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
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.
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
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.
The key elements in an Innovation Initiative
• 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
• 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
• 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.
• 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
• 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.
The first rule of innovation is ‘everything changes.’ A block of ice becomes water and later rises up as vapor in the unlimited sky. Air and water and ice are essentially the same. Let us consider the changing nature of life. Should furniture and living space change as a child grows from babyhood to a teenager? The height of beds, the handles of cupboards and doors should take into account the eye level and hand level of the growing child.
Barrier free spaces in public places will be needed by the physically challenged as well as the changing demography of rapidly aging populations. A more human approach is architecture for the blind, where sensory signals can be felt with the bare feet or hands, like you feel typewriter keys with your fingers, is essential.
A paraplegic once reminded me that I was a TAB – Temporarily Abled! Anytime, any place, can signal the first time we become physically disabled. Michelangelo was once asked how he created all those wonderful statues. He said, “I have never created a statue in my life. I just stand in reverence before a block of marble, when it arrives from the quarries of Cararra. For I know within every block of marble, there lies a statue waiting to be liberated by the touch of the Master’s hand.” So too, within every space, lies the possibility of a masterpiece, emerging with the touch of an artist’s imagination.
Breaking the boundaries and thinking outside the box can have interesting results. Space is often treated like a closed box. The Japanese poets have always spoken of the skyscape and trees and landscape as being part of the living space. Designs should celebrate the sky and trees that surround the space.
Consider the concept of stress free architecture. Old Indian village homes had a pot of water at the entrance, to wash your feet and face before entering. How would it be to walk through a water channel as you enter a house?
The Japanese who have a culture of discipline where one rarely disagrees with an elder, have punching bags in their offices with increasing levels of daily stress and long working hours; I would recommend a stress busting corner in every working and living space. A place to absorb earth energy by walking barefoot on a safe, springy patch of grass. A central space in skyscrapers, where trees can grow and birds can sing and sunshine can pour into the hearts of concrete jungles. I still remember the circular shape of a hospital in Mangalore, with a garden and flowing water in the middle. “No one can get well, if they cannot see the sky, smell the flowers and hear the flowing water,” said the chairman of that hospital.
Peter Drucker in his classic work on innovation speaks of a real estate company which became a success in a depressed postwar market. It was in the aftermath of the Second World War. Nobody was investing in buying new houses. Young people, just married, were particularly averse to investing in a home. Till a young real estate genius became a runaway success in a depressed postwar market. He did not sell houses, he sold dreams. He sold a little 200 square feet studio apartment with a 2000 square feet blueprint of a dream house. “Build your dream home as and when you can afford it, in modules,” was the message. He used the concept that people invest in dreams rather than immediately visible, touch and feel products.
The innovation tool, ‘Turn it upside down’ (TUD) helped me turn a major corporate hospital brand from a place of illness to a sanctuary of wellness. The same hospital taught me that the most important part of a place of healing, is not the floor, not the walls, not the counters. These things were important to caregivers who were on their feet, vertical to the floor. But hospitals are built for patients – most of whom are horizontal, on their back, lying on beds, looking at the ceiling. One of the hospitals where special care has been lavished on the ceiling is the Singhania’s hospital in Kota, Rajasthan. The ceilings are a blaze of color. Collages are created out of broken marble chips. What must have started as an attempt to practice economy, has resulted in a masterpiece to keep patients as happy and amused as the changing patterns of clouds in the sky!
Many men question the need for empathy in a bottomline- oriented workplace. Toughness is respected and empathy is considered a sign of weakness. Goodness and kindness are rejected as ‘older person’ feelings.’ I would like to propose the installation of the so called feminine qualities into the workplace. This would probably make the workplace more creative and right brained.
And, as we generally fear our fathers and love our mothers, the concept of a mother-Goddess appeals more to our hearts than that of a father-God. Women are trained to be lovingly supportive, of listening to a child struggling to say his first word. Patience is a culturally celebrated feminine virtue. “As patient as the earth” is the phrase used for a good mother. Unconditional acceptance is ordained in a verse, which says, “Whether he is hard hearted as a stone or useless as a leaf of grass, he is to be loved and supported as a husband, within the circle of a lifetime relationship like marriage.” Empathy becomes easier in such a relationship, protected by the possibility of a lifetime bond. Traditionally, women are comfortable with the care of the old and the infirm. They are patient with stumbling or lack of competence. Today this is changing because women have to operate in the workplace where the rules are different. Can the feminine principle become part of the charter of human hood in the workplace?
Here are the new rules for holistic humanity for managers, including women managers:
The Mind is central to success in business today. Carl Segan wrote of the Mind: “Every human being has the capacity to store the equivalent of 7550 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Women managers like men need to develop the powers of their mind. The Indian ethos gives us key answers in this journey towards having a razor sharp mind, that can cut through all that is superfluous to the heart of Truth. Develop the ability to wipe your mind clean through silent meditation, because great concepts can be created only when the mindspace is clear of mindless static.
2. Managers must conquer fear and overcome the need for instructions or guidance. Pursue the ability to adapt and be a leader of proactive change. The New World is not for those who are what Nehru called, unwilling victims, dragged to be sacrificed on the alter of change. It is for the promoters of change. Those who dictate the unknown future. Managers must be leaders to be accepted as such. They need to banish forever, their fear of being centerstage, their reluctance to accept that they are where the buck stops.
3. Relearn and reinstall the ultimate software of the human heart that our mothers embodied. The matchless Navarasa of emotional intelligence, explored by Bharata’s 2000 year old Natya Shastra, predates Daniel Goleman by several centuries. The New Human of the past decade has often forsaken her heritage of loving, caring and affirmation for the tough, hard bitten, so called “male boss model.” Both men and women managers need to put the human being at the center of all business processes. Substance is winning the battle that style has waged on corporate battlefields.
4. Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Women managers need to appreciate that it takes heroic energy to rock the cradle and rock the corporate world. First pin a badge for bravery on yourself for attempting it. Then, promise you will not even begin to tread the path that leads to the joyless land of being a Super Woman or Super Mom. Enlist your men and families as willing accomplices in the challenging task of reconstructing a corporate workplace that lovingly accommodates the needs of humans, for families, for music, poetry and time for just standing and watching the world go by!
5. Health is the car you are given to complete life’s journey. The body too needs preventive maintenance. Look after your health. As group Vice President of the Apollo Hospitals group, we tried to launch the Well Woman Check Up in the same way as the predominantly male Master Health Check Up. “Is your wife overworked, tired, stressed out? Bring her for a Well Woman Check Up,” our advertisement said. The marketplace administered a sharp rap on the knuckles, when not a single woman responded.
Dr. Rekha Shetty is Managing Director of Farstar Distribution Network, a unique consultancy company devoted exclusively to innovation and creativity under the brand name Mindspower.She is an author, an entrepreneur and an original thinker. Her long term Innovation Initiative, using 47 thinking tools helps in a steep increase in profits, reduction in costs, while improving customer satisfaction levels and employee participation levels. She is a consultant to ICICI Bank, Ashok Leyland Ltd., Hyundai Motors Ltd., TVS Group, TI Group, Durgapur Steel Plant, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. and other blue chip companies.
In her very first assignment in United India Insurance, she developed a nationally acclaimed advertising campaign. During the last seventeen years, she has specialized in the field of Creativity in Management and developed her own management brand, Mindspower. She was one of Asia’s first women District Governors for Rotary International and was awarded Rotary’s highest Award – Service above Self.
Her fourth book “Innovate! 90 Days to Transform your Business” is under print and will be released by Penguin during May 2010.