Design Studio Website
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Cement Innovation
Cement companies adopt innovative cost-cutting measures
by Anil Sasi

FOR cement companies innovation may be the key to cost competitiveness. Hence, larger cement companies are seen to be shifting to a number of innovative cost-cutting measures to enhance bottomlines.

Bypassing the dealers to sell cement directly to the customer
--dealer-free route to supply to bulk consumers, including builders and infrastructure companies to save on the dealer margin
--customers encouraged to contact the cement companies directly with their requirements, following which the manufacturer delivers the cement to their doorsteps

Shifting from the traditional rail-road option to cheaper sea transportation to target distant markets
--saving on logistics expenses
--coastal transportation route, rather than rail or road
--high capacity Volvo trucks for road transportation to cut down on costs

Using crushed sugarcane for meeting fuel requirements.
--to bring down energy costs, most of the cement companies have already shifted entirely to captive power stations
--using a variety of fuels, including pet coke and lignite
Cement companies are also tracking the international polypropylene prices to strike deals with manufacturers of polypropylene bags, used as packaging material in the country

(Source: Hindu Business Line here.)
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/30/2004 07:31:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Demonstrate Innovation
"People usually think of innovation as technology," but that's not the only way to demonstrate innovation. They can show innovation by producing an existing product or service in a new way or doing something creative with an old kind of business."

(Source: The Journal Times here.)

posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/30/2004 12:31:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
How To Innovate
One of the most memorable case studies I came across on Japanese Management was the case of the empty soap box, which happened in one of Japan's biggest cosmetics companies. The company received a complaint that a consumer had bought a soap box that was empty. Immediately the authorities isolated the problem to the assembly line which transported all the packaged boxes of soap to the delivery department. For some reason, one soap box went through the assembly line empty. Management asked its engineers to solve the problem. Post-haste, the engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-resolutionmonitors manned by two people to watch all the soap boxes that passed through the line to make sure they were not empty. No doubt, they worked hard
and they worked fast but they spent a whoopee amount to do so. But when a rank-and-file employee in a small company was posed with the same problem, did not get into complications of X-rays, etc but instead came out with another solution.

He bought a strong industrial electric fanand pointed it at the assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each soap box passed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line. Moral of the story: always look for simple & effective solutions. Devise the simplest possible solution that solves the problem :-)So, learn to focus on solutions not on problems. And hence "Innovate".
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/30/2004 12:18:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Clayton Christensen - Innovation Day 3
Clayton Christensen - Innovation Day 3
Ten Types of Innovation - Category 2


Innovation type 3: Enabling Process

Description of Type: How you support the company's core processes and workers
How do you innovate in this type: Innovation typically attracts talent to the organization and helps people do their work faster, more easily, more efficiently and more profitably.
Business example: Starbucks can deliver its profitable store/coffee experience to customers because it offers better-than-market compensation and employment benefits to its store workers - usually part-time, educated, professional and responsive people.

Innovation type 4: Core Processes

Description of Type: How you create and add value to your offerings
How do you innovate in this type: Innovation typically involves a dramatic change in "business as usual" that delivers blistering speed-to-market, enables the enterprise to quickly allocate or reallocate resources around big new opportunities, enables rapid prototyping and testing and/or realizes market-leading margins due to new cost-saving processes.
Business Example: Wal-Mart continues to grow profitably through core process innovations such as real-time inventory management systems, aggressive volume/pricing/delivery contracts with merchandise providers and systems that give storage managers the ability to identify changing buyer behaviors and respond quickly with new pricing and merchandising configurations.

day 2 | day 4
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/30/2004 12:17:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Ability to Innovate
"The competitiveness of a business lies in its ability to innovate and improve itself, Lin Hsin-i, a senior adviser to the president said yesterday in Kaohsiung.

Speaking at a seminar organized by the Ketagelan Institute in Kaohsiung, Lin attributed the current plight of Taiwan businesses - closures and relocations to China - to aweakening of competitiveness.

He said many chief executive officers are reluctant to institute changes or examine their businesses and make needed improvements, because doing so would be a denial of the past. However, these steps are vital for keeping a company viable since there is not a single solution that can cope with the ever-changing market and situations that are liable to shift without notice."

(Source: E-Taiwan News here.)

posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/29/2004 02:58:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Clayton Christensen - Innovation Day 2
Clayton Christensen - Innovation Day 2
Ten Types of Innovation - Category 1


Innovation type 1: Business Model

Description of Type: How you make money
How do you innovate in this type: By fundamentally reconsidering how the company and its offerings are structured to obtain revenue.
Business example: DELL revolutionized the personal computer business model by collecting money before the consumer's PC was even assembled and shipped (resulting in net positive working capital of seven to eight days)

Innovation type 2: Networks and Alliances

Description of Type: How you join forces with other companies for mutual benefit
How do you innovate in this type: No company can or should do everything by itself. Networks provide a way for companies to leverage each other's offerings, customers and capabilities.
Business Example: Consumer goods company Sara Lee realzed that its core competencies were in consumer insight, brand management, marketing and distribution. Thus it divested itself of a majority of it manufacturing operations and formed alliances with manufacturing and supply chain partners.

day 1 | day 3
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/29/2004 02:54:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Cognos Innovation Center
Cognos, the world leader in business intelligence (BI) and corporate performance management, today at Cognos Forum 2004 announced the formation of the Cognos Innovation Center for Performance Management(TM). The Innovation Center has been created to advance the understanding of proven planning and performance management techniques, technologies, and practices. Cognos also announced that Accenture is a founding member of the Innovation Center.

Staffed by experts in planning, management, and technology, the Innovation Center partners with Cognos customers, academics, industry leaders, and others seeking to accelerate adoption, reduce risk, and maximize the impact of technology-enabled performance management practices. By bringing customers and prospects into regular contact with peers, thought leaders, and Cognos experts, the Innovation Center facilitates the discovery and sustainable application of innovative and proven planning and performance management practices that will help companies achieve their business goals to increase profitability, gain competitive agility and achieve sustainable growth.

To visit the Center go here.

(Source: Yahoo! News here.)
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/29/2004 02:47:00 AM   2 comments  --- Google It! ---
Monday, June 28, 2004
Clayton Christensen - Innovation Day 1
Clayton Christensen - Innovation Day 1
Understanding the basics of Disruptive Innovation.

1. Technology just keeps getting better: In every market, technology advances and improves - driven by a set of behavioral, economic, regulatory and institutional factors. Companies take advantage of this by offering better products at higher prices and by listening to and targeting mainstream and high-end users.

2. Customers will use a technology, up to a point: Technological progress inevitably reaches a point where it is far above what customers actually need and use.

3. Overshooting customer needs enables disruption: When the level of technological progress is far above what customers actually need and can use, the phenomena of overshooting creates the opportunity for an upstart to come in with something that's cheaper, simpler and good enough for a set of customers who don't need the advanced technology. Once the entrant carves out a piece of the market on the low end, they improve the "good enough" product, march upstream and can take a significant piece of market share from incumbents.

4. But it's not really about the technology: It's about the business model. Small, nimble, disruptive firms can succeed with business models that are unattractive to incumbents. If an incumbent requires a 40% margin on a product in order to support its operations and remain profitable, would they really encourage a product that might only have a 20% return? Whereas, for an upstart, that 20% might make them extremely profitable.
day 2
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/28/2004 09:18:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Clayton Christensen - 5 Innovation Days
Starting today, for the coming five days, I will be posting excerpts from an article by Clayton Christen called "Innovation Basics", which relates primarily to disruptive innovations - it also includes a brief description of Ten Types of Innovation.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/28/2004 09:17:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Activities of Innovation Management
The following are the activities that constitute Innovation Management:

1. Technological Innovation: This refers to the Integration between technologies and the product-markets of the firm and emphasises the importance of satisfying the customer with the innovations in any firm. In other words, technology development (production and administration) needs to be integrated with product development also at the strategic level.

