a problem due to overcrowding and lack of adequate parking space. Wild Idea: Drivers with license plates ending with odd and even numbers should be encouraged to drive only on alternate days. This can lead to the idea that each car would receive special facilities only on certain days of the week. This would encourage pooling and a shift of leisure time activities to times when the congestion is less. By placing a fence around an idea and allowing it to develop without immediate attack, even though it might seem an impossible solution at first, it allows everyone to think around the subject and discover ways to make it work.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Create a Sanctuary for ideas

Once a new product idea germinates, it needs time and space for participants to grow and develop that idea. The immediate reaction is to remove all elements that make the product new and different. Most groups will rush to protect familiar aspects of the product. If it is wild idea, there will be a concerted rush to domesticate it and retain its age old and familiar attributes. Fiercely protect the wildness of the idea by enclosing it in a sanctuary. Allow it to roam free in the sanctuary for a few days. Don’t touch it. Remember if everyone loves an idea, it is probably an old one. The Sanctuary is a tool that can be used to protect all germinal ideas. It involves inventing or shaping the future together in a protected environment. It is a radical new approach.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Working with Wild Ideas

A germinal idea requires the sanctuary of a mindspace that is totally nurturing. It requires a space to grow so that its wildness is not nipped in the bud. Who knows what weed will become the coffee bush? Develop sanctuaries for wild ideas. Let the wilderness flourish in a totally non-threatening atmosphere. Let the ideas grow high and tall. Leave all pruning for later. New ideas need to play freely, like crawling, naked babies with no discipline. Suspend judgment, postpone reaction, extend effort. Hindustan Lever has its innovation centers. Cognizant has budgets for its mavericks and no stop signs within those budget allocations. Ask all participants to make an impossible wish – zero cost, zero rejections or doubling productivity. Then proceed to tame them bit by bit by using the innovation tools already learnt, like 6M. This process can be extended as you learn all the tools. So, go ahead and spend time setting impossible goals and developing wild ideas.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Idea generation

‘For every problem there is a solution that is simple, attractive... and wrong’. Beware of obvious solutions!’ Arthur Clarke It is worth remembering here, that the rules for thinking are totally different from the rules for doing. You can set up a 100 million dollar factory in your mind, study the mathematical implications and destroy it without losing a single dollar. However, as soon as the first brick is physically laid, or the first employee hired, you start losing money. Do not analyze your thoughts during idea generation. Remove all boundaries. Apply analysis only in the fourth stage of the creative thinking process. It is ideal to train trainers in the thinking tools and then encourage them to deliver training to the teams.

Product Development – in the marketplace

When you take the germinal product into a protected test market observe the way it is used by the customer. Try different versions of it, if possible. For example, Godrej are carrying out hands on experiments with customers in different retail formats whilst developing furniture that customers can accept as easily as the furniture made by the local carpenter. Use the following map to recreate your product. This map can help you identify key elements in product development. Use existing facilities to refine products in the market place. Once a new product idea germinates, it needs time and space to grow and develop that idea. Insist that unfamiliar, strange, unusual elements are developed. Support the Champion, tone down the attackers. Work on taking it to market fast on a small investment with the possibility of a profit. Don’t try to create the perfect product in the lab. The immediate reaction is often to remove all elements that make a product new and different. Most groups will rush to protect familiar aspects of the product and if it is wild idea there will be a concerted rush to domesticate it and retain its old and familiar attributes. Fiercely protect the wildness of the idea by enclosing it in a sanctuary. Allow it to roam free in the sanctuary for a few days. Don’t touch it. Remember if everyone loves an idea, it is probably 200 years old!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Test Product Specifications in the Competitive Marketplace

Let your teams use this map to help create an experiment in the market place. Carefully calibrate the product creating a careful balance between what the customer wants and what the competitive market will bear. On a new product, make small investments. Change and react to what happens in the market place. Like a potter uses his hands to shape wet clay, refine your product as it makes its way tentatively through the market place. Remember, a kite can only be tested when it flies. Don’t keep your product too long in the laboratory, launch it, test it and improve it as you go along. Be hungry for early profits. Let the product evolve to achieve customer delight. Reflections and actions  Workout a new source of revenue fro ma just introduced activity. See how you can turn a cost centre into a profit centre.  Put your clothes cupboard at home in order.  Buy a healthful powder to add to milk for a quick to burst of energy

Friday, September 13, 2013

Service is the differentiator

Whilst the product or service may be quite similar it is possible to differentiate your product by offering a unique service. Airlines may be the same, but Kingfisher Airlines differentiates itself with the way helpers take care of your luggage -- the way the passenger is treated as a ‘guest’. Hospitals may be the same, but ‘Our working is an offering to God’ motto at the Satya Sai Hospital in Whitefield Bangalore differentiates it from more commercial institutions. Use this diagram to revisit existing product service packages and explore how you can further differentiate your product or service. Action: Explore services that can make your product unique.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Relationships – Revisit, Review, Relate

