My feeds

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Indian Grassroot Innovations

A question just came to my mind.

Is 'Necessity the mother of all Innovations!!!'.

I mean we all have heard of Innovation processes of large blue chip companies which hire people from crème de la crème Institutes who work to solve problems with the objective to find the next growth path for company or solve economic & society issues.

But what exactly motivates a common man to come up with an Innovative Idea? What Motivates him/her to create something new with bare minimum resources? What makes them to persevere even after many failures?

Do they have the need to change things which makes them to carry on & Innovate.

Below are some of the many, many examples from India wherein common people have Innovated & changed things at the same time creating a possibility to set up new entrepreneurial Indian Ventures.


Check out the following Videos of INDIAN INNOVATORS. Also check out the National Innovation Foundation providing institutional support in scouting, spawning, sustaining and scaling up grassroots innovations and helping their transition to self supporting activities.

What can we do to make these unique Ideas into a profitable & sustaining businesses & unlock their massive values?

Some of the colleges like Welingkar Institute of Management have already started this process (of which I was part of, while I was in Welingkar) of providing marketing & business knowledge assistance & are developing business concepts/models.

Here are the Videos

More Videos on Youtube. Type Indian Innovators




Photo source: by Primus D'Mello

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

TED GLOBAL: Looking forward for these talks

Hi Everyone

TedGlobal is over. Following are three main talks that I am eagerly waiting to see:

1) DAN Pink: Looking forward for the talk by Dan pink wherein he demonstrates that giving incentives may not necessarily lead to better & quick performance as the nature of problems been faced by employees have changed over the years. Presently people work on problems which are abstract, ambiguous & which have never been solved before. In these kind of problems there can be a possibility of multiple results so it his hard to focus on one particular goal. Can we use Design tools & methods & combine it with Business logic to create something new & beneficial.

Waiting for his talk .

2) The second talk that I am lItalicooking forward is from Janine Benyus. Janine Benyus works in the field of bio-mimicry & by looking at the natural world she designs things elegantly. One of the key takeaway from her talk will be to infuse cross-disciplinary learning. For eg: She mentions JR West, makers of high-speed bullet trains, found that when they entered tunnels the train built up pressure and created the equivalent of a sonic boom. Engineers looked at how the kingfisher entered the water and redesigned the train. It solved the problem of the tunnel noise, made the train 10% faster and 15% more efficient.

How we can solve present problems using this cross disciplinary learning. What we can Observe, learn & implement from our surroundings to solve our problems like developing 100% eco friendly plastic, etc. Looking forward for her talk.

3) The third talk that I am waiting for is by Tim Brown where he asks "What happens if you move from design to design-making?". He talks about how the field of design has changed over the years with designers shifted from broader view to narrower view & focused on aesthetics. He mentions that the field of design is once again changing by focusing on human centricity. Designers are now shifting from their sole focus on ergonomics to focusing on human needs & designing products/services/businesses around them. He also points out the importance of prototyping.

Looking forward for this talk.

Incidentally, before going to his talk, Tim had asked people via twitter (#CBDQ) the kinds of questions design thinking might be used to tackle.

I also participated, Here are my list of questions that I sent which I think design thinking might be used to tackle.

1. To measure the carbon footprint

2. To develop solutions that instead of depleting resources, actually create them

3. How to ensure that everyone votes in elections (100% voter turnout) anywhere specially countries like India.

4. Providing MENTAL Insurance to people with depression.

5. When will we get rid of wires & be wireless (remove TV, radio, electrical appliances electric cords)...have power trans wirelessly

6. How can design thinking used to replace plastic (bottles, bags, etc) with viable & sustainable material.

7. How can DT be used so that everyone wants to be fit resulting to healthy nation.

8. Can one be given fitness points for working out & can they redeem it similar to carbon credit in fitness centers, etc.

9. Can DT be used to know what Infants want ?

10. How can we enable people from different disciplines understand each others perspective clearly.

11. How to assess/measure one's skills

12. Ensuring everybody(who is req to pay) pays taxes

13. How to connect B2B together to create a network & helping each other

14. How to help executives multitask

15. How to make school more fun- in a way that students enjoy being there

16. How to make a paint so that no bills/spray paint can stick on them & damage city walls

17. How one can learn foreign language without much effort/ how people from diff countries communicate quickly & efficiently.

