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.