Building relationships, with suppliers, customers, press and other stake holders, is key to the success of your innovation initiative. They cannot be built overnight, only when we need help. Relationships have to be a carefully nurtured 365 days a year exercise. The web of relationships creates the networking required for success in problem solving. Great relationships with your stake holders make the process of achieving ‘stretch’ goals interesting and exciting. So make this day for the 3 Rs - Revisit, Review, and Relate. Revisit the mission statement of your company and review the progress of the projects with special reference to building and enhancing relationships : • Within the commando teams • Between Innovation spirals • Between the steering committee and the spirals Make sure that there is no turf protection.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Know the customer: Face to Face

Knowing the customer is a long term process. Keeping your finger on the pulse of customer trends can ensure consistent profits. Here are some of the systems that could help build and understand lifetime relationships with the customer. Encourage the teams to go out and meet customers. Let them get a hands on experience of how customers really think. Let them organize in-house interviews and focus groups with customers. Interviews and focus groups can give a lot of information. They can help customer’s participate in reinventing processes and products. Management by walking about (MBWA) is the hands on way to find out what the customer feels day to day. Research and surveys give you information. But customer aspirations and fashions change. Those who are not in close touch with their customers may be too late to react to new trends. Barrack Obama became President of the United States by contacting 5 million people on the internet. He collected far more funding than powerful old timers like Senator Mc Cain and Hillary Clinton. Raw data needs to be interpreted in terms of customer needs. The way McDonald’s responded to change in the attitude to health and concerns about obesity by providing low fat and salad meals shows a proactive attitude to change in customer needs and tastes. This naturally leads to protecting profits. The concern for the environment is another issue where the auto industry has to take customer focused decisions. During an economic down turn does a big gas guzzling car become almost vulgar? Are people ready for electric cars? Is the Rs. 1 lakh Tata Nano poised to grab world markets? Study the needs hierarchy. Is it true that on the brink of the economic precipice, people are more concerned about surviving, than about impressing the neighbours? There is a whole new economics of recession. Study the emerging trends and get advice from experts. Reflect on your findings. Study broad demographic changes and question where a global major should invest? In India with its largest number of young people or China with its aging population? How should Indian companies change their strategies to deal with the explosive youth power? Will inexpensive luxuries become more popular?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Focus on markets ignored by others

‘Empowering people is the most effective way to create profitable companies’ says Mr. Thyagarajan, legendary founder of the Shriram Group of Companies in Chennai. He brought workers into management, spent a lot of face time with them. ‘They made it happen,’ he says. His methods are simple.  Cut out all non value added activities  Engage each one of the workers, including the contract labour, by uniting them for a common cause. ‘How can you solve the problem with the same tools that caused them?’ He brought in a good CEO and made him accountable. The strategy worked and profits began to flow in. ‘I always found people who could do things. Then I empowered them and left them alone!’ Shriram Chit Funds was started in 1974 with 4 chit fund companies focusing on truck operators. Now, its volume of business is Rs.27,000 crores. They have 1,000 offices dealing with all areas of finance. Mr Thyagarajan proudly states ‘We have an emotional bond with 20 lakh customers over the years.’ When asked why he started with 4 companies at a time when Small Business Units (SBUs) were not popular, he explains, ’Each area had a CEO who had total freedom. Growth was faster, because each CEO felt more energized. We, south Indians are suspicious of anyone who grows too fast. This strategy also kept the company out of envy’s radar. I was able to call forth a “Start-up” attitude. Once I was sure of the leadership, I maintained an attitude of tolerance towards mistakes’. The SBUs worked very well and grew quickly.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Keep in touch with Customers

Customer creativity enables the company to 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. Customer interaction can be induced by the following: • Management by Walking About (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 to enable customers to explore ideas with skilled facilitators, trained to go below the surface of suggestions and complaints.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Innovation mind bytes

 Be willing to test ideas in the market and correct them in the market place. Don’t wait for perfection on the drawing board. An idea is like a kite. Fly it, to test it in the wind.  Keep a low key. As the Zen thinkers say, be like an underground stream, not like a rocky mountain face. Competitors are alerted and more likely to attack a mountain.  Co-operate instead of confronting.  Keep initial budgets small.  Reach out for low hanging fruits. Be hungry for results.  Be impatient for profits.  Learn in the ruthless university of the marketplace.  Reach for the untouched and the unreached. As first mover, make full use of your advantage.  Be patient with teething problems. De-bug as you go along.  Good is the enemy of Better.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Understand the Environment of Creativity

The value system of a company can provide the environment for creativity. People can do their best if their work is: ‘Good for the country, employees, customers.’ Or as the Honda mission statement puts it ‘Joy to the employee, joy to the customer and joy to the country’. The typical corporate atmosphere is competitive and ruthless. People rush to satisfy their selfish desires for glory and the limelight. Anyone standing in the way is viewed with anger and hatred. In such an environment, the individual uses 50% of energy protecting his ego and his turf. So much energy is wasted on one-upmanship and putting others down. The ability of the group to function is therefore severely compromised. How much better to work in the nurturing environment? Here a person does not feel the separation between himself and others. He wants others to do as well as himself. He competes only with himself in the search for excellence. He acknowledges the champion in everybody. The person does not develop a single-minded infatuation with his own ideas but accepts the reality that others also can have great ideas. It is important to understand that we can have a win-win environment. In such an environment everyone will be willing to take risks and go through the process of failures. He knows that in an experiment, there are no failures - only feedback.