2. The Process of Innovation: By this is meant the cross-functional (business) process of activities that create innovations across the departments of the firm. Obviously, no one department is responsible for innovation and it is, thus, necessary to see how departments together create innovations.

3. Strategic Technology Planning: This refers to the planning of techology and/or competence projects with the aim of maintaining a balanced portfolio of technologies and/or competencies.

4. Organizational Change: Innovation is closely related to organizational change. No matter how small or large the innovation, it will affect the organization with needs for new knowledge, new markets, new employees and so on. Thus it is difficult to speak of innovation without considering organizational change.

5. Business Development: Of course innovation should be seen as a means for creating new and improved business for the company. That is innovation can both drive and be driven by business development as the second very critical contextual element of innovation management.

(Source: "Situations for Innovation Management: towards a contingency model" by Anders Drejer, which appeared in the European Journal of Innovation Management, Volume 5 - Number 1 - 2002)
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/28/2004 09:17:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Sunday, June 27, 2004
Mindset Of An Innovator
10 Rules for Reinventing a Business

1.   Set unreasonable expectations.
2.   Stretch the business definition.
3.   Create a cause, not a business.
4.   Listen to new voices.
5.   Create an open market for new ideas.
6.   Offer an open market for capital. (Take a portfolio approach to investment in business concepts; not every investment will work, but this cannot be predicted.)
7.   Open up the market for talent.
8.   Lower the risks of experimentation.
9.   Divide and conquer. (Do not expect new business units to operate the same way that older, established units do.)
10.  Reward the innovators.

(SOURCE: Leading the Revolution, Gary Hamel, Harvard Business School Press)
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/27/2004 10:53:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
WatchThatPage - Make your own newsletter!

WatchThatPage is a service that enables you to automatically collect new information from your favorite pages on the Internet. You select which pages to monitor, and WatchThatPage will find which pages have changed, and collect all the new content for you. The new information is presented to you in an email and/or a personal web page. You can specify when the changes will be collected, so they are fresh when you want to read them. The service is free!

So if you want my complete posts in your inbox instead of the one sentence that Bloglet offers, all you have to do is register on WatchThatPage and in your list of pages to track, add this URL "". Whenever I post something new or make any change to the page, you will get a mail with the complete text. since WatchThatPage does not e-mail you the pictures, the size of the newsletter will be itsy!

You can also track other blogs and websites with this service.
I have also added a "WatchMe" Button just below the "Innovation Picture of the Week" for those who miss this post!

I can vouch for the service as I have been using it for the last two years!
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/27/2004 05:11:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Innovation needs a culture that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation.

Entrepreneurs have the ability to take underperforming assets and make them perform and innovation itself is the bedrock of wealth creation.
In a narrow context - that of radical innovation), innovation can be defined as applying technology to something that is completely new, then marketing it successfully. Having a good idea is not enough, innovation is only real when someone pays for it, when you have turned the idea into something that you can make and sell.

--Create an environment that is not based on hierarchies, where the doors are open to anyone with a contribution to make.
--Have a Culture of integrity; if you do not have that, then you will not have a business in the long run.
--Have a good team of people. No single individual can ever really build and run a business. Success depends on the team working cohesively towards the same, well understood goal.

--A lot of innovation fails because of sloppy execution, lack of proper analysis or planning, or general management incompetence, not because of the idea itself. There needs to be a commitment to driving the business forward. There is a big gap between ideas and execution, and it is in the execution where most ventures fail.
--It is not good enough to just have a potentially big market. You have to be able to access it. You have to have specific goals and strategies to achieve those targets. And you need a sense of urgency.
--Getting realistic feedback is important for any manager. You always hear the good news pretty quickly but it is far more important that you get the bad news and that you get it early and do something about it. Much like IDEO's culture of fail-first-faster to succeed sooner.
--In the long run, the only way a business can survive is through continual improvement in productivity and through innovation. The way to improve productivity is by applying technology to what you already do. Innovation is about turning ideas into something that you can make and market.
--Innovation needs to be exciting and intriguing, but it also has to pay the rent.

1. The right culture: Encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
2. Profitable innovation: Apply technology to something new, and market it aggressively.
3. Execute well: Get innovation processes right at the start of a project.
4. Develop a sense of urgency: Make things happen quickly.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/27/2004 04:24:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Sprinters Example
Those of you read my Sprinters and Milers post and liked it, will also like this:

In April 2004, someone called attention to the fact something was a little odd about the care instruction tags found on backpacks and laptop cases produced by manufacturer TOM BIHN of Port Angeles, Washington.
Specifically, what was unusual was that the English and French statements on those tags didn't quite match - while both versions included the usual admonitions not to use bleach, not to machine dry, and not to iron the bags, the French-language version included an extra phrase: "NOUS SOMMES DESOLES QUE NOTRE PRESIDENT SOIT UN IDIOT. NOUS N'AVONS PAS VOTE POUR LUI." Roughly translated, this statement reads in English as: "We're sorry our president is an idiot. We didn't vote for him."

Tom Bihn, president of the eponymous company, said he doesn't know which of his 10 employees are responsible. "They know my French is so bad they could sneak it past me," he said. But he doesn't appear to be too determined to root out the guilty party and said he's "not opposed to the sentiments" about Mr. Bush.

"We haven't looked really hard to find out who did it because it's good for us. When we find them, we'll give them a raise," said Mr. Bihn, who insists the "president" mentioned on the tag is a reference to himself as the company's president and not to Mr. Bush.

The tag has "hit a resonating chord" all over the world, including France, where some customers believe the reference is to their president, Jacques Chirac. "People out there think a number of presidents are idiots," said Mr. Bihn. "It's a universal message."

For the complete story, go
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/27/2004 03:01:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Saturday, June 26, 2004
Design Innovation

Click on the collage for a larger view.
BusinessWeek for the latest Design Awards PhotoEssay.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/26/2004 08:30:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Spider Man - Innovating?!

Gotham Comics
This is Spider-Man from India! Wearing the "dhoti" too!
Who says Innovation is restricted to Conference Rooms of Corporate Houses?
If our Comic Book Hero can do it - so can we!
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/26/2004 01:39:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Where's The Real Innovation?
Electronic News for the complete story.

By Ed Sperling -- Electronic News, 6/25/2004
Innovation and experimentation are beginning to explode in the electronics industry, in part driven by the upturn and the relative health of most companies in this market.

This should come as no surprise, but during the downturn the stated rule of thumb was that innovation increases when times are tough. Where real innovation did occur during the downturn was on the business side of the house, where the advance of technology suddenly collided with the ability to pay for it.

First and foremost, consortiums and partnerships are expanding at an unprecedented pace. There are several reasons for this. Technology simply has become too expensive to go it alone, and competition is rarely a threat in embryonic technology areas where markets have to be developed. It's also far less risky to go after a new technology when you're splitting the costs of development, which could run many millions of dollars. And the more resources thrown at a problem and the more different perspectives, the more innovative the final product can be. This is particularly true on a global scale, where entirely different perspectives of examining a problem can create unusual solutions.

Second, companies are now beginning to lead with business solutions to technology problems for their customers rather than technology solutions to business problems.

Finally, and perhaps more subtly, companies are looking at business models that defray the costs of development. That includes building chips from merchant intellectual property and defraying the up-front development cost by paying royalties after the fact.

