Preparing to Innovate

Nikunj Jain talks about building teams to challenge the norm.

“Brainstorming call today.” Emails with such subject lines are doomsday in the making. Come one, come all is very rarely the path to creative innovation. As I personally noticed while conducting innovation sessions, there is a direct correlation between an increased number of participants to decreased quality of ideas. There may be more in quantity but the depth of the ideas generally shrinks.

My perfect blend of a team formed to innovate are personalities who are comfortable being uncomfortable; an inquisitive mindset to try new foods, music, experiences, etc. The next step would be creating a sandbox for them to experiment and test fundamental assumptions without outside influences to disturb their outcomes. The intent of the sandbox is to prevent the old guards from defending the right way to do things.

Within this sandbox the gloves are off, starting with the mindset gravity that we bring in. Mindset gravity is just like gravity — the way things have always been done or something even larger such as cultural beliefs that are un-breakable. The key here is not for solutions, but out-of-the-box challenges that the team would want to tackle. This challenge would now become your Innovation Gravity and define your escape trajectory.

Challenges could arise from multiple utilities. Here are some examples:

  • Increase productivity by factors above the best in the industry
  • Simplify process for Customers, Employees or even Investors
  • Convenience of eliminating certain steps or a removal of processes
  • Risk mitigation to build trust into the system
  • Fun & image to bring a new personality to an old boring industry
  • Environmentally friendly for an industry known to be anything but friendly

However, with every innovation comes the effects on economic, sociological and organizations supporting today’s solutions. Yes, co-creation is one solution and has its merits, but certain solutions are ideated to replace the current ways of doing things. Therefore, on-boarding and re-training teams that are to be replaced, is crucial. Price is what you pay for value. What are you willing to invest for that new value?

Nikunj Jain is a native of Bombay, India with a diverse background and education in Design Styling from College for Creative Studies (USA), Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech (USA) and an MBA in Market strategy from SP Jain (Bombay) coupled with global experience in Concept Design + Styling with Tata-JLR group. He currently works in the Mahindra Group Strategy building a culture of Design+Strategy. He developed the first Group Design Competition focusing on delight through the customer journey to help Mahindra companies think from the perspective of customer experience with a design focus.

You can read Nikunj’s piece on Finding the Pathway to Creativity here.