Monday, September 28, 2009

On what my obstacles feed?

To increase the speed, I need more power; more power is at the expense of more weight, which in turn decreases the speed. Be it an automobile or an enterprise, knowing - on what your obstacles feed - helps. Following questions; when answered, will find some of yours.

Culture / Mindset

1) Do you associate part of your employee satisfaction to the innovative culture?
2) Does your enterprise enforce people to think only in terms of their roles?
3) Are you stuck with the thought that innovation is responsibility of HQs?
4) Is conviction that you are an innovative enterprise holding you back from doing more?
5) Is the world passing by? Are you too internally focused?

ROI / Priorities

6) Are your stakeholders’ & investors’ short term focus backed by solid reasoning?
7) Is your customer-acquisition spending primarily on tangible aspects?
8) Does your enterprise facilitate ability to change course on the way?
9) Do you deal with R&D cost Vs Benefits same as you deal with Cost price Vs Selling price?
10) Do you stay ahead of competition or follow it?

Enablement / Motivation

11) Does your leadership tend to notice the crisis manager more often than the one who avoids crises?
12) Does your enterprise recognize importance of incremental innovation?
13) Do you have an on-demand, two-way pipe between the business challenge and the idea sources?
14) Do you believe remuneration is good enough motivation for someone to innovate for you?
15) Have you visualized your junior employee taking a brilliant idea to implementation?

Somewhere between ‘why’ & ‘why not’ – that worthwhile journey begins.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Negative capability

People innovate, a process or a system doesn’t.
People are your positive capability; not enabling your people is your negative capability.

Fortunately enabling your workforce is quite in your control, and can help reduce the negative capability to great extent. Ways to enable your people is only limited to your imagination.

Enable it by giving employees their own time in the area of their interest.
Have on the spot reward at the assembly line
Create an inclusive mindset; flat structure which retains the ideas
This could become a long list ...
But what matters is - your own means of enabling on the ground. To have an enablement plan in place, obvious place to start is to look out for non-enablers, the road-blocks.

a) First and foremost - have you established a channel, a way of reaching out to your talent sources? Sending an email or putting up a blog is an option but this unstructured approach may not get you very far. Pull, in other words self-service and volunteered effort works the best.

b) Have you figured out ways to motivate a potential contributor? Certificates are good, but unfortunately it does not excite the real talent. Most like recognition and nobody says no for dollars. Most importantly map the motivation to the intellectual satisfaction.

c) Have you decentralized innovation? Do you have a team that innovates or do you have a team that innovates & coordinates the innovations of all employees across your enterprise, check out this big difference.

Figuring out your own set of enablers and keeping them fresh fosters your innovation journey.

Give man an assignment to innovate for days. Or Enable your workforce to innovate anytime, anywhere - self served.

“Give man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” - Lao Tzu.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

On the cloud, and counting

Today - electricity, enterprise email provider & online CRM are on your service payment list, served from the cloud.

Hiring talent is world’s oldest way of managing innovation. And way back, people figured out that talent could be also hired as-and-when needed & for-the-time it is needed

Moving on from there, a new revolution is taking place. Innovation is now open.

Following is the direction; a typical senior management has started thinking.

1) I do not need the best talent, I need the right talent.
2) I do not need the right talent forever, I need it for now and I don’t know when next.
3) I do not want to go attempt and search the right talent, I want the right one to approach me.
4) I do not want to keep paying for something with a probability of not meeting my expectations.

If you closely look at this new mindset, you will find it to be a win-win for both the sides.

a) Global pool of talent – The long tail phenomenon, the right talent you are after may not be the most visible or present is the most obvious place, or part of the best and biggest groups. Innovation intermediaries are now connecting your enterprises with the right talent across the world.
b) Customers – are obviously the best source of intelligence on how they can be served better. And when they are served better, then chances of lot many more customers feeling the same is high, directly affecting your business growth. It is becoming increasingly important to connect with your customers, not as an event, but to stay connected.
c) Research vendors – are opening up for a partnership which is not a fixed price contract for doing research, the outcome based contracts are on the rise. Also enterprises are tying up with multiple research vendors, and research vendors working for more clients simultaneously, as a result both sides increasing the chances of hitting the plum.
d) Academia – Most of the academia are happy to be associated with the enterprises on the relevant subjects. You won’t find an innovative enterprise not having few associations for tapping the talent in academia.

These are the things lined up for your next cloud.

The world never stops, the ones perceived to be the best, give way for better ones.

Tip is – go tap it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Who stalled my innovation?

When innovation gets caught up on the way, it becomes a liability. Benefits which are scheduled to arrive and accounted for is delayed, while the investments made keep adding up. Failed innovation is a natural process; it takes 10 to get the 1 right, and is far better than the stalled effort.

The best place to start is to figure out if resistance is taking a toll. This typically happens towards the very beginning or towards the very end when key stakeholders are involved, who, like everybody else have natural tendency to resist change.

Check if the effort is spent in one direction, without a stock take, for too long. Form a steering committee external to the innovation team derived from a diverse background, which provides independent inputs periodically.

People pick signals from leadership, if a leader’s commitment is diluted or has backed off, then you will see the untold consequence on the ground.

The stalling factor for your enterprise innovation could be entirely different, which, only you can figure out and act on. And when you do, consider following,

1. Check if key people have left or withdrawn interest.
2. Check if budget got utilised elsewhere.
3. Check if it lacks an unbiased view. Form an external steering committee.
4. Check if you are hoarding it up, de-centralize innovation and look beyond the obvious.
5. Check if you need basic processes around innovation, like you have for other critical things.

Revival resembles being in new locality of a familiar town, to get back home, it is essential to catch the one going in the right direction!