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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Providing Feedback & infusing Openess

"How did I performed in the Presentation Today”

“ Was I speaking Too fast during client meet”

 

In case you gave the presentation, Wouldn't it help you to know the answers to above questions.

How often we have felt that organizations should be more Humane and our Peers should be more Open in giving feedback or Guidance instead of being diplomatic.

 

Now whether one is in Organization, School or College everybody wants to know how they are doing in job, how they are performing, in which areas they are lacking.

Genuine Feedbacks by fellow colleagues can go a long way in helping an individual to figure out what to do & what not to do.

 Role Feedback (like above) can play may be:

To Employees: Bringing Clarity leading to high self confidence, knowing inadequacies  spotted by others providing a chance for improvement, serve as guidance for self improvement.

To Employers: Clarity among employees boosts their morale and ultimately leads to high performance thus customer’s satisfaction & more profits. 

 

Noticing this insight that Genuine & Open Feedbacks are so important and can help both employees & employers (I take this opportunity to admit and also blow my own trumpet that couple of us also noted this Insight & decided to create something), Rypple.com has been created providing a chance to employees & employers to express about each there in the form of Simple feedbacks. 

Rypple is a platform where the user(employer or employee) asks a question of not more than 100 words (short & sweet, similar to Twitter) For Eg:

"How did I perform at presentation today"

The question is then emailed to specified people who inturn provides their feedback. The responses are kept anonymous so that, employees cannot tell who has made them thus providing a chance to respondent to express freely.

 

Platforms like Rypple are infusing an element of openness and building a culture of expression & learning within the organization.

Anything other, you can do in your organization to infuse the same elements other than using Rypple:

1.       How about placing a white board at a place wherein employees can come in & write questions with respondents coming in writing as anonymous thus providing feedback. (note the location where the board has to kept is important).

 2.       How about placing a white board in the elevators & managers posting questions for employees to respond while they are using elevators. A fun way to respond at the same time utilizing time of employees while they are in elevators.

 

I think with Economic Downturn, companies needs to infuse elements of Openness and tools like those mentioned above will help in bringing Clarity, increased team spirit, performance & thus high morale among employees leading to high & quick performance.    

 

 Have a look at the information below of Rypple.

 

 




Rypple Introduction from Rypple on Vimeo.

Thanks

Neeraj 

Source: Flickr.com, Rypple.com

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Books & Ads

Hi Everyone

Thought of Compiling some of the best books & ads  related to Innovation,design thinking & Creativity.

So here goes the list

1. The back of the napkin: Dan Roam – Amazing  book teaching how to solve problems using Visuals

2. Free prize Inside : Seth Godin – Useful book showcasing how to sell Ideas & showcasing how selling of ideas are even more important than having Ideas.

3. Game Changer: AG Lafley & Ram Charan : Useful book showcasing how AG Lafley & his team made P&G great again using  design thinking.

4. Blue Ocean Strategy:  W.Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne: Useful in understanding how to create uncontested markets

5. How to Have Creative Ideas: Edward De Bono : Useful for having different great Ideas.

6. Breakthrough Ideas: Compilation of 15 Harvard Business School Articles : Useful articles that defines businesses today

7. Change Management: V.Nilakant & S. Ramnarayan : Very useful book teaching how to bring change in the Company without resistance & altering the mindsets.

8. Outside Innovation: Patricia Seybold : Useful in understanding how to  co create with customers & what role they have to play.

9. The circle of Innovation: Tom Peters : Useful in understanding why innovation is important & what each of us should do.

 

 

Some List of Ads that

1.  Japanese ad council - imagination: talks about how important is it to harness imagination of others.

 





2.Honda : Talking about how to hate something so bad that you want bring a change, a useful trait of innovators

  







3. Ibm :
 Talking about how apart from Thinking, Execution is important for innovation & bringing a change, so stop thinking & start doing

 






4. Ibm : One more from IBM,
  this one I really liked......talks about coming together and building new smart companies, solutions for greener environment & joining together with your ideas & making a difference.