Innovative technology will always drive profits, but innovative business strategies are about to become a far more integral part of those technology advances.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/26/2004 01:14:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Creativity Tool (beta)
Do visit here to check out "Watizit". I tried it out myself and although it is ideally suited for "tangible" creativity issues, I checked it out for an "intangibles" problem and it worked out just fine.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/26/2004 01:05:00 AM   1 comments  --- Google It! ---
"Extreme Makeover" for Innovation!
The complete article on Boxes And Arrows by by Robert Ouellette

There is something disturbingly irresistible about the series Extreme Makeover. Watching someone intent on changing their life by changing their skin is, well, like watching an accident in slow motion. The outcome is often going to be bad but we become all-toowilling witnesses to the spectacle before us.

Extreme Makeover is an unlikely place to look for useful insights into corporate innovation. Even the fat, awkward, and, let's face it, hideous bubble-era companies were not going to improve their questionable bottom lines with a nose job, liposuction, and tummy-tuck. In spite of that, the show can offer some useful lessons when trying to understand the dynamics of innovation. Why do we need new lessons? Technology companies that died in the market crash left a legacy that still bloats the collective corporate body of today's R&D driven enterprises.

Consultants are to innovation what surgeons are to beauty. Both perform best when the patient already has good bones and is in robust health. When the client is already 90 percent complete and only needs just a few nips and tucks to bring out their existing beauty, it's easy to be a creative genius. That is why many innovation managers can pull out their "cut first and get fit later" scalpel, slice, stitch, and leave a good-looking reference behind. In most real world cases though, effective innovation practices are not easily prescribed, especially when used on a corporate body that is innovation anorexic.

What are the "weird" anti-lessons, if I can borrow from innovation theorist Robert Sutton, we can learn from Extreme Innovation Makeover and apply to your company with or without innovation consultants? First, understand that lessons are not rules. Rules are prescriptive. They assume a complete understanding of the organism and every input and reaction that affects it. R&D based companies defy this kind of Fordian thinking. In fact, the practice of innovation is more like a process of obliquity. You get to where you want to go by, in effect, walking away from your destination.

Innovation Extreme Makeover Lessons

1: Fitness precedes beauty.
Healthy bodies are more receptive to beautification than are unhealthy ones.
(Innovation evolves from sound business practices, good leadership, talented staff, and strong interpersonal relationships-get fit first then aspire to create innovative products.)

2: Beauty is a subjective measure.
Some people think Ivana Trump is beautiful. Ford thought the Edsel was a beautiful car. What is beautiful to one person can sometimes be ugly to another.
(Innovation to one company is chaos to another-effective innovation practices are organization and environment specific. Be sure that your new innovation look fits your company's personality.)

3: Aspiring to beauty can be fatal, be prepared.
As the recent plastic surgery related death of Cinar Entertainment co-founder Micheline Charest illustrates, even the rich and powerful are, after all, only mortal.
(Be careful what you wish for, the wrong kind of innovation can destabilize and even kill your company. Ask Enron.)

For details to the "Lessons" go here.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/26/2004 12:56:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Innovation Question Areas
1. Market-Driven Insights
2. R&D Pipeline Management
3. Internal Perceptions
4. Structure/Processes/Systems
5. Customization of (4). according to Organizational Needs
6. Target Focus
7. Willingness and Ability
8. Utilizing Internal Best Practices
9. Innovation Process Output
10. Human Resources
11. Metrics
12. Ideas Network
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/26/2004 12:45:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Friday, June 25, 2004
Common Sense Entrepreneurialism
Source: FastCompany Blog

There's nothing quite as refreshing as seeing someone put a good idea to work. I was flipping through Time Out NY this morning and stumbled upon an article on Mobile Mobile, a new service started by a pair of lovers who were sick of stunted conversations that resulted from their cell phones running out of juice. Between sleepovers at each other's apartments and working late nights, they never had time to recharge. In New York, a city where one's apartment functions more like a rest stop than a home, they figured there were countless other suffering the same cell phone paralysis.

The obvious conclusion: create a "cell-phone-charging-cart" in Union Square, a hub for New York's busiest social butterflies. Will scenesters be willing to pay 50 cents a minute to breathe life back into a useless hunk of metal? If they want to meet up with their friends at that exclusive loft party in Tribeca, they just might. Either way, cheers to Krista Winters and Matt Chick for taking the risk.

Have you recently been impressed by other examples of common sense entrepreneurialism?
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/25/2004 03:42:00 AM   1 comments  --- Google It! ---
GE Renews its Commitment to Innovation
Source: Innovation Tools Weblog

The July 2004 issue of Business 2.0 magazine.

"In a sense, Immelt has concluded that to power his $134 billion goliath forward, his managers must view GE not so much as a collection of huge, multibillion-dollar businesses but as a vast network of entrepreneurial, Silicon Valley-style - or better still, Edison-style - tech startups. He has ordered them to grab the scientific lead on the far technological frontiers of markets from clean energy to medical diagnostics to nanotech to security to jet-propulsion systems. And he wants to harness that revved-up innovation metabolism to a more highly developed and systematic marketing effort than GE has marshaled in many years, if ever.

The result, Immelt believes, will be a GE that looks like an entirely different company - more entrepreneurial, more science-based, and generating much more growth from its own internal operations than by simply acquiring other companies. 'Constant reinvention,' Immelt says, 'is the central necessity at GE.'"

The article highlights four major strategies that GE is employing to accomplish this major transformation:

1. Chase big change: GE is targeting markets undergoing transformation, such as energy, healthcare, transportation and security for potential billion-dollar scores.

2. Repurpose everything: GE managers have been ordered to find new markets for existing products; modifying medical imaging technology to monitor industrial systems, for example, is expected to bring in $1 billion in 2006.

3. Sell like crazy: Immelt created the post of chief marketing officer, named marketing executives for each of GE's 11 major divisions, and added 5,000 new salespeople.

4. Unleash the mad scientists: Immelt reinvigorated the famed House of Magic research center, hiring hundreds of new scientists to dream up groundbreaking innovations.

Under the leadership of Jack Welch, GE grew primarily through acquisitions. Immelt is committed to leverage the opportunities for growth and innovation that exist within each of its divisions and core technologies, while still pursuing acquisitions on a limited basis.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/25/2004 03:30:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Sprinters and Milers
Excerpt from The Innovation Paradox by Richard Farson and Ralph Keyes.

"We can't expect all employees to be innovative and wouldn't want them to be. Armies need soldiers as well as scouts. What we can do is try to keep those who aren't innovative out of the way of those who are.

Organizations harbor, and need both types of employees. Most working environments include both Sprinters and Milers. (At Microsoft they are called Pioneers and Settlers.)

One innovates, the other consolidates. Effective managers want both on their team, just not in the same position. Milers are absolutely essential for the long-term health and stability of any organization. They pace themselves, take the long view, and provide a steady hand on the tiller of their boats. Established companies are the natural habitat of Milers.

Sprinters on the other hand, are any organization's main source of innovation. The tried and true bores them. Change excites them. Miler-oriented companies need to accomodate sprinters. In a constantly changing economy, their presence has become, paradoxically, essential for long-term organizational health.

Accommodating sprinters goes well beyond allowing them to wear T-Shirts to work and keep cats in their cubicles. By themselves, pay raises and perks are virtually worthless to novelty seekers. Dire warnings that startups might fail are no more effective with those who find this prospect intriguing than is telling teenagers that loud music could damage their hearing. Both know; neither cares. Better to offer sprinters an opportunity to make more money with more risk, accept their surreptitious activities, allow them to make decisions based on incomplete information, without having to back up every proposal with detailed research, and let them run with promising, if uncertain, ideas. In other word, behave entrepreneurially within a bureaucracy. A startup mentality can be encouraged within existing organizations by creating small semiautonomous operations buffered from inevitable attempts at sabotage by Milers.

