Listening and Innovation

When I was learning the tricks of my trade from my teacher, I used to listen.

Since I hardly ever questioned him or expressed any doubt about what he said he asked me one day, “Do you understand what I say?”

“Yes”, I said “since I intently listen to what you say.”

“And how is that?” he asked.

“When I am listening to you there are no longer two persons like you and I. There are no longer the speaker and the listener. I just become one with you. That is the only way I understand what you say. The whole responsibility is mine”

Even today, I remember not only what my teacher spoke but also remember the manner in which he spoke, wrote, explained, gestured — every small detail.

Soon some of my friends remarked that when I delivered a talk or a lecture or engaged in a conversation, I spoke and behaved exactly the way my teacher did.

Needless to say, that this skill of listening soon helped me surge ahead with rapid speed in what became my profession and my hobby.  Soon I innovated many special techniques and methods of innovation that can be easily applied to complex situations.

Listening is an indispensable skill in innovation.

It is so very important when innovation is a response to an existing complexity.

The goal of listening is to merge with what is being ‘listened’ to and be one with it.

Then only true understanding emerges.

All good innovations take birth from such true understanding.

 

 

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Chance favors the connected mind!

The art of ‘noticing’ or ‘paying attention’ or ‘observation’ is the starting point for our Nemtical studies, Design Kata and Rapidinnovation.

Right observation is the basis of strategy formulation, innovation, decision making and possibly everything we do as humans. Much depends on our choice and power of discrimination of what to notice and what not to notice.

The following article brilliantly exposes the ‘Art of Observation’ in a very nuanced manner.

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/03/29/the-art-of-observation/

Indeed ‘Chance favors the connected mind’.

 

Pattern Based Innovative Management

This is a guest post contributed by Daniel Durrant.

Pattern Based Innovative Management

By

Daniel Durrant*

Over the past few weeks I’ve been conversing online with Dibyendu De, a reliability management consultant in Kolkatta, India.  For 23 years of his career he has applied his extensive background as a mechanical design engineer toward helping 50 organizations achieve sustainable growth.  Our conversation utilized social media channels like Twitter, Google+, and blog posts, written in response to some of the questions I raised for my assignment in “Management Issues for Information Professionals”, a class I’m taking at QUT.  Eventually we caught up for a brief Hangout using Google+, where we discussed his views on management, strategy, and innovation.

Observation

Dibyendu declares that “observation is the most important part of anything” and that it serves as the starting point for understanding and communicating “reality”.  He suggests that “observation” is the foundation on which we would build further (De, D. Personal Correspondence, 13, March 2013).  He then tweets, “Science Engineering & Management are like bikinis, what can be seen is interesting; what’s hidden is vital.”  He’s being humorous, but entirely serious.

Without observation, the strategies can end up being based on “dreams and wishes”, he tells me.  Dibyendu adds another tweet, “Business reality is complex. So it can’t be dealt by rules, fixed plans, policies or idealistic wishes.”  He goes on to explain that the starting point of understanding “complex business reality is by viewing failures & their undesirable effects.”

I’m reminded of Peter Drucker‘s suggestion that organisations should seek “windows of opportunity” not just in successes, but in “unexpected failures” (Druker, 2007).  It has also been said that “failure is more instructional than success” according to Tim Ogilvie, CEO of Peer Insight, an innovation consultancy based in Washington, D.C..  He argues that failure can be inspiration for startups to fill a void in a particular marketplace.  He’s quoted by Entrepreneur.com,  “I don’t think about failure … I use the word experiment.  I think, I’ve got a hypothesis about a business, and I’m going to do an experiment to test the hypothesis.  Just that language alone makes you less prone to self-delusion” (Hann, 2013).

Perception

Dibyendu shares a similar view as Drucker and Ogilvie; additionally, he emphasizes the failures resulting from overlooking the perceptions of customers, a serious marketing failure.  In an email, Dibyendu tells me that the customer is “the only profit center any organisation has” and that while management may look at ‘market research’ to find out needs “they don’t have systems in place to capture how the customer actually ‘notices’ the organisation.”  He continues, “Since they overlook this, they are at a loss to find ways and means to engage them till exchange” (De, D. Personal Correspondence, 21, March 2013).

