Thursday, March 29, 2012

How to be Creative - Quick Tips!

I couldn't but help myself from putting this post together.

Got to know about a very interesting book : "Imagine: How Creativity Works" written by journalist Jonah Lehrer. Lehrer has actually helped to disseminate what scientists know about creativity. In fact, in March 1st week, 2012 Wall Street Journal, his article “How to be creative” took up the entire front page of Section C and another full page inside the section.

Let’s take a quick look at Lehrer’s “10 Quick Creativity Hacks” from the WSJ article.
1.       When you’re in a blue room, you’re more creative.
2.      You’re more creative when you’re a bit groggy.
3.      People who daydream more score higher on creativity tests.
4.      If you imagine yourself as a 7-year-old, you have more ideas.
5.      Watching a comedy video makes you more creative just afterwards.
6.      If you think the creativity puzzles come from another country or state, rather than your own local university, you’re more creative.
7.       Use more generic verbs to describe your challenge.
8.      If you sit next to a box (but not in it) you’re more creative.
9.      Students who’ve lived abroad are more creative.
10.   When people move to a bigger city they become more creative.

It’s true that these 10 tips are based in research studies. But it’s good to be a bit skeptical, because most of the studies used paper-and-pencil creativity tests that have only a limited relationship to real-world creativity. It makes me think of a study published a couple of years ago that found that if you stare at the Apple logo, you score higher on a creativity test than people who stare at the IBM logo. Does anyone really believe that simply looking at an Apple will make you more creative in any meaningful way? Not me.

Successful creativity results from hard work over a long period of time, from a systematic and deliberate process that raises the ratio of success to failure. Lehrer knows this too, of course.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Innovation: Did I discover or invent something?

I remember an Innovation seminar that we had in our BSchool; and one of our favourite professors, Prof. Paul Prabhakar was at the podium. It was a 2 hour session, and participation was based on pre registrations. Prof. Prabhakar is a well known Marketing thought leader and the seminar was expected to be filled with all his big fan marketing students, including me. However, every one of the 131 students that we had that year, were present. Some of them even stood at the back for the long 2 hour session since enough sitting arrangements were not made!

I think the innovation bug bit me that day. I remember how in 2 hours Prof. Prbhakar actually took us through the entire innovation process.

In one of the examples, which he called innovation by subtraction, he explained how when a bi-cycle is converted into an exercising cycle adding value, convenience and ease to its users. Though that class was held sometimes in 2006, I am quite sure every one of us remember that talk in vivid details.

Back to present day.

Based on our various interactions with different organizations - big, small or in between, a workshop on innovation grew bigger in our head. My training partner, Ms. Deepti Pant, who runs India's first school of Innovation & Creativity and who has conducted various innovation projects with organizations like GSK, LG, P&G, Samsumg, C&P etc, helped us design a workshop around innovation and design management.

However, when I started talking to people around me, who I thought would benefit immensely with a better understanding of innovation, I realised that there lies a lot of confusion between discovery, invention and innovation. And therefore, most them considered to keep innovation at a very abstract level somewhere in the air willing to leave it on the hands of fortune to struck them at some God determined auspicious hour.

Well, God may be the best innovator, but He might not be interested in earthly affairs as much.

As a true believer of innovation and its potential, here is my two pence worth of wisdom; please feel free to add value to my thought.

Now, if I may briefly point out the differences between the three, Discovery is a new increment to knowledge; Invention is a new device or process, while Innovation is A better way of doing things.

We can have six focus areas for innovation, which are

·       Product --- what we produce and sell
·       Service --- exceeding customer expectations
·       Process --- continuous improvement of how we do things
·       Management --- business strategies, systems and structures
·       Open --- working beyond boundaries and collaborating globally
·       Value --- creating unique value that eliminates the cost to compete

Looking through the list, it is therefore, important to consider where you need to focus your innovative efforts now. And remember, innovation is not for today. Its for something that you want to do sometimes down the line which will have either a Sustaining, Breakthrough or a Disruptive effect on the way thing are done now and would be done in future!

More on this in my next update.
Part 2: Creativity & Innovation; Types of Innovation