Such ventures may not attract actual pirates, but they will appeal to privateers who like to take chances as long as they have the safety net of an established company's resources. That is a valuable type of an employee to have, but not always an affable one. Great achievers seldom are."
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/24/2004 08:22:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Innovation Forum : FORTUNE
"This conference will be an extraordinary opportunity to explore the idea of company innovation in the presence of some of the most dynamic thinkers and practitioners in the field. We'll be taking an in-depth look at innovative corporations from three perspectives:

1. View from the top: You'll have an opportunity to find out how CEOs see their role in stimulating innovation, managing change, and inspiring and motivating their employees.
2. Lessons from the front lines: You'll be able to learn from the experiences of those innovators who have put new approaches to marketing, products, technology and processes into practice.
3. The big picture: You'll get insights into issues beyond our immediate control-from international and national policies to the forces of globalization, including offshoring-that may shape the landscape of innovation in the near term."

Check out the details here. Thanks to the Innovation Tools Weblog by Chuck Frey for the lead!
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/24/2004 08:08:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Innovation in Iraq

When a new CEO takes charge, often at the top of the agenda is a new logo. What better way to project the enterprise's newly redirected mission, not to mention the authority of the new regime?

This is Iraq's new Flag. I got the photograph from DesignObserver. Link to the direct article here.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/24/2004 07:59:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Innovation and IDEO
For the complete original article on The Independent go here. An edited excerpt follows:

All businesses need fresh ideas to stay competitive.
by Gareth Chadwick

Ideas and innovation are fundamental to a successful economy.
They provide growth and the dynamism to keep the commercial engine racing onwards and upwards.
They are regarded as the cornerstone of economic development.

Businesses now have to:
--innovate more quickly,
--generate ideas more regularly and
--commercialize them more effectively.

Teaching people how to use their brains in order to generate more ideas is a question for philosophers and psychologists, not business people. But just because the mental process of creating an idea can't be taught, it doesn't mean that the whole process of innovation has to be left in the lap of gods.

Alan South, European head at innovation consultants IDEO in London, highlights three stages in the process of generating ideas and turning them into viable projects. By managing the different stages, he suggests that enterprises can better stimulate and encourage new ideas and create a commercial climate in which innovation can flourish.

Insights: the fuel for innovation as they spark off the creative process and form the context out of which ideas are generated.

Using that insight to actually generate ideas: thinking creatively about what you want to achieve and coming up with all sorts of different ways of trying to achieve it, most of which will be discarded at a later stage, but some of which will work.

Getting an idea through an organisation: through various investment gateways and successfully out into the market.

Observe and empathise with the customers and end-users.
Where are the problems that need solving.
Where is the creative energy best applied.
Not just coming up with the solutions, but working out what needs to be addressed.

Here, smaller business have an advantage:
--closer to their customers,
--have fewer cutomers and
--less complex in terms of internal organisation.
But on the other hand, they have less room for risk.

Creating the right environment for innovation is a means of stimulating the flow of ideas. It could literally be changing the physical office environment in order to stimulate more innovative thinking, or it could be changing the cultural environment in which people work to encourage them to be more creative.

Dedicated project rooms: one method of stimulating creativity. Rather than having project material in binders and boxes, filed away by people's desks, by creating an environment where people can come and work on the project with all the information and pictures and ideas relating to it all around them, they will be more easily inspired to come up with new thinking.

However, the idea is only a small part of the innovation process. Equally crucial is the ability to commercialise the idea.

Most business failures are not due to a lack of ideas, but due to a failure in the commercialisation and implementation of those ideas. Knowing how to commercialise an idea means:
--researching the market,
--the right pricing strategy,
--the right team and
--thorough testing and prototyping of the idea before it ever gets to market.

This is one of the main focuses of all IDEO projects. It is an incredibly important part of the process of getting ideas out of the door. By visualising and prototyping a project, it comes to life and helps people buy into it. A second issue is that the final quality of a product or service is directly proportional to the quality of the approach to prototyping.

Getting the right team involved can also make or break the commercialisation of an idea. There needs to be a level of awareness that once it has been developed to a certain stage, a project may be best commercialised by a different team to the one which initiated it.

Above all, it is about being prepared to fail. Encouraging creativity means accepting that not all the ideas will work, but criticising them if they don't is a sure way of discouraging future innovation.

The article further goes on to mention the successful business launch of Kitchen Gurus.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/23/2004 10:21:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
The ASIDE Blog Listed on "Innovation Watch"
The ASIDE Consulting Blog is now listed on the Innovation Watch Weblog listing page.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/23/2004 06:19:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Introduce Innovation and Creativity in Your Business
I found this list on the MiddleEast Business Resource: AME Info here.

1. Turn dissatisfaction with an existing product or service into a new idea for a product.
2. Ask your customers or potential customers what they do and don't want.
3. Be restless, outward looking and unreasonable.
4. Do not let the cynics stop you, especially those who 'know' why your idea will not work.
5. Capitalise on your inexperience by thinking without constraints and out of the box.
6. Be passionate and have faith in your product/service, even if you have no demonstrable track record or experience.
7. Let threats to your business drive your innovation. Convert fear of a competitive product or service into an idea for a new, superior product or service of your own.
8. Look beyond customers and suppliers and use the knowledge available in universities and research institutions to help you innovate.
9. Utilise business networks to exchange ideas with other businesses and find potential partners.
10. Learn to expect failure as part of the course since people typically fail their way to success.

posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/23/2004 05:02:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
The Hot Button
The "Innovation HOT BUTTON" is up and running. You will find it at the top right-hand side. This month the button will take you to the "Innovation 2004" project on Thinksmart. The project aims at getting the Innovation Fundamentals right.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/23/2004 02:49:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Creativity Barriers
For the complete, original article by Mary E. Corcoran on the Kansas City website, go here. An edited excerpt follows:
Identify and tackle the barriers to your creativity

When one feels as creative as a blank sheet of paper and every project appears overwhelming or boring, it isn't simple boredom, but an absence of creative thought. You're not productive, and, instead of relishing your downtime, you feel guilty and mildly irritated.

The article talks about three barriers to creativity

--learning barriers,
--perceptual barriers and
--cultural barriers.

Learning barriers involve prior learning and habit. Learning barriers keep your thinking to correct responses, routines and behaviors.
Perceptual barriers, create the reverse of flexible, innovative thinking. Flexibility allows you to come up with new and different ideas.
Cultural barriers are related to social influence, expectations and pressures for conformity. Cultural barriers keep our habits locked into prescribed roles for fear of looking odd.

A factor related to creativity is insatiable curiosity. If you are stuck on a problem, find more information and follow the often ambiguous tie-ins of that information. The willingness to balance ambiguity and a somewhat fuzzy solution are the keys to creativity.
Another key factor in creativity is the ability to make mistakes and learn new ideas from them.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/23/2004 02:43:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
New Things on the Blog
I have recently added a new column on the left side of the posts. It is light yellow in color and is called "My Favorite Links". It is right under the "Previous Posts" column. It contains links to other Innovation Blogs and websites, which I visit frequently and are really good on content if you are seriously interested in Innovation and Creativity.

I will soon be putting up a "Hot Button", which will provide a link to the best thing that has happened in the field of Innovation. Whenever something new comes up, the link will be updated and a small description added. Currently the hot button will direct you to the "Innovation 2004" Project.

Also, the "Observation" column on the top right-hand side is now called "Innovative Ideas" and whenever I update the column in the future, I will also make a small post for the same for the benefit of subscribers to the blog.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/23/2004 12:43:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Innovation and What Customers Want
Innovation is all about knowing what the customers want.