18. How to induce people to use eco friendly bags at the same time make business sense

19. Helping traffic police reduce traffic congestions & streamline traffic

20. Helping anyone to understand how to operate a product/service very easily

21. Providing a simulated & interactive experience of travel, food, language & culture to travelers before visiting a place

22. Helping companies, individuals, etc to reframe their problems & provide multiple possibilities

23. Helping neighbors to start interaction with each other

24. How to engaging people who have retired to create value

25. Helping youngsters find & create their unique identity

26. In what way experience can be STORED shared

27. How can other employees rate their peers Anonymously

28. How can we change the mindset of people in companies

29. For developing solutions so that I dont have to shave for weeks

30. For generating conversations among strangers

31. To connect seekers with offerers of service, products, education. Etc

32. To keep a track of our nutrition intake.

Looking forward for these talks




Sunday, July 26, 2009


Theodre Levitt said “ The purpose of business is to create & keep a customer”

So how can a company Create & Keep a customer. One way to do is to understand the people its is catering to, inorder to draw insights which can be converted into Business ideas leading to growth & creation of markets.

Now Understanding & capturing insight is done using Quantitative Studies like Focus Group Interviews. Although these methods are fruitful to some extent, some of the limitations of these methods are that they provide limited insights from the user, their inadequacy to provide any information about user’s behavior, emotions, feelings, pain points etc. The tools acted as evaluation tools rather than insight capture tools.

Qualitative Studies like Ethnography are being increasing used to capture Insights from Customers/Users/Staff inorder to understand their satisfactions, limitations, pain points, etc which can be used to determine the next big Idea.

In the last post I had mentioned about the book Ethnography for Marketers. I have been reading on this subject .Through this post, I would like to demystify the Ethnography – what is it, why & where it is Used, How it is used, when it is used

So what is Ethnography

Ethnography is observing customers/ Users in their natural environment to find their frustrations, limitations, satisfactions, pain points etc with the objective to acquire insights into the users needs & wants. The field is drawn from anthropology & sociology.

Why & Where it is Used

Ethnography is used to complement Focus Groups Interviews inorder to gain insights. The main objective of Ethnographic studies is to understand customers in their natural context (home/office/retail store, etc). It is mainly used when little is known about the target market or when fresh insights are desired from a segment. In the present scenario when customer’s taste & preferences are constantly changing, it help companies to maintain an understanding of their customers & keep a track of their constant changing needs, issues & wants. Ethnographic studies can be used to understand the interaction of customer with product /service (for eg: ATM, website, retail). It can be used to assess the corporate cultures. It can also be used to understand how the user interacts with the processes of a product/ service (using a remote/operating a machine). The tools are used for discovering latent needs of customer for new product discovery, new service discovery, etc.

How It is Used

There are various Ethnographic tools which are available. They are used in the natural context of a user/customer/employee. Some of the tools are:

a. Observing the Product/Service Usage

b. Day In life

c. Mystery Shopping

d. Guerrilla Ethnography: Researcher not disclosing that he is researching

How is it Different from Market Research

Ethnography seeks to understand the behavior of people in their natural environment & their interaction with the product/service. The study seek to draw out emotions, perceptions, pain points, aspirations & beliefs that users may have with respect to products/services. It complements Market Research.

Guidelines for Ethnographers

a. Being in the Users Context: The main Objective is to be in the user’s context inorder to view & understand how the product is being used. What are the pain points, limitations of products, what workaround the customer has created, what is the role of product in the life of customer, etc.

b. Being Subject Oriented: The ethnographer has to be subject/user oriented suspending his own assumptions. The focus should be on learning & observing rather than evaluation of concepts.

c. Flexible: The other objective is to be flexible & not restrict to a pre planned questionnaire.

Here is a Video I found on Vimeo explaining what is Ethnography.

What is Ethnography? from Steve Inskeep on Vimeo.

Now ,Jan Chip Chase is a Principal researcher from Nokia who travels around the world and inside our pockets in search of behavioral patterns that will inform the design of products we don't even know. Here is a presentation he made at TED. Following the video is the Slideshow featuring some of the techniques being used.

But the question remains How we can organise observations to draw insights patterns.

Lets see...will be exploring this week.



Sources: Article Inspiration: Ehtnography For Marketers, Hy Mariampolski

Video & Slide Source: ,

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ethnography for Marketers

Hi Everyone
One of the questions I keep reading is that what is the difference between Market Research & Enthnographic research.
A lot has been written about Ethnographic Research & how it is different from Market Research but still there was still a need to understand Ethnographic Research Techniques from a Practical Marketers perspective.

Just got this book Titled Ethnography for Marketers: A guide to consumer immersion by Hy Mariampolski.
The book provides a practical guide to what ethnographic research is, how is it different from market research, why marketers should use ethnographic research techniques,etc .