Transform spectators into participants

Companies begin to fade when a majority of their people become spectators with a 'chalta hai' or 'let it be' attitude. When a company is a start-up, everyone is an enthusiastic participant. As the company begins to age, its life cycle makes it slow, ponderous and bureaucratic. How to break this cycle? Simple: Open the floodgates of people's minds. Involve everybody. The best ideas come from the grassroots from people who are actually doing the work. Often it is said that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. This is because only 20% of the people are treated as the 'Core' group, the rest are treated as peripheral. The select 'insiders' create a barrier against the participation of the outsiders. If everyone's work can become critical to the company, no one will be a spectator, everyone will be a committed participant.

Set and Share Your Goals

Work life is so pervasive that often all other aspects of the individual whither away. A key challenge, when companies are tracking stretch goals is maintaining work life balance. Top management would also benefit from attending this presentation. Let each person set their personal goals for the year and share it with a buddy who will work with them for the next 90 days. Let them become familiar with the 4 quadrants of their lives. Here are some key suggestions. 1. Can Saturday be a day when child friendly facilities are provided? A facilitator creates a Kid power day at ICICI. 2. How can families be involved to support organizational goals? 3. Can social life be improved by corporate social responsibility activities? Try getting everyone to participate in a tree planting day. 4. Can the team be taught Yoga and Meditation? 5. Is a corporate gym or membership to one, like yearlong matches (cricket or Kho Kho) be a possibility. 6. Can a counsellor be on call or can volunteer staff members be trained as counsellors? 7. How can the company enable individual talents to flower. How about a monthly ‘Talent Evening’?

Empowerment is the result of wholehearted participation

If the teams learn the secret of positive fields or mind space, they can improve their your Happiness Quotient. They can also get the best out of others. Making members of your team wholehearted participants rather than indifferent spectators, is the key to organizational success. Whole heartedness is a state of full presence. This state involves complete enjoyment of a task. Participation, with full commitment of body and mind, is irresistible. I become wholehearted when I give all of myself to an interaction or task. These interactions create a field, which allows me to be present in the moment, without defensiveness. The most fundamental characteristics of a positive field are, that it quells anxiety and produces feelings of acceptance and a feeling of being affirmed. It is like walking into a room full of people who love and accept you, unconditionally. It is a feeling of being meaningful and safe – this frees up energy for connecting. An important constituent of the positive field, according to George Prince of Synectics, is affirmations. An affirmation is a verbal, tonal or non-verbal act of appreciation. A compliment can be a verbal hug. A verbal hug can replace a thousand words. The field is most affected by positive, soul level motives or ’Sankalpa’. If the gut level motives are positive, the mere lack of skill in verbal, tonal and non-verbal transmissions can be overcome.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Building Co-operation within the company

Encourage top management to observe signs of conflict and co-operation. You can understand whether a company is doing well by :  The look in the people’s eyes.  The way they walk  The quality of the interaction.  You can see the effect of the positive field by how people help each other and share information. Constraint, Control and Compliance, reduces the positive field. Top down – constraints – cuts out the joy Bosses should exist to help people win. Explore co-operation within the organization. Identify conflicts and ask for suggestions to defuse them. Walk around the departments to identify potential problem areas. Encourage small group discussion and bonding.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Avoiding Negativity

The change management module provides an opportunity to share information of ways to avoid the negative field. Some of our careless phrases destroy ideas, unconsciously. Remove the negative emotions like anger, fear and revulsion from the team, like thorns from your foot.  Rewarding team creativity enhances teamwork  Share interesting articles.  Appreciate and award good performance even in bad times – this will keep employee morale high  Make every meal an enjoyable experience: improve the place, make it clear colourful and musical. Set dishes out attractively and chew slowly to appreciate the full flavour of the foods you eat.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Design communications

Ensure that all stake holders start with the same assumptions about what is required. Often each member of the team has limited knowledge about the product, thus reducing his chances of achieving success. They are like the six blind men and the elephant. Each touched a different part of the elephant and mentally imagined the elephant like a fan, a pillar and a large pipe. Some thinking tools like 6M help all stake holders to have a unified vision of the product. Communication needs to be clear and consistent. The mode of communication should be relevant to the participants. There is no point using e-mail, if when most have no access to the internet. The communication should create excitement. The Innovation Initiative for young executives in Ashok Leyland was kicked off with a contest. The prize an I-Pod. The communication should encourage response. Communication about problems can be through Ideation Corners, where participants are encouraged to write their solutions. Usable solutions should be shared and rolled out across the organization.