A story on Dibyendu’s blog about a hospital in Kolkata provides an example of how strategy can be skewed by management’s failure to include their customer’s perceptions.  The hospital he visited was named after the famous poet: Rabindranath Tagore Heart Research Institute.  The formidable reputation of the hospital began in 2000 when it was founded, but more recently it’s business had slumped from what the chief administrator told Dibyendu was the “ever-increasing stress of handling the ‘swelling crowd’” (De, 2013).

Dibyendu shares a brief history of the hospital, founded by a famous heart surgeon, Dr. Devi Shetty and his top grade specialists, who were highly trusted.  A well-known national daily interviewed Dr. Shetty about his dedicated application of a service replica based on Ford’s Model T, a point of pride for the hospital because of the large number of successful operations and other procedures that had been carried out by his team who applied his system.

The chief administrator was worried by how many of their patients had switched to their competitors and how good doctors were leaving; he inquired how the hospital could keep their profits up so that they might open similar facilities in other towns and nearby states.  Dibyendu asked, “Where are your research facilities?” It turns out, the Rabindranath Tagore Heart Research Institute, didn’t have any.  Dibyendu then asks the readers of his blog what the hospital’s strategy should be moving forward.  In response, I pointed out that a service replica of Ford’s Model T is a poor fit for a hospital because “relating human beings to manufacturing cars is a mismatched metaphor.” I then suggest that the strategy would need to re-align with the perceptions that the name of the hospital suggests and “the fact that no research was being done and the spirit of Tagore was not alive and well in the hospital, is the key issue to be addressed.”

Dibyendu replies in agreement, “Yes, perceptions of customers rule strategy. A kind of inverted image to start thinking on strategy.”  One of his tweets also speaks to this point: “Strategy is [about] Questions. But before that comes, viewing or notice. … [Without] that, nothing.”

Interaction

Tied up in the issue of failed perceptions is manager’s tendency to “label” and seek plans with “magic bullets”.  In a conversation, Dibyendu explains, “Once you have labelled something, you have siloed it.”  When management begins to label problems their minds go in a prescribed direction and they rely on what he calls “traditional medicines”.  The tools and methods of experts can be useful, but very often they are “applied forcefully”, which is the issue.  Again, he stresses that interactions are the important part and that what needs to be done doesn’t require “gurus”.  His suggestion is to “innovate your own cure” (De, D. Personal Correspondence, 21, March 2013).

When asked if manufacturing companies take up innovation as their first choice?  Dibyendu replies, “No. In fact it is usually the last choice.”  He detailed why on his blog:

… companies first try out tried, tested and proven methods to achieve their aspiration. In that process they do achieve quite a bit. The focus is generally on operational efficiency and cut costs. When they don’t achieve what they set out for then only they take up innovation to achieve their goal. They generally take up innovation when they find their ‘magic bullets’ not providing them the needed relief or results. (De, 2012)

His description of the issue reminds me of an often overlooked distinction between strategic planning and strategic thinking described by Fiona Graetz.  She explains how strategic planning deals with the step-by-step, rational, systematic, logical process.  While on the other hand strategic thinking views patterns, which Graetz says are “unplanned, emergent strategy patterns or consistencies that are realized despite, or in the absence, of intentions” (Graetz, 2002).  My understanding is that strategic planning tends to involve proven methods, while strategic thinking supports more innovative outcomes.

I asked Dibyendu, “Why do you think innovation is needed in an organization?”  He responded during our hangout, and then later typed out his answer on his blog:

Two things. First, while strategy gives direction to an organization innovation drives it. Strategy and innovation go together. Second, all organisations are unique in their own individual ways. This is because design of all organizations differ. These small differences create the uniqueness for each company. Hence there seems to be no common magic formula or bullets to bite. Each organization has its own story and those stories can only be improved by people within the organization through their innovative efforts. (De, 2013)

Design

I wanted to hear more of his approach and wondered if it had to do with his brand of “Rapidinnovation”.  I inquired into its meaning and if it signifies that innovations can be done rapidly. He explains that “RAPID is an acronym which stands for Reliability, Availability and Performance Improvement through Design Innovation.”  He adds how RAPID can also include innovations achieved “quickly and effectively” (De, 2013).