 









5. BMW ad : Important lesson to always push the boundaries of what we know & what is possible

 







6. Johnny walker:
  Talks about how important it is to take the first step & initiate. Very useful Trait of Innovators & entrepreneurs.

 








7. Nasdaq: talking about how innovators needs to be visionary, have flexible approach & be innovative to build great companies

 









8. Toyota ad : featuring traits of innovators like visionary thinking, continuous improvement, etc

 






9. Apple :  2007 think different ad from Apple. Have a look. Amazing. Beleive & Think Different  




I ll be adding some more ads that talks about traits of Innovation, Design thinking & Creativity. Suggest if you know any.

 

Thanks

Neeraj

Source: You tube

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Designing Shopping Experience Using Technology

Hi guys

Now As Indians WE LOVE SWEETS & SNACKS :)

This can be checked from the lines of people at sweet shops  during festival season & range of sweets that we gift to each other. In any normal day too, many people can be seen at various sweet shops.

A Normal Sweet store experience in India is something like this:

 - Huge Waiting lines for ordering & at checkout (due to slow process) thereby hampering shopping experience of customers.

 - Paper receipts given by each ordering counter which in turn have to be submitted at checkout counter for payment.

-  People who want to buy less may not decide to purchase considering time taken to checkout.

- The whole place looks like a food market with less focus on flow of customers leaving visitors confused.

 

Now, I happen to visit Chitale sweets in Pune, India which is famous for its sweets & snacks.

Have I noticed anything.

Well yes, its the ordering techniques that these guys are using.

- Customer are given RFID embedded plastic bar when he enters.

- Customer takes that bar, goes to the respective counters & decide which sweet to buy

- Once he has decided he hands over this bar to the person at the counter who inputs what has been taken, quantity & price of the respective item,

- Once he his done with one counter the customer can go onto next counters and similarly do the same process incase he wants something else.

- Finally he goes to the payment counters and hands over the bar to the person who places the bar on a machine and checks what the customer has taken and how much to charge.

- The customer pays & walks out.


RFID BAR, Input of things purchased, Checkout

 

Benefits of system

- No paper involved, so saving the environment while using technology

- No need for handling different receipts of different counters & submitting at end. You just need to submit one bar.

- Works as a useful research tool for owners of shop to know what is being purchased as data is entered simultaneously.

- Proper flow is maintained in the shop reducing anxiety of users and thereby enhancing shopping experience

- Waiting times are drastically reduced as the processing gets faster(no need to input amount & quantity from various receipts), enhancing the user experience as well as processing more number of bills.

 

The technology has been developed by Chitale Digitals which is a sister concern of sweet shop. I checked with the owner & he mentioned they are using it for the past two years & right now an updated version is being developed.

Oh yes…..the bar can hold upto 11 transactions…..so you can purchase large number of sweets :)

 Useful example of designing a shopping experience using technology.

Thanks

Neeraj 

Monday, December 22, 2008

Play & Creativity

Hi guys

Now play has to do something with creativity. Play infuses a culture of openness, experimentation & expression thereby providing new ideas for breakthrough Innovation. While playing, we are not embarrassed to share our crazy ideas. Playing helps in setting up a friendly environment which is needed for idea generation & expression.

Have a look at this Video featuring Tim Brown(C.E.O IDEO) talking about link between play &  Creativity & how organizations around the world are infusing play into their organizations to infuse creative thinking.







Thanks

Neeraj

Source: You Tube

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Unarticulated needs


Hi everyone

One of the primary purpose of Design thinking is to uncover unarticulated needs of people.
Now First things first- What are Unarticulated needs- Unarticulated needs are those that people are not able to articulate or does not wish to articulate.