Innovation is all about identifying with community needs.
Companies are deemed to be innovative if they follow the needs of their customers.
A business is unlikely to be sustainable unless it has an excellent understanding of why the community needs it in the first place. Innovations that are not about improving how a business serves its customers are pointless. Innovation comes from understanding your customer base and putting positive pressure on your organisation to think about where customer needs are moving. If you are not aligned with customers and their needs, then you start heading into left field, which has no value because you end up with products no one wants.

--Conduct surveys of customers on a regular basis.
--Pay attention to letters from customers.
--Make sure people in the company think about what the company's role is in understanding the community's needs and understand that role. Once the purpose is understood, then everything starts to line up.

1. Know your customers: Innovation is pointless if you do not know what people want.
2. Anticipate their needs: Align innovation programs with client desires.
3. Know your own purpose: Don't let innovation go "left field".
4. Streamline existing processes: Innovate what you do now to make it better.

posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/22/2004 09:06:00 PM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Innovation Picture of The Week: Tarot?
The Innovation Picture Technique is a way of shifting your point of view. The notion behind it is that in trying to solve a problem you will have well-trodden paths, which you regularly follow and those paths will lead to a particular set of solutions. Problems which you find hard to solve are likely to be ones, which do not work well with this set of solutions. If you can move your thinking to a totally different place, then you are more likely to come up with a solution. To use the technique - look at the picture. Scribble some associations you think of - anything, however bizzare. Look at the picture as a whole and in bits. Use these associations to generate ideas around your original problem. Don't try to make the ideas you generate sensible or workable. You can move them towards practical solutions at a later stage. This technique is about moving away from your current mind set more than moving to a solution.

This week's "Innovation Picture" is a combination of various symbols and pictures.
What each picture/symbol represents - is upto you. Taking off from the "Random Picture Technique", the point is to get you thinking away from the "well-trodden path".

Break down the picture into parts. What does each part mean to you? How does each part represent the current problem/situation at hand? Write down whatever comes to your mind about the picture - it doesn't have to make sense. In fact, it does not have to be related to the problem in your head at all. Just write down what comes to your mind. The associations cane be made later. This time, I'll define a minimum number of steps.

1. Look at the picture.

2. Write down a minimum of 10 words, which describe the picture (maximum could be anything, the more the merrier!).
-- You could ask yourself questions like "What does this remind me of?"
-- "What is this?"
-- "What place is this from?"
-- "Which planet is this from?"
-- It could be a list of things, animals, places, objects, anything that the picture reminds you of.
-- There are no right or wrong answers.

3. Now, describe each word that you have listed.
-- Literally, put adjectives before the words that you have come up with.
-- For example, in this particular picture, one of the symbols is supposed to be of fire.
-- Describe "fire" - hot, red, in this picture it is black and any other "adjectives", which can qualify the words.
-- The adjectives need not necessarily present a fact - you could also qualify the fire as "digital" - wierder the better.
-- Dig out atleast five adjectives per word/symbol/object.

4. Now think.
-- Using the adjectives that you have generated, how can each one be fitted with the current problem at hand?
-- For example, using the fire adjective "digital", what aspect of the current problem can be digitized? Where can you exploit technology to give you an answer?

One more thing. If you want a short report and some analysis and questions generated from my side, e-mail a short description of the problem, list the elements involved and also the words/thoughts that you have generated using the picture. Try it once and if you like it and want more personalized attention, we could work out something. I could also e-mail a detailed list of steps to follow to help you to get better results using the above technique.

next picture | previous picture
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/22/2004 11:34:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Innovation Picture of The Week: Palashindeepink
The Innovation Picture this week also has a Random Word = Palashindeepink. Obviously since it is a random word, it doesn't mean anything,unless you want it to. So look at the picture and write down what it brings to your mind - the first thought - what does it look like?
And then the word.

--What do you think the word means?
--Break it down.
--What does each derived word mean - with reference to the current problem in your mind.
--Relate the complete word and each derived word to your current problem.
--Take each letter of the word.
--Make a different word starting with each letter.
--Keep in mind all the time - reference to the current problem at hand.

next picture previous picture
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/22/2004 11:32:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Innovation Picture of The Week: Sun From Another Galaxy
A star in the night sky.
No? Then, a sun belonging to another solar system?
No? Then, a sun surrounded by other, smaller stars?

What does this picture signify to you?
Does it give you the feeling of an oasis in the middle of a hot, arid desert (much like well-handled innovation is for an organization fighting for survival)? A new lease on life!!

Are the small yellow circles like ideas in your head? That revolve around a central theme but you are not really sure how and where they fit?
Do you have a problem in your mind and many alternate solutions? Take small pieces of paper (colored) equal to the number of solutions you have. Write down one solution on each piece of paper. Now, fold the paper pieces and hide them in and around your workspace / play area / bathroom. Whenever you visit the hiding place the next time (each paper piece has a different hiding place), take out the piece of paper that you first recall and read what it says. Now (although you must have done this already) think of how this will make it easier for you to solve the problem. similarly, when you are around the next time, take out another hidden paper and repeat for the remaining solutions. By the time you are finished, you'll know what you have to do.

Do you think better when you are moving? The orange sun in the picture conveys a sense of motion. When you are travelling, walking down to office, talking a morning stroll, sitting on a swing, dancing, exercising, walking the dog, basically whenever you are moving, observe how you think. Whenever you are most relaxed is the time when the probability of an idea occuring to you is the highest.

What does this picture remind you of?

next picture previous picture
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/22/2004 11:30:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Innovation Picture of The Week: The FishTank
What do you see here?
What does the black color remind you of?
What about the three fish?
And the number three?
The hand that you it holding something away from your eyes or is it showing you all it the hand palm down, or you cannot see the palm?
Are you "boxed in" with your ideas, like the blue box within the green?
Or could the green rectangular ring signify leveraging your ideas and improving upon them?
Can the green rectangular ring represent knowledge and information and ideas from colleagues, suppliers, customers, employees, family, friends?

Would such colors...the green and the blue...increase your creativity in some way?
A "Green shirt day" when you would borrow ideas from nature, read peculiarities of one animal/organism and borrow ideas from there for your product / customer services enhancement program / supplier relationships / an approach or procedure.
A "Blue shirt day" when you would take a stroll while coming to office / after lunch / while leaving office and look up at the sky.
Maybe a cloud's shape could give you an idea about your current challenges!

What do YOU see?

next picture previous picture
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/22/2004 11:27:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Innovation Picture of The Week: CONCEPT
Think of Innovation.

When you see this photograph and if you want to make a connection with Innovation, as a concept, or a problem about a physical product that you have been thinking of, what comes to your mind?

- For instance the color green. What thoughts does that evoke? Green....can novices innovate? If a newbie is hired, is he or she more likely to innovate or is an expert more likely to innovate?
- Or the fact that there are three windows in the picture? Right now, what three things do you think are the most important for someone to innovate?
- Or that there are blinds on all the windows? What is the one major blind spot in your innovative mind or project?
What else do you notice and what does it remind you of?

next picture
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/22/2004 11:20:00 AM   1 comments  --- Google It! ---
Monday, June 21, 2004
Would You Have Invested?
All the eleven Microsoft founders, way back in 1978.
Top row: Steve Wood (left), Bob Wallace, Jim Lane. Middle row: Bob O'Rear, Bob Greenberg, Marc McDonald, Gordon Letwin. Bottom row: Bill Gates, Andrea Lewis, Marla Wood, Paul Allen. December 7, 1978.
(With reference to another future post on this blog, our definition of SUCCESS and FAILURE "DOES" change and for each one of us, that definition is as unique as our fingerprints).