Dibyendu has found that people are generally afraid of innovation due to the risks involved.  He writes about the importance of “decision making criteria to achieve a balance between risks and rewards.”  Rewards such as “improved reliability, availability and performance” must be clear in the minds of management, he tells me.  He goes on about the value of earning more with less effort and how innovation needn’t involve the cheap production of things by cutting costs.  He clarifies that innovation should “reduce risks to the minimum while maximizing the benefits” (De, 2013).

I inquired into how these benefits are achieved.  Dibyendu tells me it has to do with “design innovation, which is a type of minimal intervention that maximizes return on the assets.”  In manufacturing organisations, design is everywhere, from the layout of machines, their maintenance systems, product designs, management systems, strategies, and the organisation itself.  The issue is that each is designed and managed separately, yet the interactions between them fall out of balance, due to “small imperfections” which produce “failures, problems, or issues that prevent any organization from achieving what they want to achieve” (De, 2013).  He then puts this in context of Rapidinnovation:

The job in Rapidinnovation is to find or identify these hidden imperfections and then eliminate them through innovation thereby releasing the trapped or clogged energy within the organization to flow again smoothly and more productively. Thereby you achieve more with less. However, such innovations must be minimally invasive so that it not only uses the least amount of effort, resources and time to execute but also minimizes risk to the minimum possible extent. It must however ensure long term benefits to the company in terms of ROA (return on assets). Else innovations are meaningless. (De, 2013)

Balance

I asked how to go about discovering these imperfections?  He tells me, “Start from failures an organization experiences. Start anywhere and soon one gets to see the whole symphony” (De, 2013).

Much of Dibyendu’s work focuses on the people of the organisation, helping them find balance in life and work, as well as in the strategic decisions they make.   He explains to me that strategic planning often fails to recognize and explain complexity.  He believes that strategy and design “go hand in hand” and that people’s development and their lives needs to be a part of the equation if there is to be “social upliftment”.  In a blog post he writes:

… it is indeed stupid to have any fixed plan in the mind and exert our will to achieve the ‘desired mental model’ we have in mind. That of course does not tell us not to have any ‘intention‘ whatsoever. Nor does it ask us to submit to ‘fatality’ of reality. Our path clearly lies in balancing between the two wheels of ‘reality’ and ‘desire’ forged by our will emanating from intention. Such balancing act is fueled by the heady mix of courage to pay attention to our thought process and the deeply felt intention to balance.

Stories

During our hangout, Dibyendu explained how his approach to diagnosing problems involves “the mind of the people”.  He adds, “Innovation comes from their sufferings, their memories, and thinking.” This is done through extensive meetings and dialogues with all involved.   He said that very little data is gathered, but rather, attention is paid to stories and the underlying narrative which all parties involved have yet to perceive:  “By linking stories, little data is needed.  The diagnosis is in the narrative.”  He further describes his process on his blog:

It is mainly through dialogues with people. They tell about their pains, shortcomings, challenges, problems and you soon get to see the patterns within those stories and narratives. You then help them see or notice the underlying patterns that are affecting them and off they go on their own creating their own cures. Seeing the affected patterns is the important thing. Once seen the rest follows. However, there is one problem. If you don’t get to see the pattern in a blink you possibly miss the pattern for a long time. Whatever it might be — at the end of the day, there is really no magic formula to apply. People must innovate their own cure to get rid of organizational diseases and keep them at bay.

Dibyendu suggests that people become aware of their feelings and stories, thus self regulating potentially destructive impulses that may compound into an organisational disease.  His views remind me of Daniel Goldman’s work on emotions, popularized in his work on “What Makes a Leader”. Goldman suggests that “many of the bad things that happen in companies are a function of impulsive behavior ”  Goldman describes how organisational integrity is maintained by people who actively self regulate their emotions during changes by thoughtfully reflecting during times of ambiguity (Goldman, 2004).