Tapping stakeholder creativity (TSC) involves facilitating intense discussion and problem solving between stake holders to reinvent future products and processes. It is a radical new approach which enables companies to include the customers’ or vendors’ voice in developing a product, activity or service and encourages the TSC a tool that involves inventing or shaping the future together with customers. and is a radical new approach. As this is an unique innovation tool that helps synthesize the ideas of two or more groups with different viewpoints. It enables different teams of the company to participate with internal or external customers in creatively developing the future. TCC enables us to include the customer's voice in developing a product activity or service. This would be ensured by training all participants in creative problem solving , a process which will help achieve continuous improvement as well as quantum change on occasions. Vendors can rewrite the profit picture of a company by practicing Just In Time Management, quality improvement programmes and innovation initiatives.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Communication – speaking for easy listening

We are accustomed to giving our opinions and ideas in an environment where, frequently, every word is greeted with criticism. Such an environment is unfortunately the norm for many business meetings. Typically we begin by preparing the ground for the idea or point of view we are about to express. Having established an expectant audience you than slip in the idea or opinion and then move quickly to sell it as hard as possible, before anyone can jump in and attack it. This process for speaking is both time consuming, because of the potential for a high waffle content, and additionally can result in the idea or opinion being lost because your audience have given up listening to you.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Communication – listening for ideas

While listening to someone who speak, the mind is constantly being stimulated or triggered into thoughts of its own. These thoughts are sometimes directly related to what is being said and often apparently unrelated. Once the mind has been stimulated we tend to give attention to what is going on in the ‘“meeting in the your mind’” (often more interesting than the public one) and ‘“drop out’” of listening to the speaker. Often we will actually be “rehearsing” a response to something the speaker has said, only half listening to the speaker whilst, waiting for an opportunity to make our comment. The mind is a vast library of information, past experiences and connections, most of which are outside our conscious memory. Thoughts which are stimulated or triggered in the mind when we are listening to someone speak are actually trying to tell us something. We are taught from an early age that we must always concentrate and not allow our minds to wander. This is the correct way to listen in certain situations. For example if I am listening to directions to get somewhere, I need to listen intently to understand and capture what is being said.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Meetings can waste a lot of time or they can provide an effective way to harvest ideas and ensure buy-in thus empowering the group to achieve greater levels of productivity. Meetings can be an empowering experience if handled well. The effectiveness of a meeting can be enhanced by 1) Having a clear goal for the meeting 2) Circulating the agenda in advance to ensure preparation 3) Having a system to make sure everyone is heard using thinking tools like 6M 4) Recording and implementing decisions and using good ideas 5) Being open to feedback and fresh ideas

Identify Top Management Support

It is critical that the innovation initiative is completely supported at the top step by step. Successful innovation requires enormous patience, resources and faith. It is tough without top management support. One of the reasons why innovation initiatives fail, is because of the start-stop effect when there is no long term commitment from the top. Innovation initiatives often become the target of budget cuts at the first sign of trouble.  Score boards should measure progress and celebrate winners.  Involve top management through regular presentations.  They should be part of the steering committee and monthly reviews.  The innovation melas should showcase innovation and innovators.  The cost benefit resulting from innovations should be regularly highlighted.  Thinking tools should be used at the highest levels. It is important to initially choose actions that lead to fast, obvious results. Keep the investments low, use existing resources. Highlight and celebrate small successes. This creates excitement around the Initiative. Honour achievers. Encourage the workforce through motivating posters. Post results on scoreboards so that the whole organization can track progress.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The ICE Breaker

It is important to bring all the teams together and unite them towards a single goal. The goal should be noble; it should be inspiring and should fill the teams with energy and commitment. The leader could kick things off with an inspiring presentation and ask everyone to give their ideas on how to make this happen.  An open office atmosphere ensures greater productivity.  Start a Humor Club, share a joke on the internet.  Have a hobby or pastime which will keep you going in tough times  Use salt in moderation

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Change Management

Change is as uncomfortable as the pain of unbroken new shoes. If you are serious about the initiative, involve the top management to mentor, to trouble shoot, to remove obstacles. Involve them in planning the Initiative. Ensure that they are part of the monthly rewards event. Their presence in monthly meetings either in person or on videos, will ensure greater engagement and involvement from the team. Preliminary Steps to ensure a successful innovation initiative  All problem owners make a final presentation of the problem statements and outcomes expected.  Encourage suggestions and debate.  Have clear systems for measurement of results and feedback.  Discuss the possible obstacles in the path of radical change.  Involve top management in the presentation.  Provide open channels of communication : a website, a hot line, a magazine (could be an e-magazine) and face-to-face meetings with top management.  