Original picture on Bill Gates' Biography Page
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/21/2004 02:33:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Outsourcing or Innovation?
A question of outsourcing or innovation?
By Anthony Bradley
Special to Knight Ridder/Tribune

An edited excerpt follows. For the complete original article go here.

The article discusses the issue of outsourcing of jobs overseas and says that it ignores a crucial fact: People are always developing innovative ways to do things more efficiently and effectively. Human creativity, it says, is a double-edged sword, bringing productivity improvements and, very often, widespread job loss. But what we don't seem to realize is that the net result is not fewer jobs but more jobs -- and more productive ones.

Most job losses are a consequence of people cultivating creation.
To really understand what's going on, we need to look at the economic fundamentals and this question : Was the layoff caused by the introduction of a more productive technology, a smarter way to manufacture or a shift in consumer preferences?

Although outsourcing has generated headlines, it is not the chief cause of job losses. The Business Week magazine reports that 1 percentage point of productivity growth can eliminate up to 1.3 million jobs a year.

So, the cause of job losses is: Automation, which affects sectors like: construction, manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade, transportation, information and food services. Airlines have reduced the number of ticket agents because of airport kiosks, online ticket purchases and online check-in. Grocery store clerks are on the decline with the onset of automated checkout counters.

As the economy industrializes, the life cycle of entire industries is radically shortened.

Some specific examples:

The Innovation:
Lyman Blake's shoe-manufacturing machine.
The Consequence: the need to make shoes by hand quickly disappeared -- and so did related jobs.

The Innovation: Henry Ford's Model T.
The Consequence: Horse and buggy industry declined.
Another Consequence: Ford's mass production genius also spawned new industries -- many carriage companies flourished as makers of motor vehicle bodies -- and made human transportation exponentially more efficient.

The Innovation: Freon and the introduction of electric refrigerators.
The Consequence: the ice industry declined. (Until that point, ice was taken from rivers and ponds, cut into blocks and delivered to insulated storage buildings for summer use).

The Innovation: General Motors' Frigidaire "electric icebox".
The Consequence: icebox manufacturers, ice gatherers and the manufacturers of the tools and equipment needed to handle large blocks of ice, all went out of business.

The Innovation: Robots are used for factory tasks.
The Consequence: Jobs that were often dangerous, dirty and tedious, don't require humans anymore.
Another Consequence: Robots need to be manufactured, sold, installed, delivered, maintained, repaired and improved - and who will do that?

Technological advances must always occur within a sound moral framework. If consistent with genuine human flourishing, advances should be embraced as a product of human creativity rather than feared as a source of human suffering. Using foreign workers as scapegoats for the fallout from technological change sabotages any economy's preparedness for such change. This type of sabotage leads to misguided policies that impede productivity improvements and innovations -- which are the very things that make our lives more comfortable, safer and healthier.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/21/2004 01:51:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Saturday, June 19, 2004
How Did This Happen?

Click the picture for larger image.
(Picture courtesy

For the complete story go here.

How did the "BRICK" phones turn into a varied-design bonanza?
The answer:  Design INNOVATION
                    Customer Feedback Procedure INNOVATION
                    Visualization INNOVATION
                    Thought Process INNOVATION
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/19/2004 07:35:00 PM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Current Innovation Issue of BRW Magazine, Australia
Free Article 1:

Imagineers at Work by Emily Ross in the Current Issue of the BRW, Australian Business Magazine. This issue itself is dedicated to "The Innovation Issue". The Table of Contents can be accessed here.

Here is an excerpt:

Most successful people schedule regular time to sit back and think big. But getting good ideas requires some creative thinking.
Think differently:
--Drive home by a different route.
--Have "think weeks" or "think days". Schedule regular holidays.
--Keep inspired.
--Do something active away from your desk.
--Have a shower: according to Sydney psychotherapist Stephen Carroll, "in the shower, your normal everyday consciousness gets sidelined. When you're in the shower, you've stepped out of the everyday, and it allows your unconscious mind to spontaneously bring things up to the surface." Michael Morgan, of Herrmann International Asia, says that in the shower the brainwaves slow down, which is more conducive to creative thought. Showerheads are unlikely to appear in boardrooms soon.

Free Article 2:

In A Word by Darryl F. Bubner.

Here is an excerpt:

Innovation is too many things to too many people, and the misunderstanding is costing Australia dearly.

Innovation has become fashionable, and when something is in vogue it tends to be appropriated for all manner of marketing and promotion. But astute executives remain wary of the word, and with good reason, because innovation is difficult to control and risky without a system to measure and manage it. This might seem a little odd considering how many advertisements call for innovative managers, but the truth is that innovation frequently is not what the ads mean.

Innovation in products, processes and business systems and concepts means new and different rather than more and better. As a process, innovation involves finding and applying knowledge and ideas to create value; and an innovation can be either incremental or breakthrough in nature.

Innovation as a concept is complex and can apply to anything, anywhere, at any time and on any scale. It does not have clean edges and it overlaps research and development (R&D), creativity and improvement. It can mean quite various things to people in different roles.

For example, few research leaders appreciate the significance of business-design innovation behind the growth of global groups such as McDonald's, Ikea, Dell and Benetton, and of Australian companies such as Toll Holdings, Flight Centre and Challenger International.

The term is all too easily debased. For example, in the textile, clothing and footwear sector, government funding for equipment upgrades is dressed up as innovation. Yet worldwide, textile companies are buying the same new equipment, so where is the innovation? Returns on such funding are likely to be dismal, although the taxpayer will probably never know.

Maybe the Innovation 2004 Report will come in handy to sort out the "debasing"! What say Joyce?
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/17/2004 08:05:00 PM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Searchable on Google!
This Blog is now searchable on Google! Use the search term "asideconsulting" and this is the only reference you'll get!
And I had no clue that it was so easy!! All I had to do was submit the URL of this blog and Hey Presto! There's my blog on the search engine!
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/17/2004 09:55:00 AM   1 comments  --- Google It! ---
Inspiration - Charlie Garland

I recently introduced myself to my Co-Authors on Innovation 2004 and invited everyone to visit this Blog. Charlie Garland of Business Brainstorm gave me a wonderful insight - that of including "Inspiration" as a cog in the wheel of the "Innovation Process" from one of my last posts. He also suggested that the cycle should be iterative instead of stopping with "Illustration". Thank you for the wonderful observation Charlie!

What inspires each person within the organization at each stage of the Innovation Process?
Where does everyone look for, for ideas and innovation?
Where does the organization itself, derive inspiration from?
What are the organizational stories and metaphors that keep the wheel of the innovation process well-oiled?
Who are the people in the organization who inspire?

Inspiration for ideas, inspiration for thinking, inspiration for investigation, incubation, illumination and illustration.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/17/2004 06:17:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Enhancing Creativity in Organizations
By Mohammad Javad Salimian (Teheran Times)
In today's complex, competitive, and changing global business world, creativity plays a significant role in an organizational success which is applicable at all levels of operations in an organization. All people have the potential to be creative. Only those managers and organizations will be successful who are committed to creative thinking, boosting creativity throughout the organizations, finding and removing obstacles and applying effective strategies to unleash the potential creativity within them and their organizations.
To read the complete article (it's a short one), go here.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/15/2004 10:47:00 PM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
War Innovation
Visit Saipan Mission One of Innovation on where a Vet recalls schemes of island invasion by US soldiers.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/15/2004 09:57:00 PM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
One Process
Investigate: analyze the project.
What resources will this require?
Who all will be required to work on this?
Which departments will be involved directly/indirectly on this?
Will this be good for the organization? How?
When would be a good time to actually launch this?
What technology will this require?
What is the best way to procure that technology if the organization does not already have it?
Who will do the job of determining the target market?
What factors will make this a success?
How to encourage those factors to enable this process?
What are the various stages which would require participation from top management?
Which value-chain components need to be engaged in this process?
How would a buy-in be created for the various parties?
Does this project dilute the organization's focus or builds on it? (Here focus does not mean a narrowly defined core competency, but the very spirit of the organization.)