Dibyendu’s approach could also be compared to the kind of “organizational conversations” that Groysberg and Slind describe in “Leadership is a Conversation”.  The casual conversations they describe are less about “issuing and taking orders than about asking and answering questions.”  They found in their research that smart leaders “engage with employees in a way that resembles an ordinary person-to-person conversation more than it does a series of commands from on high” (Slind & Groysberg, 2012).

Dibyendu’s method involves a unique line of questioning that at times may involve inquiring into the perceptions of individuals and then gauging their willingness to “see things differently”.  He plays an active role as a facilitator and by witnessing interactions between all parties involved, he discovers overlooked relations between processes and people in the organisation. He tells me that oftentimes there are debates, but eventually a new way of doing things becomes apparent.  In other words, the solutions to their problems emerge from their own stories and interactions.

Conclusion

The scope of management issues is vast and complex, crossing multiple domains.  Dibyendu’s emphasis on looking beyond the labels and seeing the relations is a capacity that I intend to cultivate within myself.  Organisational distress is often caused by the failures of prescriptive thinking which fails at observing the emerging patterns that matter most.  These patterns arise from interactions and perceptions that are engaged through a “whole symphony” of stories.  Designs that are derived from these stories can balance “reality and desire”, while accelerating innovation throughout the organization.

Innovation, strategy, design, marketing, and leadership are not separate, but enacted by the entire “symphony” of an organisation.  All actors in the organisation can notice what underpins their interactions and choose to engage in conversations more mindfully.  Time can be taken to mull over the stories and patterns of exchange that shape perceived realities.  When the whole organisation is given the chance to observe their own stories and emotions, balance can steadily be restored and innovation becomes attainable.

My dialogue with Dibyendu has helped me clarify the value of our collaborative learning relationship.  This engagement has revealed and continues to present ‘emergent patterns’ that are informing our own strategic thinking.  Indeed, it seems these patterns relate to a broader context, a narrative beyond the scope of this particular report, which I must now conclude.

References

De, D. (2012, February 21). Nemetics – Some Questions and Answers. Retrieved from http://dibyendu.tumblr.com/post/18006947480/nemetics-some-questions-and-answers

De, D. (2012, August 10). Problems, Landscapes, Habits; Leadership in the 21st Century. Retrieved from https://rgbwaves.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/problems-landscapes-habits-leadership-in-the-21st-century/

De, D. (2012, July 23). 1 of 100 Suchness of Wicked Problems through Nemetic Lenses. Retrieved from http://chaosysdesign.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/1-of-100-suchness-of-wicked-problems.html

De, D. (2013, March 16). Model T in a Famous Hospital. Retrieved from https://rgbwaves.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/model-t-in-a-famous-hospital/

De, D. (2013, March 28). Innovate Your Own Cure. Retrieved from https://rgbwaves.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/innovate-your-own-cure/

De, D. (rapidinnovator). “Science Engineering & Management are like bikinis, what can be seen is interesting; what’s hidden is vital.” 12 May 2013, 6:59 p.m. Tweet.

De, D. (rapidinnovator). ” Business reality is complex. So it cant be dealt by rules, fixed plans, policies or idealistic wishes.” 12 May 2013, 7:14 p.m. Tweet.

De, D. (rapidinnovator). “Starting pt of understanding complex business reality is by viewing failures & their undesirable effects.” 12 May 2013, 7:23 p.m. Tweet.

De, D. (rapidinnovator). ” Strategy is abt Questions. But before that comes viewing or notice. Most imp. [Without] that nothing.” 12 May 2013, 9:14 p.m. Tweet.

Drucker, P. (2007). Chapter 3: The change leader. In Peter Drucker (2007) Management challenges in the 21 st century. Oxford, UK: Butterworth – Heinemann, pp. 62-81.

Goleman, D. (2004). What makes a leader? Harvard Business Review, 82(1), 82-91.