For eg: knowing how much weight will a particular box of chocolate will add incase you have it. Now i guess people will be hesistant in going and asking the person at retail store's cash counter to tell him/her about how much calories/weight will he/she put on incase they consume a particular box of chocolate. But once this need is noticed (lets say by manufacturer) they provide chances of Innovation. For eg: According to the mentioned  hypothetical scenario above, the chocolate manufacturer can determine that there is a group of customers who are wanting to have chocolate that does not add weight. so the manufacturer can launch new weight control chocolates at a premium which will cater to these customers. Incase,  the manufacturer does not wish to come up with totally new weight control chocolates, having noticed that customers are caring about their weight while purchasing chocolates, he can design the packs having information about how much pounds it will add to consumer. So in this way the customer will be delighted to know his answer without being embaressed to go & ask anyone.

Recently I was on a flight and noticed that in any flight lets assume there are two passengers who are overweight or tall, so they may not find themselves to be comfortable sitting in those cramped seats, they may also not wish to inform the airlines people as they may feel embarassed. So if an airlines operator picked this need up then in one row they may have two seats instead of normal three.What it does it that, it goes a long way in improving the experience of product or service & delighting the customer and converting him/her into a loyal customer.

Discovering Unarticulated needs provide a chance to create new products/services/experience and is one of the core tool to innovate.   

Neeraj 
Photo source: Corbis 
  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ladies Only

Hi Guys

A while ago in one of the articles i had written about FORCHE- a ladies only taxi service in Mumbai.

A similar concept has been launched in Pune- a cab service exclusively for women by the name of LET THEM DRIVE.

So apart from being safe & secure and only for women, is there anything other these services delivers. 

I guess one of the important thing that these services have done is that they have created a new market catering to specific target audience (only women) and because it is focussed on only specific target audience, all the elements  of service are developed keeping them in mind. What it does it that not just it is easy to design it delights the consumer as well.(Forsche offers its women-only passengers a mini make-up kit that includes a mirror, nail polish remover, cotton buds, clippers and nail files!!!!)  

Very often Designers & Marketers are faced with the classic question on whether to design, develop & offer products and services for wide variety of audience or to design products/services & offer to limited target audience which best meets his/her needs.

I guess the question remains to be answered

However Apart from being safe & Secure, I think these cab services are doing one more thing & that is 
to EMPOWER women(since the drivers are also women).


Neeraj  
  
Photosource: Hindu Businessline

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Product Innovation Workshop


Hi Guys

Yesterday, I attended a workshop organized by Elephantversity & Continuum(U.S.A) on Product Innovation Process. Conducted by Daniel Buchner (V.P of innovation & design) & Tom Burchard (Vice President of Brand Experience) of Continuum Inc U.S.A,

The workshop provided some interesting things to be kept in mind while innovating. After a brief talk on the difference between business thinking &  design thinking, 

Participants( while working in teams) were given various activities primarily focused on User Experience, Brand attributes & User Persona  through which they had to create a non working rough prototype of a mobile phone.

The main thing that I picked from the workshop was the focus on all three parameters which had to be kept in mind while developing a mobile phone - User Experience, Brand Attributes & Persona. All of these three parameters are of paramount importance while creating a new product or innovating with an existing one. Focus on all of these together can decide whether you will be a leader or follower.             Eg: Think of Apple........the company pays great focus on User experience as to what experience its users have at both purchase & post purchase process and therefore even the packs are designed so as per experience to be provided, the company also pays very high importance to integrating its Brand elements in every product & service that it makes & the company knows who its target customers are, what they are like, what are their problems and what solutions it should provide them.

   Any eg from India, how about Croma Electronics Store. Great User Experience- One can actually touch & operate the product himself (what we Indians like to do before buying), Brand attributes (Helpful) –that’s why I think they have their tagline as WE HELP YOU BUY and designed as per its user persona which are upper middle class who are not that much concerned about price but want products as per their needs- so the positioning is not as a discount store but as a solution store- that’s why WE HELP YOU BUY.

While creating new service or product it is very important to check whether certain level of thought has gone behind these principles & how they are integrated.

Overall a good day of learning.