The idea for the innovation, itself, needs to be incubated. What needs to be done for incubation involves you to: JUST THINK! Not only the people directly concerned with the outcome of the innovation process, but everyone within the organization and the value-chain elements who need to be involved, should be involved in the thinking process as well. To gain more insight about how the process will impact all possible facets of the organization. Insight about what exactly is being talked about.
What will change and how?
What will the repercussions be (good or bad)?
What could the possible alternatives be?
Are there any negatives to this project? (there definitely will be some)
How to counter those negatives?
What are positives? How to build further on those positives?

And please, when you do think of something that's relevant (in fact, even if you feel it is irrelevant), please WRITE IT DOWN.
When you think, you are laying ground for accuracy and speed in implementation of the project. The more you think, the fewer mistakes you tend to make during the actual implementation. Create a climate for high relaxation and high attentiveness. Observe when it is that you have your "Aha!" moment. And then do that more often!

Brainstorming rules scream one thing and then some expert comes along and shoots them all down! Your brainstorming rules should be based on your organization's culture.
What are the employees comfortable with?
Do people have the tendency to get together in large groups or smaller ones? This determines whether your brainstorming group should be large or restricted to around 12 people.
Does everyone in the organization know almost everyone else?
What is the most popular method of communication internally (telephone, fax, e-mail, teleconference, face-to-face, the coffee machine, the cafeteria)?
Do you use whiteboards for anything else except business discussions?
Do you use Post-its?
Do you use Mind-Mapping software?

All these elements can give a fair picture of how your organization should brainstorm. This was just an example of how if you illuminate yourself with the fundamentals of your organization, you will know who to turn to when you want a solution. This was the brainstorming solution, you could do much more with illumination. Illuminate yourself with the organization like it is a living person. What are its likes and dislikes, what makes it happy, what makes it sad?

Whatever knowledge that has been gleaned so far, whether directly or indirectly related to the project, should be put together into a dynamic package. A package that can be opened and read by anyone within the organization.
What is this project all about?
What does the project involve?
What kind of help would the organization require and from what quarters?
What are the rules for participation, if any?
Where is the organization going with this project?
What has been redefined?

When the parameters for the project have been defined in the previous three steps, all that has been learnt should be shared with everyone in the organization and hopefully the value-chain too. It not only lays the ground for easing the process for another innovation, it also encourages people to innovate more often, since they know their idea will not go unnoticed.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/15/2004 05:46:00 PM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Friday, June 11, 2004
Latest On Innovation
For the latest on Innovation, visit Innovation 2004 on ThinkSmart.
A whole host of professionals have come together with the following Mission:

Create a collaborative learning process that gathers the collective experience, thinking and wisdom of a cross-section of innovation practitioners, consultants and academics in the emerging discipline of innovation.

Synthesize the collective wisdom into an easy to use and understand report.

Distribute the report as widely as possible through various associations and publications which focus on organizational innovation.

posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/11/2004 05:22:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
How's That for Creativity!
Question - "What are washing machines used for?"
Answer - "(Duh!) Washing clothes..."
Result - "WRONG Answer!"

Explanation - "In the northern part of India, most people consume buttermilk made out of curd. Many families used their washing machine for stirring curd and making buttermilk!
The reason is simple: washing machines are cheaper than mechanical stirrers and more suitable."
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/11/2004 02:54:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Thursday, June 10, 2004
Radical Innovation and Uncertainty
Any kind of Innovation involves a level of uncertainty. (Any kind of change involves some level of uncertainty.) But Radical Innovation involves the maximum level of uncertainty on four major fronts: Technical, Organisational, Market and Resource.

Technical uncertainty would involve questions like
"Are the specifications of the product right?"
"Do we have the necessary technology to develop a product with those specifications?"
"Does that technology exist elsewhere?"
"Do we have the right technically sound people to work on this?"

Organisational uncertainty would involve questions like
"Does this follow our core competency or are we losing our focus?"
"Will this be embraced by all employees and management or will I have to abandon it midstream?"
"How will the organisation as a whole react to the development of this innovation?"
"What will happen to the team that is working on this if it turns out to be a failure?"

Market uncertainty would involve customer questions:
"Who are the customers for this innovation?"
"Who should I demonstrate the prototype to?"
"What will the gap be between prototype demonstration-reaction-results and the actual product launch results?"
"Does this fulfil any unmet customer needs?"

Resource uncertainty would include questions like
"Will the management provide enough financial resources for the development of this product?"
"Do we have the adequate technology to do this?"
"Who all will have to contribute resources to this endeavor?"
"Will it require outside help?"
"How willing will management be to acquire that help?"

The answers to these questions will determine what our attitude towards the innovation process is and will hence play a major role in the success or failure of the project.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/10/2004 06:33:00 PM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Qualities of a CEO
According to Drucker, writing in the Harvard Business Review (June 2004), the best CEOs he encountered in the 65 years of his work were "all over the map in terms of their personalities, attitudes, values, strengths and weaknesses". They were, however, remarkably similar in their behaviours.

The key to effectiveness lies in Eight Elements of Effectiveness
The winning CEOs...

--asked "what needs to be done?"
--asked "what is right for the enterprise?"
--developed action plans
--took responsibility for decisions
--took responsibility for communicating
--focused on opportunities rather than problems
--ran productive meetings
--thought and said "we" rather than "I"

posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/08/2004 08:03:00 PM   1 comments  --- Google It! ---
Sunday, June 06, 2004
We all now know and realise that Creativity is crucial to our business' success.

There's potential for creativity everywhere. Every business needs to be looking for creativity in everything it does, not just the product but how you deliver the product, how you market it and how you interact with customers. Creativity is a business survival skill. Without creativity, you are standing still--and that means you're losing ground. Lose enough ground, and your business will die.

How can you up your creativity?

-Ask yourself how things really are--and honestly answer that question. Often people/management see only what they want to see. That doesn't mean that you become pessimistic. Everyone needs a dream, but you must understand reality and what you need to do to succeed.
-Don't overestimate your product or service,
-Don't underestimate your competitors, and
-Never exaggerate consumer demand for what you're doing.

That leads to delusion, not creativity.

-Creativity flows where there's conflict and tension that puts people on edge. That does not mean "war zone", but it would be good to have a workplace where people can speak their minds--even when it ruffles feathers. Don't put too much emphasis on harmony--that can undermine the commitment to creativity.
-Humor can foster creativity. Humor peels away hypocricy, and what makes us laugh often is seeing how things are screwed up--then, sometimes, seeing how we can fix them.
-Give a personal touch to the "cubicle"--family photos, books--things that make you feel at home--and where good ideas come into your head.
-Conformity to the status quo is an enemy of creativity. Empty your mind--pushing out the ideas you "know" to be true. The more successful a businessperson is, the more resistance there can be to doing this. But if you don't, you cannot be really creative.
-Carry a notebook. You never know when an idea will occur to you--an idea for a new business or a better way of doing what you're presently doing. As you drive, watch TV, eat lunch, ideas pop into your head. Unless you write them down, you will not remember them. (Oh! And when you are driving and you have an idea....don't forget to pull over!)
-Wherever you go, really pay attention. Most of us navigate through our world on autopilot, but when we start paying attention--when we start questioning what we are seeing and why--good ideas can occur to us. (Somewhat like the "Earthworm Observation" on the right top corner of my blog.)
-Lots of ideas come up when you meet new people. Somebody will say "I wish a company did this!" and Bingo! an idea for a business comes to you.
-For every sacred cow, there is an opposite idea, and, sometimes, exploring the opposite is where entrepreneurs will find the best ideas. Ask yourself how you can put a new twist on an old product or service. Sometimes the most creative uses literally smash the product and come up with something entirely new.
-Persistent elaboration of an idea is what finally yields a commercial creative success.
-We do the same things, the same way, every day. We need to feel a little uncomfortable--we need to experience new things--to get creative sparks. Anything we do that forces us out of our normal environment will let us see things in new, different ways.