Hann, C. (2013, January 23). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/225199

Marin, R. (2013, February 2013). Don’t Let Strategy Become Planning. Retrieved from http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/02/dont_let_strategy_become_plann.html

Slind, M., & Groysberg, B. (2012, June). Leadership Is a Conversation. Retrieved from http://hbr.org/2012/06/leadership-is-a-conversation/

About the Author:

Daniel Durrant (aka Dan R.D) is a Masters Student of Information Technology at QUT in Brisbane, Australia.  Dan actively researches how organizations can best adapt, communicate, and innovate when challenged by complex issues.  He is interested in how mobile connectivity is enabling citizens and organizations to learn and serve each other in more meaningful ways.  Dan is just beginning his investigation into how simulation games can enable leaders to perceive a more holistic and contextually rich view of the environmental and social needs facing their organization.  Dan’s additional research interests include change management, leadership, learning environments, collective intelligence, publishing services, interaction and affective design, sensor networks, robots and drones, augmented reality, health and human potential, complex adaptive systems, strategic communication, and knowledge management. His collaborative approach to research has linked him with a diverse group of professionals from around the globe who share a common quest for stories and solutions that inspire us to achieve more with less.  Central to this aim is ensuring that workers from all walks of life can thrive during uncertainty by gaining new literacy and maths skills.

 

Immersion Workshop on Rapidinnovation

Indian Chamber of Commerce is hosting an ‘Immersion Workshop’ on Rapidinnovation on 26th April, 2013 at Kolkata at their premises 4, India Exchange Place, Kolkata – 700001.

This is second part of the series on Manufacturing Excellence made up of 5 parts.

The announcement and the workshop schedule follow:

Indian Chamber of Commerce

Workshop Series on Manufacturing Excellence Toolkit

 

26th April 2013 – Workshop on Rapidinnovation

 

Manufacturing Excellence in modern times needs at least five components to meet the highest standards of operational stability, efficiency and effectiveness on a sustainable basis. It is like the five fingers of a hand. To use the hand efficiently all five fingers must be effective. The five components are: –

1. TPM, CBM, RCM — Maximize Manufacturing Efficiency by minimizing wastage and risks

2. Rapidinnovation — Dramatically improves Productivity, Performance and Profitability on an on-going basis       through creativity & innovation

3. Marketing  & Beyond — New Age Industrial Marketing Strategies

4. Strategy– Formulate a creative company strategy to create great new Products and Services to solve problems of customers through efficiency and innovation

5. New Age Human Development Skills – Human Competencies in the new age – a more creative workforce to unleash human potential.

 

These are interdependent paths to excellence. Therefore they are inseparable.

Keeping this in mind, we intend to regularly conduct brief ‘Immersion Workshops’ every month to expose participants to these well-tested concepts filled with practical ideas, and follow-up with the “Master-class Series”  which may be upgraded, on demand, to the Systems Clinic Cluster approach. At the inception level, all individual workshops would be of 5 hours duration which would include lunch and 2 tea-breaks. We are launching the Excellence Series with the second workshop on 26th April, 2013, at the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Meeting room 1, 9th Floor, 4 India Exchange Place, Kolkata 700001.

Workshop on Rapidinnovation

AimDramatically improve Productivity, Performance and Profitability on an on-going basis through creativity & innovation. While strategy gives direction to an organization, innovation drives it. Organizational Strategy and innovation go together to achieve the aspiration of any organization.

Who must attend?

Managers from the  manufacturing industries, who would like to understand how to align strategy and innovation to dramatically improve Productivity, Performance and Profitability in the shortest possible time with least effort and resources by eliminating inherent ‘imperfections’ in their systems.