Finalise the problem statement

It is critical to ensure that the problem statement is 1) Core, to the business goals of the organization. 2) It is clearly defined and is truly the problem and not just a symptom. 3) That top management is involved in the problem statement process and approves it formally in its final state. When many commando teams are planning to pursue a single problem the leaders have to support, nurture, mentor, and reward. Without this clarity and whole hearted support, the initiative will falter. It sometimes happen that junior commando teams choose the problem statement and arrive at solutions. When this is presented to the top management, they receive feedback that the management considers this a problem not worth solving. All the effort is wasted and people dismiss the process as something that does not work in our old fashioned organization.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Suggestions for the facilitator

 Become familiar with what discourages creativity and speculation and what encourages it.  Listen to team members. Encourage, nurture and paint any picture they wish in their own words. Avoid making judgments, tuning out, listening to your own thoughts or not really understanding the speaker. Work on improving listening skills, especially the non-verbal ones.  Be vigilant, and deal with members who try to dominate with immediate and endless details. While they are brilliant, they can ruin a meeting so try to steer them away without alienation. Avoid the compulsive speaker’s eye during the discussion.  Keep the energy level high. Use your alertness, intensity and enthusiasm to improve the field. Your attitude is contagious. Your body language can stimulate the group to greater enthusiasm.  Use visuals, excursions and dynamic movement to avoid slothfulness. Changing the location renews the group especially when people are tired. It is often like an actual vacation from the problem and people return with fresh ideas.  Keep the pace fast, but not hurried.  Use humour, laughter breaks and laughter exercises.  Surprise the group. Have a plan to shake things up for post lunch sessions, or low energy times.  Make sure the problem owner is getting what he wants.  Let everyone learn the demanding role of the facilitator.  Keep an eye on the climate. Be gentle but firm. Be in charge of process. The facilitator is like the conductor of an orchestra. Minute to minute he is responsible for getting the best out of team members in a meeting.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Facilitator and Participants

The facilitator is responsible for managing the group process so that the problem owner gets what they need. The facilitator keeps this in mind and protects group mates while ensuring discipline. • Concerned with process only, never involved in the content • Sets positive climate by: i) accepting all ideas ii) writes down headlines of ideas, and solutions iii) gives everyone a chance to contribute • Elicits the ideas hidden behind a question • Manages the time and pace of the meeting • Ensures the owner’s best current thinking is shared with the group • Ensures that everybody takes notes of what is in their mind Participants are the heart of any meeting. All the skills of the facilitator and the constructive responses of the client are designed to help each participant make his unique contribution. To emphasize the true relationships in a meeting the leader is viewed as one who serves the group. The group is, of course, servant to the problem. The problem owner is the problem’s representative and except in matters of behaviour his opinions are honoured. Differences with him are welcome too. They are aired, written down and the decision of how to use them is left to the client.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Action Teams

The problem owner should identify the team members. This could be done by choosing those keenly interested and involved in solving the problem. It may be a good idea for all members to go on a retreat to understand the problem in detail and to get know each other better. The best teams are small commando teams, where everyone is critically important. Set up ‘3S’ teams – Swift, Small and Strategic.. Here there are no ‘outsiders’, no passengers. Everyone becomes engaged in a small team and becomes completely involved. Each becomes a participant, there are no spectators. ‘How to create a small company mind, in a big company body?’ asked Jack Welch, on the eve of his revolutionary project to make GE, swift and profitable. The best teams are commando teams with 5 – 7 people.’ Within a positive field, genuine team work and collaboration is possible. In commando innovation teams, each one cares about the other, as in a close knit family. They give credit to others who contributed. If Devarajan receives a compliment, he says ‘Thank you. Shivakumar gave me this idea.’ Someone is not available, but when an outsider calls, the person answering says ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’ Everyone has a helpful attitude, whether the problem is official or personal. There should be a constant flow of positive communications among team members. A great team shares many characteristics with the human circulatory system. All feelings of exhilaration, celebration and satisfaction are shared. When the mission is in trouble, ideas are shared and joint action mobilized. A genuine absence of rank in solving problems is required where every member of the team does not hesitate to cross over lines of responsibility and correct what is wrong. All are on the same journey.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Owning a Problem

Call for problem owners. It is essential for every problem to have a problem owner (PO). It is this problem owner who will choose the solution that suits his resources map (6Ms and time). The PO is critical because otherwise the teams will have not have the necessary momentum to reach the finish line and side step hurdles. A problem without an owner is a baby without a mother. The Problem Owner Owner • owns the issue • describes it • directs the content of the meeting by: contributing wishes and ideas, selecting the avenues to explore, paraphrasing ideas to check understanding before evaluating • evaluates constructively • decides when a solution has been reached • commits to next action The team is working with and for this person. The problem owner is responsible to get as much as possible from the team. How the problem owner interacts with team members and their ideas will have a profound impact on the productivity of the group, so it is important that interaction with the team members is designed to increase their involvement.

Create Incubators for Innovation

Mr. Harsh Mariwala, chairman, Marico Industries, believes his corporate social responsibility is spreading the message of innovation as the practice of innovation can build the Nation. He believes that innovation flourishes in an open, empowering culture, a prototyping culture. ‘We give a new business idea to a team and empower them to implement it. We then remove the escape button’. Like the Greek leader who burnt all the boats and bridges once his army was on enemy territory. The commando force was infused with a do or die attitude; there was no way back --  the only way was forward to victory.
‘The idea is first incubated in an Incubation cell. They report directly to me for 2 years. It is dismantled once their role is completed. Today, for example, the Kaya Skin Clinic is a flourishing new business. Each of my product teams identifies their innovation agenda as part of strategic planning.’
‘We are driven by our concern for the environment, and preventive natural good health. To us a customer is a person with constantly rising aspirations. Our suppliers are our partners in business.’
‘“We believe in orbit shifting innovation. To be acceptable, innovation should translate into cash flow. We have experienced that in our company.’

