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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Conversation with Myself - Innovation

Q1. Innovation is currently the most overused (or some say abused) word in the popular press. In the hype surrounding Innovation, do you really think focused Innovation initiatives have any specific value? One could as well say it as the R&D initiative, why innovation initiatives is really the question?

Answer: Innovation has not only seen proliferated press coverage, it has become a major fashion trend as well (laughs). In the new world innovation is increasing in multiple dimensions which is unprecedented. Further, technology is just one component, albeit an important one, of innovation proliferation. From my point of view I am looking at the world as increasing globalization is changing the way the world works – with location, geography, position, hierarchy and mass loosing ground rapidly to virtualization, any-location, any-position in the enterprise, networking, connectedness and ignition of individual minds. These shifts as I are coming to the surface as the most important ingredients of value creation.

However, increasing globalization increases complexity manifolds. One may globalize for value but may end-up creating more complexity which engulfs the enterprises into downward spirals. Innovation – or what I call successful exploitation of ideas - is the only way to meet the future head-on. I realized it – it is not about old structures or old metrics – it is about crafting value where nothing exists – it is about engaging each mind that works with and for your enterprise into value creation – it is all about continuous all-round innovation. It is not only about adapting to the changing world, it is about shaping the world by creating changes that manifest as value. We need to strive continuously to achieve synergies with all the minds who work with us.

Q2. Do you really propose to develop “How to …Innovate” cook-books? Designing Innovations or Innovation processes – looks like an oxymoron as most of us believe – it just happens, and it is really not a systematic step-by-step process. Your comments.

Answer: I am a researcher as well – with interests right now in the interplay of globalization, innovation and complexity. In this journey I have experimented with multiple techniques, methods for ideation, idea fructification, idea evaluation, problem solving, etc. I sincerely believe one process, one method, one metric, or, one system is not the right answer. Thus, we are creating frameworks using many of existing techniques to come up with generic set of frameworks – I call them the Innovation Crafting frameworks which combines many of existing methods and some home-grown ones as well to help enterprises/individuals in enabling innovation inside the organization These frameworks have been quite successful and we are continuously developing them further at my company Crafitti Consulting Private Limited http://www.crafitti.com

Q3. Well, are there any specific techniques or methods that you are using as part of these frameworks?

Yes, as I said my research, experimentation and explorations indicates five key winners are emerging per-se. These are the Lean Thinking from Toyota Motors, The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) from the work of a Russian patent engineer, who studied patents and came out with this theory of problem solving and third winner is the so called network science movement – social computing, open source, open innovation, open life, network analysis – the networked way of connecting to and developing ideas. Besides there are many specific techniques in the new field of decision engineering I have found useful in developing such Innovation frameworks. Finally, I think the systems thinking - the holistic approach to understanding multiple problems, systems, scenarios or even organizations is assuming a central role in creating the new approaches to solving problem or creating value in what I call the GIX Bang (Globalizing Innovation Complexity) world.

Q4. This looks like a set of esoteric research tools – does large globally distributed enterprises as you put it – find them useful or will find them useful? Pardon me for being little skeptical.

Answer: (Laughs) Our experiments indicate that most of large enterprises - they happen to be Globally Distributed Enterprises, as I put it (smiles) – are really struggling to cope-up with complexity. Old ways, methods and frameworks which succeeded in the past are failing – failing miserably. The command and control structures designed with so much fine-grained details in the last millennium are shaking – in fact crumbling when faced with individuals self-organizing to create value – the new open world. These individuals feed on thoughts, ideas and empowerment through technological and other forms of almost real form connectivity with others of their ilk. It is a new world – fundamentally a new world – the new world as you know demands new ways. Someone really has to study, explore, experiment and make solutions for the new enterprises in the new world. Which is what we at Crafitti (http://www.crafitti.com) are doing – we are choosing those techniques or those parts of methodologies that are working in our explorations – work in the new world is experimental – so as one can say is living – it is not about predictability of the old world – it is about thriving in continuous change.

Q5 Interesting. How can Crafitti’s existing or future clients leverage these frameworks? Do you intend to share or work with the clients or these are for Crafitti alone?

Answer: These frameworks help us and our clients to solve problems – differently; Or may be solve different problems. These techniques or most of them anyway are available in open literature and practice. Our value lies in creating and converting them into integrated frameworks that are working. We offer these for our clients, suppliers, employees and who so ever is interested. We believe by sharing and developing these frameworks. Together we will co-create the future that will generate richer value for all stakeholders. Hence these are available to be explored, developed, and deployed with our clients.

Q6. How will Crafitti do it? I mean, do the clients need to come here to study, you will go to clients or do we work through virtualization as you said? What is the process – really?

Answer: See- you are coming again to Innovation Process (smiles). Seriously, we are open to multiple engagement models – besides all the three models that you articulated – we can become our client’s extended Innovation labs. We are ready, eager and in fact propose fluid teams from Crafitti clients and our partners to come to gether create value, learn and have fun together. I believe it is important to have a metric which measures, tracks and increases the average life of ideas in the enterprise. Our vision is to empower ideas together.

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