Friday, September 21, 2012

Highlights of the Next Gear program on innovation leadership, July 5-6, 2012

I facilitated a 2-day program “Next Gear: Gearing up forinnovation leadership” on July 5-6 held at Hotel Grand Mercure, Bangalore. Participants came from both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. The objective of the program was to learn how to lead organization’s innovation initiative effectively. Here are some highlights of the program.

Innovation leader’s navigation matrix: It is not enough to know which medicines to take. It is important to know which one to take when. Every organization’s situation is different. Hence, we parameterized the context using a 3x3 navigation matrix (see below). You need to assess if the problem at hand is primarily that of a dry idea pipeline, low idea velocity or poor batting average. Similarly, we need to assess if the situation is primarily an Elephant problem (lack of motivation) or a Rider problem (lack of direction) or both (e.g. see the Elephant-Rider model). Over the 2-days we filled this matrix with various approaches.

2 core interventions: bright spots & challenge book: Then we looked at 2 interventions which we consider as fundamental and applicable in most situations. One, how to run a challenge campaign effectively and two, how to find and clone bright spots. In the process we created a participants’ challenge book. Here is how it looks:

How to improve idea velocity? Next we looked at various ways in which we can improve the rate at which ideas can move forward. One of them was: low-cost high-speed experimentation. Among the many real life examples we looked at, one was the pea-plant experiment performed by the father of Indian cinema, Dadasaheb Phalke a hundred years ago (in 1912). The experiment got him funding for his first film, Raja Harischandra.

Design Thinking vs TRIZ: We ended day-1 with a panel discussion on two creative problem solving methodologies: TRIZ and Design Thinking. Dr. Bala Ramadurai a TRIZ expert and Lakshman Pachineela a Design Thinking expert shared their views on how these two approaches work.

Managing big bets: During this session we looked at various approaches of managing big bets e.g. innovation sandbox. At the end, we had a panel discussion where Dr. Ashwin Naik, CEO of Vaatsalya, Dr. Ishwar Parulkar, CTO, Cisco and JayeshBadani, CEO, Ideaken shared their experiences in managing big bets.

Enabling a culture change: Most innovation initiatives need to enable a culture change as well. How do you do it? Raja Chidambaram a change facilitation consultant and V R Prasanna, CEO of Sikshana Foundation shared their perspectives on the topic.

Participant presentations: Participants presented the two actions they plan to take away from the workshop. Within two months several participants had implemented at least one of their actions such as executing a challenge campaign. Here is a summary of participant take-aways.

Articles summarizing the panel discussions in this workshop:

Enabling a culture change in rural government schools: Prasanna shares Sikshana experience, Sept 15, 2012
Open innovation: Ideaken CEO Jayesh Badani shares his experience, Sept 23, 2012

Source: Phalke’s photo is from the film Harischandrachi Factory.


  1. Grab your jackstands, and raise them so the top notch is even with the center of the wheel. I use the notch as a string guide.