How do you turn ideas into viable business plans?

-Don't become self-satisfied
just because an idea seems good on paper. Test every good idea against what the marketplace needs and wants.
-Continually criticize/refine your own ideas. The creative process frequently involves going beyond the first idea. Uncreative people commonly marry the first good idea that comes along. But creative people detach from their ideas and refine them. The more ideas, the better.

In the end, the real secret to creativity is practice. The more we do it, the better we get. Creativity can be developed in all of us--if we keep questioning what we see and keep looking for creative solutions and ideas. Practice is why the truly creative stay truly creative.
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/06/2004 12:45:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Saturday, June 05, 2004
Impossible is Nothing

Impossible is Nothing.
The ad campaign by Adidas.

My version for Organisational Innovation: "It is easier to live in the organisation from the traditional era (use the same methods, procedures and thought processes). Difficult, but phenomenally rewarding to use the power vested in you to change to an Innovative Organisation (innovative thinking, risky endeavours)."
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/05/2004 03:44:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Thursday, June 03, 2004
Service Innovation
Excerpted from Heads-Up! on Organizational Innovation

Professors Christopher Lovelock and George Yip noted the four essential differences between products and services back in 1961. The following 4 points use Sasser's framework to delve into the emerging discipline of service innovation.

1. Intangibility: Services have no physical form. They cannot be seen before purchase or taken home after.

Advice for service innovators: Provide a tangible artifact that will give cues about the service and create word-of-mouth to help dissemination. For example, when you check into the House of Blues Hotel in Chicago, they give you a CD with blues music from acts that perform at the House of Blues, which is across the street. If it doesn't get you to go to a show, it might make a nice conversation piece or reminder when you play it later in your car stereo.

2. Inseparability: The act of supplying a service is inseparable from the customer's act of consuming it. This is true even though most services require literally dozens of people to produce and support it.

Advice for service innovators: If the service only exists in the moment it is produced and consumed, and dozens of people are involved, then you better become skilled at rapid service prototyping so you can get everyone on the same page. Prototyping is religion in the product development world, but services require very different prototyping tools -- scenarios, short videos, computer-animation, for example -- the use of which is far from commonplace.

3. Heterogeneity: Unlike tangible products, no two service delivery experiences are alike.

Advice for service innovators: You can deliver on two competing goals -- standardization and customization -- if you customize via
(1) a superbly trained service person with uncompromising customer empathy, or
(2) a sophisticated IT platform. Nordstrom seems to have a knack for the first approach, while ATMs that "speak" Spanish are a good example of the second.

4. Perishability: Services cannot be inventoried. We expect them to be accessible most if not all of the time.

Advice for service innovators: Design your service to take full advantage of peak/off peak opportunities. Restaurant chain Cosi is not only a gourmet coffee shop in the morning, it also serves as the corner bar after work.

These issues are just the tip of the iceberg. During the next 18 months service innovation will become white hot, and a new discipline of service innovation will begin to emerge.
Lovelock, Christopher and George Yip, "Developing Global Strategies for Service Businesses," California Management Review, Winter 1996, pp. 64-85.

posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/03/2004 04:32:00 PM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Military Innovation
Military Innovation: Hurdles, Bumps and Jumps
by Girish Luthra


Military innovation is peculiar and distinctive, and has no direct parallels.
The military environment itself, with focus on hierarchy, discipline and tradition makes innovation a daunting challenge. The process is further influenced by civil-military relations and metrics used for measuring effectiveness of innovative efforts. Factors influencing the process of military innovation vary when examining innovation at the policy and strategy level, at the doctrinal level, during peacetime and under conditions of war. A deeper examination of the process is also essential since innovation is a prerequisite for any revolution.

There is no single source to which success or failure to innovate can be attributed. Innovation in the military is more a cultural than functional issue, and mere exaltation is unlikely to make a military more innovative. It is the creation of a carefully nurtured environment and a suitable framework based on empowerment, adequate risk-acceptance and creation of suitable career paths that can spur innovation.

For a free PDF of the complete paper, please e-mail me.

posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/03/2004 03:56:00 PM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
Six Pillars of Innovation

Pictorial representation by Naina Redhu of the Six Pillars of Innovation by Rich Duncombe, Senior Director, Advanced Products and Device Lab, HP and Joanne Hyland, President and Founding Partner, Radical Innovation Group
posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/03/2004 07:54:00 AM   1 comments  --- Google It! ---
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
"The degree to which the opportunity to use power effectively is granted to or withheld from individuals is one operative difference between those companies which stagnate and those which innovate." The Change Masters, Rosabeth Moss Canter.

That's leads to the age old "balancing authority and responsibility" process. Most of us are familiar with the aspect of delegating responsibility. But how does one delegate authority?
Delegating responsibility can entail something as simple as the senior telling the junior that a specific task is his/her responsibility.
"Your neck is on the line" message.

But can one also say "Ok from now on, no hierarchy."
"Do what you want to." message=Anarchy.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could delegate responsibility and authority to everyone in the organisation?
That would be the ideal situation. I believe that's possible with a
-lot of trust (management trusting employees) and
-a lot of ownership (employees regarding organisation as own).

The outcome? INNOVATION.
And not only innovation in so far as new product ideas are concerned, but innovation in every area and every process.
Real outcome? TRUE INNOVATION.

posted by Naina @ Permalink 6/01/2004 02:58:00 AM   0 comments  --- Google It! ---
blog navigation
recent entries
monthly archive
innovation links
changethis manifestos
design links
other links
RSS and XML Feed Subscribe to Innovation with Bloglines
Listed on BlogShares I'm on orkut
My profile on LinkedIn My profile on Ecademy
Skype Me! Blogger Profile
Innovation Challenge Judge Blogstreet Profile

directions for using the blog
all links are in green: when you take your mouse-pointer over a link, it turns blue with a dashed gray underline. links in the post-body are also dash-underlined.

all links to useful information within the blog are under the *blog navigation* sidebar on the top-right.

the topmost right-corner advertises the yellow pages service provided by my parent organization, InnovationNetwork.

the ASIDE Innovation Blog does not advertise for third-parties and there are no pop-ups associated with the blog.

for any complaints kindly e-mail me at asideblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Naina Redhu has no liability for the contents on the pages of the weblinks under the *innovation*, *design* and *other* categories.

the *ideas@aside* logo is the sole-property of ASIDE and Naina Redhu and is copyrighted under the Creative Commons like the rest of the graphics and writing existing on the ASIDE Innovation Blog.

the blog has been optimized for Internet Explorer and uses websafe colors. the color scheme has been extensively researched for eye-safety for on-screen viewing as well as for the impact of colors on the brain. the colors on this weblog are suitable for a stress-free read and will relax all five senses.

comments relating to subject-matter under innovation / creativity and design / colors are welcome.
All comments, ideas and thoughts on the ASIDE Innovation Blog
are property of their authors unless otherwise stated
Copyright Naina Redhu, 2004
ASIDE is powered by Blogger