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Management systems and implementation : Steering Committee

Create a steering committee to lead and co-ordinate the Innovation Initiative. The Chief Innovation Officer is usually the chief executive. He is supported by the Innovation Champion and at least two members of top management. This committee will conduct monthly reviews. They will ensure smooth process flow while inspiring the teams to deliver results. The duties of the Innovation Champion will be as follows. • Ensuring that innovation spirals meet regularly. • Organizing training of the trainers and others on an ongoing basis. • Regular follow up to ensure that tasks agreed are carried out. • Facilitating collection of monthly reports and preparing a consolidated report. • He will handhold teams, encourage and promote innovation across the company. The steering committee meets once a month to review and take corrective action. Footfall in the working areas and daily workplace meetings can encourage greater commitment and engagement. The launch should keep the whole organization informed and excited about the plan. The floor should be kept open for those who would like to participate. All teams can meet to gather forces for implementation. The management of innovation depends on the structure created to institutionalize it. Sustained innovation should be recognized as a critical element in organizational structure. Large companies have now finally begun to recognize this. They should ensure that support is provided for innovative projects with potential.

Sub-problem statements

Each problem can then be broken up into sub problems. A problem is like a Jig saw puzzle, made up of many pieces which are the sub problems. This can help you create small teams around each sub problem. Allow each team to work using thinking tools. Create problem statements and sub-problem statements around each of the problems Actions  Team-work drives innovation.  Always encourage, do not discourage.  Ask for advice, do not be afraid to admit mistakes  Cut out all deep-fried foods from your diet.

Friday, May 3, 2013


It is now time to prioritize problems to be solved. Make sure no time is wasted on non-critical problems. Team members can critique and analyze each problem ruthlessly. Put them up on white boards in your Innovation Centre so that people live amidst them, feeling free to add their thoughts. Choose problems which are high value, big ticket items for the company. The four key issues which you may like to consider are – increasing revenues, reducing costs, improving customer satisfaction and improving employee participation. Reflections and actions  Motivation of employees and innovation complement one another.  Organize a movie screening.  Have a long term goal and stick to it through difficult times.  Kick the old coffee habit. Have a glass of fresh fruit juice instead.

Revisit the problem bank

Consider the following types of problems in addition to the obvious ones. • Problems that might arise in future in each of the 6M areas. • Problems that can be avoided if identified. • Problems which can be prevented with condition monitoring. • Problems which may arise when there is a change in any of the 6M areas. Create problem banks around the initial problem statements you identify. A good company maintains a problem bank on its intranet to solicit comments from its workforce. As problems keep getting solved, they can be replaced with new unsolved problems. Reflections and actions  The lack of collaboration between departments stifles innovation  Have a well-decorated office.  Throw out negative emotions like you do thorns in the flesh  Go on a ‘juice diet’ for a day. Start with vegetable juice, and sip fruit for lunch and dinner.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Problem Analysis

Take a look at the outline of problem analysis below. Let the team discuss the problem in depth and make sure that everyone understands all the aspects of the problem. Ask the team to answer the following questions for better understanding of the problem a. What is the present situation? b. Why has the problem arisen? c. Why should it be solved? d. Why it is problem for me personally? e. What thoughts have I already had, or what efforts have I made, to solve the problem? f. Why are these thoughts/efforts in sufficient or unavoidable? g. What kind of action can I initiate towards solving this problem? What would be the ‘ideal’ solution?  ‘Innovation should be part of everyone’s job description’.  Organize a joint shopping expedition for a limited value.  Visualize success and joy  Eat only freshly cooked meals, not refrigerated leftovers

6M Map for Problem Analysis

Every problem can be analyzed by looking at the 6 Ms – Men, Materials, Machines, Methods, Markets, Money. Get the team to study all 6 aspects of the problem past, present and future. If the group is working on new ideas for marketing a product, say, they could review the past and draw up an action plan for the present and future on a three year scale. The 6M Map provides an elegant format to help understand the underlying structure of your company together. It enables you to dissect all parts of your organizational anatomy. ‘Men’ for instance, involves employees, suppliers, customers and encompasses all stake holders. Markets could also include internal customers. Each of the 6 Ms should be thoroughly studied for problems. It is important to involve everyone in identifying the real problem. What is a problem for the worker need not seem like a problem for the manager. Mr.Ramesh, H.R. Director of Hyundai, once recounted the case of an absentee worker. He was constantly absent because of backache. Everyone thought he was malingering, until it was found that he was shorter than the other workers, and was straining his back by stretching it. Increasing the height of the platform on which he stood solved the problem and eliminated his absenteeism. Reflections and actions  Vision and leadership are necessary to inspire a widespread commitment to innovation  Eating together during lunch, especially for a weekly treat. A monthly moonlight, pot luck dinner with families or colleagues can be planned.  Make time for love, compassion, courage, laughter, wonder and peace  Include one green vegetable and one yellow vegetable in every meal.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Creative Problem Solving