Take away:

After attending the workshop the participants would be able to –

1.  Learn how organizational strategy and innovation are linked.

2.   Learn about the process of discovering hidden ‘imperfections’ in various interactions

3.     Learn how to achieve balance between risks and rewards

4.     Learn and apply the fundamental process of innovation.

5.     Draw action plans for initiating Rapidinnovation to improve the 3 Ps.
Workshop Coverage:

1.     What is Rapidinnovation?

2.     Systems, Interactions, Complexity, Imperfections

3.     The Fundamental Approach of the innovation process.

4.     The Concept of minimal intervention

5.     Cases of innovation in machines, maintenance system, product, customer experience, systems design, strategy design & organizational design

 

Methodology: Lectures, Dialogs, Case Studies, Hands on exercises

 

Schedule of the Immersion Workshop

Introduction – 15 mins

Rapidinnovation – Strategy formulation with case study – 30 mins
Dibyendu De, Director, The International Nemetics Institute

Tea break – 15 mins

Formulation of Balanced Scorecard with example – Satrajit Sanyal, Deputy Director, ICC – 30 mins

Aligning strategy with innovation a case study – Smita Pandit Chakraborty (CEO of Phoenix Continental Tyres, Europe) – 30 mins

Lunch – 60 mins

More case studies – Dibyendu De, Director, The International Nemetics Institute, Kolkata – 30 mins

Learning & Human Development – a plan – Sanjukta Mukherjee, Deputy Director, Indian Chamber of Commerce – 30 mins

Q&A session with tea – 30 mins

Each session would be followed by 15 mins of Q & A session on the topic covered.

Please contact through twitter (@rapidinnovator) or by just leaving a reply on this blog if you want to enjoy the experience.

What Happens When We Fail to Notice?

This is an excellent story of what happens when big players fail to notice the potential of small niche innovators in the market

Arie Goldshlager (@ariegoldshlager) tweeted at 10:35 PM on Sat, Mar 30, 2013: The Blockbuster Innovator’s Dilemma http://t.co/EvFafsUD8L #innovation (https://twitter.com/ariegoldshlager/status/318046359682945024)

A number of things might happen:

1. While you are ignoring; the niche market player might develop the market under your very eyes to the ‘tipping point’ which might topple the Goliath.

2. The attitude of ignoring might serve as an authentic constraint for the small players to innovate as nobody’s business against authentic constraints. Authentic Constraints never pose a dilemma for innovators. It usually makes them better.

3. The very act of not noticing informs innovators about the assumptions the big players are relying upon to work and the emerging patterns they are missing out since they devote more time consolidating  leadership positions in an uncertain market.

Are their any more advantage for innovators?

P&G’s Case in India: Aligning Strategy with Innovative Management

Aspiration driven consumption is unfolding with gusto in the rural markets of India.

For instance, take baby diapers. Today, rural sales of baby diapers are in excess of Rs 200 crores. Over the last two years, rural category sales have grown by over 150%, with rural diaper sales accounting for 15% of total value sales of diapers, which is Rs 1300 crores.

A key reason that could be driving such “aspiration driven consumption” is the lowest price of Rs 10/- offered by Procter and Gamble India.

Pampers (P&G’s diaper) has the greatest share of the baby diaper market across India and has also been growing value share consistently. It is a clear sign that rural consumers are choosing to buy branded diapers for their babies”, said a P&G spokesperson.

On the other hand, sale of rural sanitary napkins grew by 74% over the last three years, with sales now at Rs 366 crores.

In this case too P&G’s ‘Whisper’, which is the market leader across India, including rural markets, has also been made available at the lowest priced SKU of Rs 25 for a pack of 8s, which turns out to be Rs 3/- per unit.

(source of all figures & quotes: The Times of India, Kolkata, Friday, March 29, 2013)

The important thing to notice here is the deep relationship between company’s strategy, product design, manufacturing practices and marketing. They are all in sync. Else market leadership isn’t possible.

It does not come as a big surprise when we understand strategy formulation process of P&G.

In the book Playing To Win the former Chairman and CEO of P&G, A. G. Lafley describes the strategy formulation process as answering five important questions, which are the following:

1. What is our aspiration?

2. Where do want to play?

3. How do we play to win?

4. What resources we must have?

5. What management systems must be in place?

Answering these questions did three things for P&G in India:

1. The company matched their aspiration to the aspiration of their consumers.

2. The different management functions that generally run in silos were aligned and were in sync.

3. Helped them to be a market leader in a very short time.

It possibly serves as a clear case where strategy and innovation work together.