In a discussion with Dan Buchner(V.P of innovation & design, Continuum), I happen to get some views about Innovation, design thinking, industries where innovation is easy, barriers to innovate in large organisation, how to eliminate them and during the current period of economic downturn whether the focus on Innovation should be less by companies or not.

Check them out.

 

Thanks

Neeraj 



video

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Community is Unity

Community forms the basis of human culture. Human interactions within and outside Community has been a reason for our development as well as for our destruction several times in course of human civilization. It has been very interesting how we have dwindled between importance and superiority of an Individual vis-à-vis Community. Communist government forms emerged with a great roar and died down with a great bang as well. They have been criticized immensely and got a way with the title of “Worst form of governance”. There are writings of several authors like Ayn Rand (We the Living and Atlas Shrugged) who have described how Communism appears to be for the well being of all but threatening for an individual’s existence.
In times whenever humanity has been attacked by humanity, Community Design has emerged as the need of time irrespective of the societal set up whether it is Democracy or Capitalism. The idea of Community thus seems inseparable from Individuals. Communist governments might have failed due to total negligence to Individualism but Individuals and Community will always exist together or they will never exist. My friend has discussed Community policing in the previous blog as of the solution for handling crime in the society. There are several other Community initiatives which can lead us to a closer to perfect society. The world of Business especially web world is even inspired from the Community concept and creating businesses around it. Few examples are Community websites like Orkut and Facebook. The recent initiatives and discussed in one of the blogs below is www.Jaagore.com by Tata Tea which trying to sow seeds of awareness and responsibility in masses by a Communityinitiative. Another very good example is Community Matters, an addition to new age journalism: Citizen Journalism. I came to know about it through on an article titled “Citizen Journalism finds a new platform: the Web” in newspaper Mint on Thursday, November 20th. The article discusses genesis of this website called Citizen Matters which is an online interactive web magazine. This magazine is driven completely by Community contribution and is a hot spot for local news in Bangalore to the extent that 2-3 newspapers keep a constant watch on the content published by it. This magazine is a good example how Individuals can create and participate in Community initiatives for successful social or business initiatives. Let us realise that existence of Individual and Community is mutual.

Check out the article at www.livemint.com
Image sources: www.livemint.com, www.rtpi.org.uk

Innovative way to get people early to office

Hi people, now what benefit could a company have if its people come to office early.

1. they are refreshed
2. they dont get stuck in peak hour traffic jams
3. The company saves cost on petrol of its buses while they are stuck in traffic jams
4. People of other offices  & in general don't get late cause chances of a congestion on road reduces and as a result the nation saves a lot of petrol & time.

But the problem is how to get people early to office without enforcing  punishinment. Same problem was faced by India's Top Information Technology Company Infosys. Working on a Collaborative project with Stanford university (Instant- A Infosys Stanford Traffic project) they reframed the problem of people do not wanting to come to office early by how they can make people come to office early. 
Instead of punishing latecomers they developed an incentive system which pays monetary incentives(AT THE END OF EACH MONTH)to people who reaches early. 

How does it work 
1. The project works on points which are credited to people who come early (before 8:30 a.m).
2. The points are accumalated and at the end of month a computerized lottery choose two early comers who earned 20 points who are rewarded Rs. 12000 each while four others are given Rs. 6000 each. 

But whats the advantage  
1. Saving on fuel worth Rs. 20000 everyday
2. Manpower not fatigued & refreshed


How has been the response 
Since the start of project in October, it has attracted about 3000 new early commuters & around 500 earlycommers have already been awarded.

We often say that problems cannot be solved, but i guess if we just try to focus on 
user's needs & motives (here early commuters) than I guess every problem whether big or small
will be solved & the outcome will be enjoyed by whole society. 

Neeraj

Source of Article: Times of India   
Photo Source: Corbis.com

Friday, November 28, 2008

Community Policing

Hi all

Right now as we all know rescue operation is going on in Mumbai to flush out Terrorists from Hotels & Nariman House. Couple of things crossed my mind & I kind of thought that how can we make our cities & countries moresafer. I remembered an example that somebody narrated to me about J.K Tripathy and the policemen of Trichy & other cities of Tamil Nadu (southern state of India).