Study all the problems identified in the problem bank together. And then ensure that each one is turned into a problem statement in the form of a question. Identifying and formulating the problem is the most difficult part of creative problem solving. Very often we state symptoms of the problems and end up wasting scarce resources chasing the illusionary ‘golden deer of the epics’. Management then becomes so emotionally committed to the wrong path that we can end up moving faster and faster along the wrong road. It is like a man who drills an oil well, in a bad spot. More and more money is spent with no resulting strike. But those involved, refuse to fill up the unproductive well and move on to a new location. They continue throwing good money after bad, because they do not want to admit that a mistake had been made initially. Problem as first stated: How to improve the brakes supplied to the car maker? Creative analysis: Why do we want to improve the brakes? Answer: To stop cars at a shorter distance Creative Analysis: How else can we stop a car at a shorter distance? Why do we want to stop the car at a shorter distance? Answer: To increase safety of occupants of the car. Restatement of problem: How might we improve safety in a car’s stopping system? Result: This is much broader than the original challenge and opens a wider door to novel ideas. At one of my early creativity laboratories for mothers, twenty-two years ago, one of the participants said, ‘My problem is how I get my son to eat eggs for breakfast.’ A rigorous analysis of the problem uncovered the real quandary, ’How do I get my son to eat a nutritious breakfast?’ The restatement of the problem enabled the mother to give the child a variety of foods ranging from cheese and idlis, to cutlets and samosas, instead of forcing the child to eat the hated eggs. Redefining the problem statement is the challenging part of the process, as all of us who have struggled with the task of arriving at a hypothesis know. Stating and understanding the problem correctly is the key to the Innovation Initiative.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Creating a Problem Bank

Ask each team member to write all the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving excellence on post-in slips. The problem bank should be a constantly growing database of emerging problems, developed by stakeholders. It should reflect the possibility of improvement and innovation, even in processes that seem to be working perfectly well. Anyone in the organization should be able to work on these problems and help solve them. In a good, dynamic organization, there will be at least a few problems which remain unsolved and may need outside help. The time to identify problems is when things are going well. The organization then has the resources and energy to find hidden problems. To create a problem bank you can use a ‘problem tree’. Ask everyone to write all the obstacles that lie in the way of making your company, say, the most successful company in the world. People can write thoughts on post-it slips and look at all the problems of the company together. Circulate this list to everyone and keep adding to the list right through the next 90 days. This problem bank should be exhibited in a place where everybody can see it – like the canteen, coffee machine or on the way to the wash-room.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Enhance Positive Attitude

Every day, persuade your team to introduce 4 good habits that will elevate body, mind and soul. Look for the 4-way plan to enhance team work. • Ignite the positive field by lighting a fragrant agarbathi or aroma therapy diffuser. • The lack of resources forces us to innovate. Tough times help us to adapt. • Use only fresh vegetables. • Take care of yourself – physically mentally and emotionally

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Understand the Innovation Process

It is very important to identify the challenges that face the company and ensure that the problems chosen have true strategic importance. If this step is ignored, organizational energy can be wasted on trivial issues. That is why the outcome of solving each problem should be carefully studied so that only high impact solutions are chosen. Identify a goal that creates excitement and energy. This could be a general goal and it can be refined later. The goal could be, ‘How to become a 1,000 crore company’, or ‘How to reduce costs by 50%’ or ‘How to create a Customer Fan Club’. Unless there is excitement and energy created around the initiative, a positive field, revolutionary change cannot take off. The slogan of that single unchanging word ‘Change’ defines the field created around Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. From being a rank outsider, he became the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate and the forty-fourth president of the US. The field is created by a clear, consistent, credible goal, shared by millions. It reminds everyone of Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream!’ or Gandhiji’s ‘Quit India!’ Creating a positive field around the idea is the most important first step in starting the innovation initiative. Enthusiasm, excitement and playfulness create a climate where creativity can germinate and innovation can branch into a productive sheltering tree. The study of how to create a positive field will be a life long endeavour. But today, consciously install the positive field in your mind and in the minds of your team.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Encourage Team work

There are a number of ways to include people and create commonness in creating a team there by encouraging the team work. • Share common goals • Speak common language • Undertake journey together • Talk about personal success and failure • Chant common prayers, mantras and exercise together • Share a common ‘shorthand’ of thinking • Enjoy and share common jokes give each other compliments • Affirm each other