While strategy provides the direction and the energy of a vision, innovative management paves the way for achieving the aspirations of both producer and their consumers. And these must be in sync with the aspiration of their customers. Else efforts meet with inauthentic constraints to make operation meaningless.

What do you think about it? Do you think this should be the way to go in such tough economic times?

Other references:

1. Happiest People Pursue the most Difficult Problems:  http://blogs.hbr.org/kanter/2013/04/to-find-happiness-at-work-tap.html

2. Playing to Win: A.G. Lafley, Roger L. Martin, Havard Business Review Press, 2013

Innovate Your Own Cure!

Few days back my friend Dan R.D (@ddrrnt is his twitter handle) and I were having an interesting dialog over Google hangout.

Dan is busy researching on many management issues like strategy, innovation, leadership, ethics and simulation games on leadership and management.

Our dialogue was more focused on innovation with a special emphasis on Rapidinnovation as I practice it.

Our dialog went somewhat like this:

Dan: Do you see manufacturing companies take up innovation as their first choice?

Me: No. In fact it is usually the last choice.

Dan: And why is that?

Me: This is because companies first try out tried, tested and proven methods to achieve their aspiration. In that process they do achieve quite a bit. The focus is generally on operational efficiency and cut costs. When they don’t achieve what they set out for then only they take up innovation to achieve their goal. They generally take up innovation when they find their ‘magic bullets’ not providing them the needed relief or results.

Dan: Why do you think innovation is needed in an organization?

Me: Two things. First, while strategy gives direction to an organization innovation drives it. Strategy and innovation go together. Second, all organisations are unique in their own individual ways. This is because design of all organizations differ. These small differences create the uniqueness for each company. Hence there seems to be no common magic formula or bullets to bite. Each organization has its own story and those stories can only be improved by people within the organization through their innovative efforts.

Dan: What does Rapidinnovation stand for? Do you mean to say innovations are done quickly.

Me: Rapidinnovation is an acronym, which stands for Reliability, Availability and Performance Improvement through Design Innovation.

I agree with you that innovations are also be done quickly and effectively. If you see it that way you may call it RAPID.

Dan: Say more.

Me: People are generally afraid of innovation. And rightfully so. This is because there is always a risk involved in innovation. So there must be a decision making criteria to achieve a balance between risks and rewards. Rewards must be very clear in their minds, especially in the minds of the management. These are in terms of improved reliability, availability and performance – something that help them earn more by doing something better with lesser effort and earning more revenue in the bargain rather than only focus on producing things cheaply by cutting costs. Also innovation should be such so as to reduce risks to the minimum while maximizing the benefits.

Dan: How is that achieved?

Me: This is achieved through design innovation which is a type of minimal intervention that maximizes return on the assets.

Dan: What is the central idea in design innovation?

Me: Anything that we find in a manufacturing organization or for that matter in any organization is a result of design. It might be machines, their layout, their maintenance systems, product design, management systems, strategy and organizational design. So we find design everywhere. However, these are designed separately and also managed separately. But then these are also made to work together. This is precisely where the problem arises. When all these systems work together they intensely interact with each other. Small imperfections within these interactions produce failures, problems or issues that prevent any organization from achieving what they want to achieve.

[Additional notes – interactions within an organization is like different elements communicating to each other like people to produce an overall symphony. If there are imperfections within such communication links the symphony either turns into noise or stops. Design innovation aims to eliminate those imperfections to correct and regain the energy flow of the symphony]

The job in Rapidinnovation is to find or identify these hidden imperfections and then eliminate them through innovation thereby releasing the trapped or clogged energy within the organization to flow again smoothly and more productively. Thereby you achieve more with less. However, such innovations must be minimally invasive so that it not only uses the least amount of effort, resources and time to execute but also minimizes risk to the minimum possible extent. It must however ensure long term benefits to the company in terms of ROA (return on assets). Else innovations are meaningless.

Dan: How do we find out these imperfections?

Me: Start from failures an organization experiences. Start anywhere and soon one gets to see the whole symphony.

Dan: What makes it difficult?