Am presently reading it. One can find a preview of the book at


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tim Brown- IDEO speaking at TED Global in Oxford

Tim Brown (CEO IDEO) is speaking at TED Global in Oxford next week on the topic of what happens when we move from design to design thinking. One of the things he his trying to do, is to get the audience to suggest the kinds of questions design thinking might be used to tackle. To facilitate this he is using a Twitter hash tag #CBDQ to allow people to post their suggestions. The latest ones can be seen at or by searching the #CBDQ tag. It would be great to get that underway in advance of his talk. If you have any briefs or problems you think would be interesting then please go ahead and post them.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Design Thinking & Innovation Update

Hi Everyone

It’s been a great Design & Innovation week. Here are couple of Interesting Information from the field of Innovation & Design.

1. A fine line - Hartmut Esslinger's (founder of Frog Design) book a fine line is out. The book offers a step-by-step overview of the innovation process from targeting goals to shepherding new products and services to the marketplace in order to reveal how to arrive at an authentic human design that connects strongly with consumers. One of the chapter is available on the site ( Having gone through it, the book seems to highlight the changing role Design is playing in not only designing products or services but being increasingly used by companies to Innovate & earn profits.

Check out the video of Hartmut Esslinger.

2. Guy Kawasaki explains the Art of Innovation in 10 steps at Cisco Live. Check it out.

3. DMI Rebranding - Design Management Institute has undergone rebranding. Check it out how they did it (

A Great Article was published by DMI on Business week talking about how Innovation strategy, brand strategy & design strategy being practiced together makes design as one of the primary idea generators for the creation of viable business platforms.

Check the article at (

4. Building Innovation radar MIT Sloan School of Management visiting professor Alan MacCormack explains about how to create Innovation Radar for companies to innovate constantly. Check out the Podcast at which he give examples of Intel & organization resorting to student competitions to create Innovation radars.

5. D.Light- In Pune we spotted Dlight's all purpose portable lamp at a local Super market. D light is a solar powered lighting company that came out of Stanford D School. The company adopts design thinking philosphy & has the purpose of providing light for 100 million products by 2020. The company operates in India, China & East Africa.

6. Created Indian Design & Innovation Group at wenovski. Wenovski is a global network of Design & Innovation Thinkers.

Check it out at Would appreciate if you would join.




Sunday, July 5, 2009

Reframing - A key skill of a Design Thinker

Reframing.....Reframing is one of the key skills of a Design thinker. Reframing involves a break from the traditional way of seeing things & framing in new context to generate new ideas. Reframing helps in generating new ways to create value which others may have missed. Eg: At the time when digital music download was considered as piracy and many were against it, Apple reframed the problem as to how to provide digital music, be legal & at the same time generated business value from it. An Indian Example is how J.K Tripathy of Trichy Police reframed the issue of police deriving power from the constitution to deriving power from people & developing a community policing system leading to drop in crime rates. Another example could be the Carpooling System(Mega Car Pool) in Delhi reframing a question of people driving alone leading to more cars & pollution with how can people help each other in reaching a place at the same time earning incentives.

Patrick Witney (Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology) talked about Reframing & its Importance at the inauguration of the recently conducted Innovation Summit. Here’s the video of the same.

Give it a Thought how can you reframe the problems around you & convert it into Opportunities. James Moed of Ideo has written an article on Reframing Recession.

Check It out at



Photo Source:

Video Source:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Reimagining Newspaper & Print Publication

In May, New York Times (online)posted an article about revival efforts needed for Wired Magazine and what steps the team is taking. ( There has been a talk recently about a need to re look how newspaper operate inorder to develop solutions which are beneficial for newspaper industry. Now, Why is the print media (newspaper & magazine) not doing well in present times when people are educated, likes to be informed and at the same time curious. In times when being Informed is necessary and people seek information, newspaper & print media are not doing well.

Have a look at what Larry Keeley of Doblin is saying with regards to the same problem & what newspaper & print media seems to have missed.

So are people doing something about the issue. Well yes, Some people have already taken initiatives.

Have a look at this presentation on Innovation in Newspapers. The videos provide examples from The Strait, The Daily Telegraph & Florida Today highlighting some initiatives they are taken.

Jacek Utko gave presentation in this year's TED on how he redesigned the newspaper resulting in increase in circulation.

So what else we can do. Is there a shift needed in the business model, do we need to look at new buyer segment, do newspaper need to be more personalized, etc

Can design thinking save the newspaper Industry. let's think about it.



Photo Source:

Video Sources:,,,,