Based on the notion that in society only 5 percent are deviants but we tend to alienate 95%, He has utilized the 95%(which involve normal people) & through their help have been able devise a system where police through the help of normal public are been able to restore law, order & bring peace. 

His idea of a beat system after studying concepts of British Bobbies & Japanese Koban system of policing where police officers are seen as a gentle brother has helped in redefining the perception of local police officers who now have more participation & co-operation from local people in maintaining harmony. Bringing Officers closer to community, he has increased participation from local people in providing & discussing any information with each other that may prevent any mishap.

For the efforts Trichy Police has been awarded & are also been taken up as a case study.

But an improve cooperation & understanding among Police & people, i guess is the biggest award.

 

Keeping the spirit of Mumbai alive

 

Neeraj 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Recession: An opportunity for Innovative Companies



Recently read an article from Guardian titled:  Bright Ideas for darkdays.

The article lists some innovative strategies being used of companies in this hour of recession & mentions that through Innovation companies can turn these times of despair into opportunity. 

here is a snapshot of article

for full article check


Main points mentioned 
- Companies investing during recession & having faith gain strategic advantage.                                 eg: Apple & Google are given. 


-Companies need to innovate rapidly as consumer trends in sluggish economy change fast. (was not able to think of an example....incase you know please let me know any example of how they change fast)

- Consumers become more Value conscious & new business models start emerging. eg: of Silverjet & Travelodge are given


- Companies with resources view recession as buyer's market & acquire more resources. EG: of Tesco buying Tesco Personal Finance from Royal Bank of Scotland is given.


So as they say FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real.
Dont have fear & innovate with confidence.


Thanks 
Neeraj 

Article Source : Guardian, 
Pics Source: Travelodge & Tesco Finance & Insurance

Its Time to Wake Up !!

Hi  guys 
Couple of articles soon coming up as i had a kind of insightful weekend.

In the mean time 
have a look at this ad taken from Economic times for ET awards. 


An amazing ad motivating Indians to start something. 

really i have noticed that Ideas are Dime a dozen, but its execution is what counts. 

So people start something in which you beleive in. 

As said 
Have a purpose and means will follow.

For a larger view of ad 

check out more ads at 

Neeraj 
Source: Economic Times

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Insights from India

Hi guys

A friend on mine gave me this picture & a video which she took while she visited Jammu, India.

The picture is taken in a temple of Jammu showcasing an instrument having temple bells, dhol, etc.  What it does is that since there is only one priest in the temple, he uses this instrument for doing aarti (songs sung in praise of the deity, when offering of lamps is being offered). 

                                      Instead of having lot of people(which are normally required) for ringing bells, dhol, etc during aarti, the priest operates this instrument which has been designed in such a way that it can be used single handedly to ring bells, dhol, etc while doing Aarti.

An example showcasing how design most often originates out of Need & a desire to solve problems with limited resources.

Also a great example of multi tasking. Think of ways how we can devise such things in offices, etc.    

The second thing is a video showcasing leaf being used as a tattoo. This is also taken in Jammu. A real, organic Tattoo and may be a opportunity to design a business of Organic Tattoos like this.

                                           video

Incidently She informed me about an interesting Insight which she had observed in several temples. She noticed that bells are normally hung in line, in such a way that if you swing one bell & let it hit another one, than that will hit another one and so on leading to a Domino effect. So one person, in one go can ring all bells.

I guess after this conversation & as mentioned by her, India is full of interesting insights & other useful innovations to be noted. 

Thanks to Seema

Neeraj 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dialogue on Innovation

Innovation 100: World Economic Forum recently organised a meeting in Palo Alto inviting top 100 thought leaders in an effort to initiate a dialogue on Innovation. The objective was to explore innovation from a global, regional & corporate level with focus on two areas: Culture of Innovation & location of Innovation.
Below are some of the videos feturing Tim Brown(CEO IDEO),Sam Pitroda & Judy Estrin talking about what do they think Innovation is, trends & their take from the discussion. 
Other videos on You tube.










