Friday, December 22, 2006

Business Creativity and Innovation

What is the source to new wealth? How does a company achieve an exponential growth? These questions are always haunting business leaders today - but surprisingly, the answer is very simple. One just needs to look at the successful companies around and the answer becomes crystal clear - "Innovation". The answer is deceptively simple - because the challenge of successful innovation is not easy to conquer.

Need for Business creativity and Innovation

Post Independence, Indian firms were not aggressive in developing a strong R&D capability, and even those companies which had a formal R&D department, concentrated only on technology assimilation, localization and indigenous production. (This was mainly due to license raj regime followed by the socialist governments) It was only after 1991, when the license raj was dismantled, Indian companies began to take a fresh look at Innovation and the results are truly spectacular: Reliance, Infosys, Wipro, Bharti, Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors, Dr. Reddy Labs, Biocon, Bharat Forge etc. These companies have created enormous wealth - only because they were able to innovate new products and services.

Indian IT industry took an early lead by innovating a "Global Delivery Model". Today that model has been successfully adapted by BPO, KPO firms as well. Innovation at Reliance Industries is also another classic example of process innovation. One of the main reason for Reliance’s success is its unique "de-bottlenecking" capability. This allows Reliance to constantly increase its production capacity and lower the costs at the same time.

Innovation should not be confused with invention. Invention is creation of new tools, where as innovation includes invention and a lot more. Innovation includes invention of something new, developing a new use for existing use, developing a new process or a method to solve existing problem and economic value creation from creative ideas. From a business point of view, the last point is most important: Creating economic value by new means is innovation.

Innovation is a product of creativity. Creative individuals in a right environment become innovators. From business point of view, creativity is best defined as an act of making something new which is useful and appropriate.

Tools for business creativity

Organizations worldwide have realized the need for innovation and are taking deliberate steps to foster innovation. As a first step, companies are hiring creative people - artists, scientists, engineers etc. However hiring creative people alone does not produce innovation. Few organizations are more creative than others. 3M, Google, Yahoo and Apple have become icons of corporate creativity. But creativity is not limited to these companies alone, IBM, Intel, AMD, Microsoft, Oracle, and a host of others file hundreds of patents every year. This implies that creativity can be imbibed into the organization.

Indian companies are now catching up with their western counterparts in setting up the right Observing the best practices in these successful innovative organization, companies can learn how to foster creativity. To begin with, these companies hire creative people, provide training to enhance creativity, provide the right environment to promote innovation and provide the right tools.

Creativity in an individual can be enhanced by providing the right tools and training to use those tools. This may sound surprising for many, but there are lots of tools and methods to enhance creativity: Brain Storming, Lateral thinking, Six thinking hats, Random word, The Discontinuity principle, Tinkertoys, Forced analogy, Morphological forced connections, Imitation, Mindmaps, Storyboarding, Synetics, Metaphorical thinking, Lotus Blossom technique etc.

Companies are now training all their employees to use these tools at work to enhance their creativity. In Bangalore NineDots offers training on these tools. Nine Dots Consulting offers a comprehensive suite of learning and training solutions tailored specifically according to the requirements of clients. Our team of highly experienced training consultants has been collaborating with clients, such as Oracle, Accenture, ABB, and Robert Bosch to stay competitive by designing custom learning programs.

Examples of Indian Innovation

India has a long history of innovation. Starting from the vedic ages with the development of numerical system, geometry, algebra, ayurveda, astronomy etc. Tippu Sultan’s army was the first to use rockets in a battlefield. Indian innovation in architecture, construction, irrigation during the 1600-1700’s can still be seen in the ruins of Hampi. In 1990’s Indian IT companies innovated the global delivery model. Now Indian hospitals are innovating in the space of "tele-medicine". India’s success in medical tourism is a direct benefit of India’s innovation in medical affordability - which in turn was a product of several innovations in surgical techniques, process re-engineering of pharmaceutical drugs, material technology etc.

Lately, Indian automobile industry has demonstrated resounding success of Indian innovation. Bajaj Auto created DTSI technology and designed Pulsar bike, Mainigroup’s Reva, Mahandra’s Scorpio, Tata Motors created Sumo, Safari, Indica, 209, 407, and a slew of trucks. The success of Indian automobiles has made India proud and Indians are now being recognized for their innovation. Global auto giants such as GM, Ford, and Daimler-Chrysler have setup R&D centers in India.

Today we are seeing lots of startups and established business houses promote innovation in their organization. The need to innovate has become essential for the very survival of Indian business. As a result, companies are looking at ways and means to imbibe a culture of innovation in their organization.

"Innovate on the Move" TM Workshop on creativity and innovation

Bangalore based firm NineDots conducts several workshops to foster creativity in organizations. NineDots now offers "Innovate on the Move" an unique workshop tailored for Indian firms. "Innovate on the Move" workshop is designed to foster creative thinking and efficiently manage innovation in an organization. This workshop was a product of deep insight into Indian needs for innovation, constrains faced by organizations and the culture of Indian organizations. This workshop focuses on imbibing a culture of innovation by enhancing creativity of the individuals and helping them manage their creative outputs into an innovation which creates economic value to the organization.

Also See:

Creating a Culture for Innovation and Protecting Intellectual Property - Part 1
Creating a Culture for Innovation and Protecting Intellectual Property - Part 2
Protecting IP Assets of an Organization
Types of Intellectual Property
Knowledge Management - The blood & lifeline of any company
Collaborate to Innovate

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