Archive for the 'innovation' Category

Too small an order…

…a refrain I’ve heard so often that I’m beginning to wonder whether I’m thinking too small or it is just a sales gimmick in India? It seems to be everywhere if you are the one trying to manufacture or make something- electronic toys, wooden toys, cardboard boxes, plastic games or toys. No one seems to be interested in creating a proof with you to move you to the next level, everyone wants the straight cut 10k piece order. The ones who are willing to do cut lots of corners on quality!

Is our manufacturing sector so bottom line stingy that it does not take ANY risks? How will we create a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship on such an ecosystem and mindset?

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Mega Mart Shopping Bag!

I was typing something furiously away at my computer and looked away for a second when my eyes fell on this Mega Mart shopping bag. It read “Women, Men, Kids, Youth, Accessories, Footwear, Luggage, Home”. All in the same breath. All in the same color. All in the same font! I can’t stop smiling…coz a thought had struck…

What if…? Could we…? Someday…? go to a mart to buy – Women, Men, Kids, Youth and a Home – made to order? Really? Is it possible? Is it far away? Is it close enough? Are we headed that way?

What do you think?

Uncomplicating Things

It is interesting how we end up complicating things way beyond necessary sometimes. Today I heard a comment, “You need a process around your process!” As if having one process was not good enough, you add a couple of layers on top of it so that neither you nor anyone looking at it later can understand what it was meant to do at the first place.

Let’s try and keep things simple. Uncomplicate. We need to scale but do we need to embrace complexity for the sake of it?

IIT heads complain of plunge in quality

Today I read a news article in Times of India titled, “IIT heads echo NRN on plunge in quality”. The whole article goes on to talk about how the seats in IITs today are getting filled by students who are fatigued by years of coaching and in the larger scheme of things, don’t even want to be an engineer. It is sad state of affairs, indeed. But to hear the heads of the institutes complain, instead of do something about it, is sadder. This could have been easily seen coming and here are some thoughts of mine

1. If you set up an exam that is hard to achieve and pass through and prevent people with interest from joining unless they can showcase aptitude 2x the current level of education system. This kind of ‘fatigue’ is bound to happen. We, as Indians, are proud to pass through tests that are seemingly insurmountable and that give you a certain kind of ‘elitist’ status over others! Take the civil services, for example. Most people taking the exam don’t even know what they will be doing post the selection! It is the same with students who are getting coached to get into IITs (and to a large extent the CAT fever too! – they are being taught how to beat the system!!!) – while it will take you across the threshold, it will not get you inspired and motivated to become an excellent engineer or an excellent manager (or a good anything)

2. Next, what have the IITs themselves done to inspire the students joining to wake up out of fatigue and create interest? Is there an emphasis on innovation, creativity or even applying the skills being learnt beyond the basics? If so, where is it being showcased? It is a chicken and egg story and only if you focus on inspiring students will they get inspired and motivated – the other way round is an ideal dream, but can you make it a reality by just cribbing about it?

3. Now, lets look at the industry. These children who join the IITs are very smart and the smartness flows to where they money is. If money is in engineering, they will continue being engineers, if it is in pharma/FMCG/ITES companies, they will get trained to become sales people for Pharma/FMCG/consultants, as the requirement might be. Look at it from their point of view and the society’s point of view, if you are the best of brains and you are not earning the best of salaries, you are a loser! There is no premium on thinking, being different, being unique or standing up for what you are passionate about (let alone sometimes even figure out what is it that you are really passionate about!) and then what about the self-fulfilling prophecy of these large institutes that the most successful people come from there?

4. That brings us to the story of change. What should change to make this better? The mantra is – Innovation and Creativity to create a “thinking generation” of students! The institutes needs to innovate at a much faster rate and create a new form of entry criteria, a new way of working with the corporate world, a new wave of innovation from their labs and that will create enough inspiration and motivation even in the most fatigued or uninterested child to beat and excel the system (where the system is aligned and focused in the right direction)

The seeds of change lie in you, if you are unwilling to lay them in the ground, don’t fret over lousy results!!!

PS: On second thoughts, whatever has been written above is a law of averages and I’ve seen enough inspired, motivated and self-aware IITians over my work life to be impressed by their smartness, hard work, dedication and motivation. So, please don’t take this as a personal note on anyone. I’m just responding to the system’s response on its own intake quality!

Playing with light and shadows

Recently, as I was driving on the outer ring road around noon time, I had a strange experience. I was about to move to my left on the three lane road when I realized that there was “something” on my blind spot. I steered clear. It happened again and then, once more. All this while, I didn’t have to adjust my speed or peer over my back – nothing! I saw the shadow of the vehicle and that’s what caught my eye as I was about to change lanes. The vehicle was an autorickshaw, the type used to carry goods, not people and the driver was happily tagging me.

It reminded me of another instance, where I observed a child make out all kinds of shapes and meanings from shadows and gleefully experiment with the movement of shadows! It got me thinking, there are lot of times our mind tries to tell us things as an interplay of lights and shadows, in those flashes of insights, but do we care to listen? Are we observing these subtle changes and warning signs? Especially, when there are difficult decisions to make, who and what are we listening to?

Umbrella Innovation

It is raining non-stop in Bangalore for the past few hours. I happened to be walking for a much longer distance than I generally do during a rainy day. Imagine this, I’m walking on a road, with a non-functioning drain, so road is acting as one and more than half the road is flooded with filthy water forcing me to walk in the middle of the road. Now, it is a two-way road and vehicles need to move both ways. A car almost narrowly misses me from behind and then another.

My spontaneous reaction both the times was to look towards my left and right in search of my rear view mirrors (as in the car) to check how I missed the cars. Well, obviously there were no rear view mirrors, so instead…an idea emerged. What if, we had a rearview mirror that could be attached to an umbrella or even better was part of foldable umbrellas and were foldable themselves so that we could easily use them when required and fold them in when not required.

What do you think? Would it be an interesting contraption to invent and use? Would you buy and use one if it were available in a store nearby?

Next service to move online?

I have spent two entire days trying to call up the cooking gas agency services as I’m running about my day to day activities. On one of my tries a fresh thought crossed my mind and left me smiling. I imagined a situation where it was possible to order gas online and what fun that would have been!

Imagine the efficiency possible for the gas agencies and the freedom that it would give the customers. The rest of it in terms of payments etc can still be managed the same way it had always been so all they need to do is an online order placement system and that is one of the simplest forms to add on a website.

So, my wishlist – can the next service to move onto the online bandwagon be – cooking gas booking? Who else thinks it is worthwhile? Help spread the word by tweeting this.  🙂

Update: Apparently, they have launched an IVR service for Indane and that’s why I could not get across any “real” human being on the phone. What if they had put a recorded message on at least one of their phones, would have saved us a lot of heartache! Grrr, Hmph….

Post Script: We placed an order via the IVR system and the gas came within two days, viola!


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