Neeraj 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2 guys & 100 bottles of water

Got this video from You tube

The title is 2 dudes 100 bottles of water

 






The concept is that these guys are sending water bottles to Ghana with people writing inspirational & love messages on bottles.

Lesson: By writing messages on bottles these guys are personalizing the offering at the same time connecting (making emotional bond) both donor & receiver. Now consider the same concept applied to day to day products/services with emotional elements added to it. With more and more products & services coming into the market, I think whoever is able to connect with their Target customer at emotional level will be able to connect, create & generate loyalty. I think that’s why IBM has infused these experiential & emotional elements even to their sales pitch process.(Read article below)

 Thats precisely i think what design thinking aims to do. By knowing & connecting with customers it aims to solve their problems(which results in creation of emotional bonding) & is totally customer focused which results in creating loyalty from customers.

May be There are other ways to connect with your customers emotionally.  Mention if you know any.

 

Connect +Create + Generate

Neeraj 

Monday, November 17, 2008

Articles

Hi all

Couple of Interesting articles posted recently on Business Week.

1. IBM Reshaping its Sales Meetings & using design to do that

2. Obama's Seven Lessons for Radical Innovators

3. India Inc: A Lesson in Business Design

First about IBM Article: The article talks about how IBM infusing design thinking for reshaping how sales teams bring new business.

First things first, (According to the article) design thinking is about observing what customers wants and then creating, testing, refining prototype to address those desires. Keeping in mind this approach IBM found out points when their clients were pleased & what made them unhappy. Based on their analysis they have reshaped their sales meetings right from making first contact with prospective client.

The whole process from contacting client to closing a deal with him is divided into three phase process known as KNOW, FLOW & GROW. The sales members now are given extremely detailed guidelines of what to show, tell & when to speak.

Since design thinking also points out to be empathetic to the user needs which in this case is the client, IBM noted suitable experience like signs at reception welcoming clients & national flags, pronouncing clients names correctly, properly arranging their arrival at office, etc pleased clients & provided a more relaxed, friendly & humane environment different from normal corporate culture.

From this article I noted that the focus is on infusing Human Centered design even into the process of Sales meeting. I still remember how Japanese companies focused on such details (from first contact of meeting us and till we left) while some of us visited them. So moral of Story no 1: Try to be empathetic & look from customer's view. Old saying but immense learning

 

The Second article talks about Obama's Seven lessons for Radical Innovators. The article mentions 7 lessons for radical Innovators.

 Learning from that article: Maximize purpose of not only of doing incremental things but thinking of changing the world & uniting people to achieve the same. Check Seth Godin latest book Tribe which talks about building tribes of people having a common purpose and starting a revolution. I think in the coming years innovators/companies will have to unite people toward a common purpose with the aim to have a revolution.

Third Article is by Heather Fraser (Rotman professor) who talks about her experience while she was in India(& visited Welingkar). Heather ponits out some of the Business Design principles that everyone should consider like Practising Rule of 10%, having broader platforms for collaboration, Technology as infrastructure, Mobilizing the masses & Rethinking the model. I noticed here the focus on challenging. She mentions that instead of thinking of devising models to pay unemployed we should devise models which will employ the unemployed. For e.g.: like a model of Dabbawallas.

As design thinkers/innovators Challenge is very important. We need to challenge the status quo inorder to innovate.

So in the end three articles focusing on three important parameters of design thinking which are being Empathetic to user needs , having a purpose so that people can be become part of that purpose and Challenging the status quo.

Neeraj  

link to articles 

http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/nov2008/id20081110_227229.htm?campaign_id=rss_innovate

http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/nov2008/id20081110_227229.htm?campaign_id=rss_innovate

http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/nov2008/id2008113_086323.htm?campaign_id=rss_innovate

Source:http://www.businessweek.com/