Me: Labeling and placing things in silos. It is usual for us to label things. It is useful but not when trying to solve a problem. The issue becomes more acute when we attempt to solve complex problems for which answers are neither obvious or clear. So for example when we see a quality problem we instantly label it as a quality problem. Or for instance we observe a problem in customer experience we quickly label it as say a HR issue. Then we appoint appropriate persons to look at the issues. What is missed in the process is the links and interactions. The quality problem might well be an issue connected to machines and their performance and the customer experience issue might well be connected to manufacturing issues. So labeling and silo approach make things difficult.

Dan: What is the process you generally adopt?

Me: It is mainly through dialogues with people. They tell about their pains, shortcomings, challenges, problems and you soon get to see the patterns within those stories and narratives. You then help them see or notice the underlying patterns that are affecting them and off they go on their own creating their own cures. Seeing the affected patterns is the important thing. Once seen the rest follows. However, there is one problem. If you don’t get to see the pattern in a blink you possibly miss the pattern for a long time. Whatever it might be — at the end of the day, there is really no magic formula to apply. People must innovate their own cure to get rid of organizational diseases and keep them at bay.

With this the dialogue ended.

Later Dan beautifully summarized the outcome of our dialogue in the following paragraph:

“The inclusive and participation-driven approach in which his inquiries spark the needed interactions which then trigger change in organisations is awesome, to say the least.  What I found most appealing, is that we’re not offering magic formulas or proven solutions, but helping people come up with their own solutions.  We’re nurturing the emergence of patterns which can then be woven into a shared narrative, a shared strategy, a shared objective.  The harmonizing effects reduce imperfections and increase flow, so that exchanges carry more value and are RAPID with increased potential for innovation. “

Outline of the 1st Week of “Emotional Entrepreneurship”.

Here is a course outline for the 1st week of a 12 week course on “Emotional Entrepreneurship” 

It is all about innovation and entrepreneurship.

12 week course on Emotional Entrepreneurship

The general activities for the first of 12 weeks of ‘Emotional Entrepreneurship’ course by TINI (The International Nemetics Institute) at Kolkata.

Goal: by the end of 12 weeks participants would be able to design and give shape to and channelize their feelings into a small business that enables them to live more happier and contended lives.

The general plan for the first week: 

a) Reflecting NatureLearning to relax and reduce anxiety – dialog, demonstration, workshop, practice, innovation in their design of business. (Addn: notes – health, breathing, thoughts).

Without a relaxed body and mind designing and running an enterprise is an useless thing. Record has it that two out of three business start up fail during the first three years of operation and barely one out of 10 survive the first ten years of operation.

b) Catching the snake – the art of attention — dialog, workshop, practice, innovation in their design of business.

Perception is critical to anything that we do. If we get it wrong it destroys us. It is like catching a poisonous snake. If we catch it by the tail it swings around and bites us to death with its poison (wrong perception).  However, if we are able to catch it by its head (that is get the right perspective) we are safe. It is the same with entrepreneurship. Wrong perceptions lead us to death of any entrepreneur. Fortunately, getting the right perspective is not difficult and is teachable. It is done through the art of ‘attention‘.

c) Listening to flower bloom – the art of listening — dialog, workshop, practice, innovation in their design of business.

Listening is the critical to survive and thrive in a small business. However, it is not easy in a noisy environment that we face. We have to listen to customers and we have to listen to our own voice. The art of listening lies in balancing the two voices and making sense of it.
d) Introduction to social media and its use (part 1) — Gmail, G+, G docs, pages.

Social media is a way to learn, be in contact with mentors and get instant feedback about our activities. It is also about letting the world know about our activities and develop a healthy self-esteem about what we are doing.  All these are important to keep, sustain and direct our efforts in the right direction.

e) Keeping a journal.

Keeping a journal is an introspective tool of what we are doing right or wrong with every passing day. A well recorded journal tells us whether we are progressing or deteriorating as days go by. It is a sort of hard trend of our own happiness, health, inner growth that guides us and provides cues

Stay tuned for the plan for the 2nd week.