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Innovation Spiral

The first step in developing an environment that nurtures creativity is to separate idea generation from analysis. Most business sessions do not yield too many breakthrough ideas because managers are too busy shooting down each other’s ideas. Such meetings produce boring, safe and often useless suggestions. So create an Innovation Spiral where members will feel safe to be open, inventive, and even silly. Playfulness and fun define this positive climate and is critical to the emergence of creative ideas as the new ideas being developed should be challenging. If all the emerging ideas are ones that you feel comfortable with, then these ideas are old and the team should challenge themselves further. Here are a few self-limiting obstacles to creative thinking: * The habit of self-censorship. * A lack of respect for others. * Adopting the status quo. * Assuming limitations, instead of possibilities.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Key Elements in an Innovation Initiative

The key elements in an Innovation Initiative a. Stimulating • Identifying people to be included in innovation initiative. • Help in selecting projects for creative problem solving. • Making available teams to work on projects. • Top management approval and support. • Development of game plan with time, cost and staffing parameters b. Nurturing • Officially recognize the teams and scope of activity Schedule presentation to top management. • Provide a budget Organize Innovation Symposiums. • Provide space and time for innovation spirals to meet. • Mentors to help solve organizational hassles. • Provide common facilities center c. Sustaining • Start a MINDSPOWER club to meet once a month. Give innovation awards. • Celebrate good ideas. Prepare reports and publish success stories. • Use the innovation club for self development. • Have a 52 -week program on innovation. • Persuade all to use Innovation Tools. d. Reinstating • Communicate results of Innovation Initiative. • Have annual awards for Best Teams. • Name Master Innovators. • Have a series of tests that can lead to learning sets of thinking tools. • Create an office for development of Innovation, with representation on the Board.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


The greatest competitive advantage comes from out-innovating the competition. As Tom Peters put it, ‘Add 10 differentiations to every product or service every 60 days. Sounds impossible? Isn’t it tough? It is. But what are the options? Your competitors are not sitting still.’ Innovation 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 edge required to face the challenge of globalization. Creativity may become essential for survival in the Indian context, where there is such a major limitation of resources. Today is the age of knowledge and innovation can take companies forward at the speed of thought. The process that leads to the moment of discovery, invention, creativity and innovation can be broken down into five parts: • Problem statement • Idea generation • Incubation • Analysis • Implementation

Friday, March 15, 2013


Innovation deals with bringing in new methods and ideas resulting in required changes leading to successful innovation. The term innovate derives from a Latin word which means, ‘to renew’. Creativity and Innovation are different in principle. Creativity is the spark and Innovation is the fire in the fireplace which cooks and bakes. Planned innovation requires analysis, systems and hard work. Creativity is divided into four components: the creative person, the creative process, the creative product and the creative environment. Why Innovate? Innovation turns problems and inconveniences into profitable elements of a business. The mightiest of modern organizations have been built in a few short years through the power of information and the human mind. Helping to manage human imagination, to develop creative solutions, will be the secret of winners in the future. Innovation can be seen in every field and every sector. Corporations that adopt innovation as a way of life never need to compete. Theirs is the path where no one has gone before; the path which leads to untold success. ‘There are no limitations to the possibilities of the human mind. Microsoft’s only factory asset is the human imagination,’ Frank Moody.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Culture of Innovation

The culture of innovation in large companies is always a systematic long term process gradually involving all key players in the company through small commando teams of between 5-7 people. Beginning with building the intangible positive field, it involves the systematic practice of thinking tools, the formula for thinking out of the box. The tools are embedded like gems in the necklace of the positive field. Regular practice of the tools makes them a part of your mental software. It becomes as much a part of you as breathing. To think systematically, every day is not a normal habit. One has to make the effort. Involving others makes it easier because thinking as an interactive activity is far simpler than thinking alone. The ping pong of team interaction helps keep new ideas in the air, while developing them. As in weight watchers, the support of the team is critical for sustained innovation. Some people ask, how one can go through this whole process and get any work done. The answer is simple. While learning to drive one has to keep so many separate actions in mind. But once you have learnt to drive, most of these actions become automatic. Often, you are almost on auto pilot, as you think of the day ahead. The same thing happens once the process of Innovation and the thinking tools are internalized.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Road Map to Transformation

 To create an initiative to be led by team leaders and their ideas, so that their youthful, proactive innovations can transform the organization creating a positive climate and using the 47 thinking tools.  The present system is geared to do the opposite: it seeks to fit them into the existing traditional system.  There is also a need to take senior and middle management along if this is to work. Mentors should be part of the process of innovation.  An Innovation champion will be chosen from the group, who will steer the Innovation Initiative facilitated by an Innovation Trainer.  Innovation Stars will be made responsible for innovative actions. This will be a part of individual KRAs with feedback and rewards systems.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Enhance a Positive Field

• Light a fragrant agarbathi or use an aroma therapy diffuser. • Open all the windows and let in the sunlight. • Call a friend who really likes you and just bathe in the unconditional positive field of friendship. • Turn on your favorite music and let it pour over you and into your mind and heart. • Try to organize a car pool or transport van for team members. • Organize an outing with the team. • Organize joint shopping expedition for a limited value. • Eat together during lunch, specially for a weekly treat. • Have a well-decorated office. • Organize a movie screening.