Posts Tagged 'Ideation'

When Engineers Ideated on Pins

I did a session on ideation at PESIT in Bangalore, recently, as part of Nandini’s entrepreneurship course there. This was different from the last time when I did a session at SIMB. You can read about the session here. Now, we tried to play with certain ideation related myths and in the end also gave them an activity on creativity, what the bunch of students did was mind-blowing.

This time round, we also did some thought exercises around how to ideate better and how we tend not to share our ideas for fear of peer ridicule. It was fun, as the engineers found their own shortcuts into the exercises which proved to be even more deadlier than the finer points I was trying to drive in. At the end of the session, we gave them a task to get as creative as possible with 5 paper pins, some of them were given an agenda of thinking big and some of them were asked to keep it as personally relevant as possible.

The teams sailed through the next day with ideas ranging from making toys for children and using the pins for color and shape identification to using the pins to make flexible photo frames. Some of them used it more symbolically to make a circuit to represent the importance of adapting to change and some others used the meaning of pins (to support or hold together) to launch a website to help with social causes. Some very practical ideas ranging from jewellery to insulin shots (through capillary action) also emerged. One of the teams had a very interesting idea on using the pins to create a solenoid effect and light up a string of LEDs and use pins to create a 3D effect on a picture. The most funniest idea prize goes to the team which came up with the thought that they could use the pins to do acupuncture on fish to make them unconscious while being transported live and then bring them back to life through another acupuncture process. They had the whole class in splits for several minutes!

The whole class had a lot of fun and shows tremendous potential. Wishing them all the best with their entrepreneurial ideas!

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Ideas come dime a dozen…

I recently took a session on Ideation at SIMB (thanks to Nandini!). We both believe that the entrepreneurs need to realize the potential of thinking big and start looking around them for ideas. More often than not when participating in entrepreneurship workshops we tend to look upon it as another course and turn to traditional sources of information (read Internet) to get ideas. When starting up a company/thinking of starting up a company it is as important to look within yourself as to look outside. It is somewhere in the intersection that the magic lies…

Here’s the slide deck that I covered at the session. It is just pointers to different ideas that people have had over the past few years – some successful, others not as much, but great ideas nevertheless and that is where great things begin to happen.

 Ideas are dime a dozen

One of the myths I wanted to dispel was related to the statement many people used “ideas are dime a dozen”. I asked the students to come up with a few business ideas – I got less than 5 from a group of 50 and later I heard about 3 more  – thats all. While it is easy to dismiss this statement, I take the following stand – what the statement really means is that “talk is cheap”, it really doesn’t mean that “ideas are easy to come by”. Also, an idea in itself is not going to execute itself and being an entrepreneur is a tough job. One needs to brace oneself for the roller coaster ride and not delude oneself that a “cool” idea is going to see you through.

Having covered some ground on that, I asked the students if they believed all of them had the capability to come up with ideas. The answer was a resounding yes – more confirmation to the fact that I was standing amidst potential entrepreneurs!!! It all starts with a belief that then gets tuned into your system that then constantly seeks for ideas or gaps in the current way of doing things that can be potential opportunities. So, it is very important to believe that you can do it and then start thinking and looking around for ideas like a habit (like breathing)

Lastly, we played a game together. I seed funded the 9 teams in the class and gave them one hour to make as much money as they can. What happened in the next 90 minutes was beyond my imagination! So, I will just narrate it. Each of the teams started with some idea and iterated through it quickly, with quite a few of them changing the initial idea that they had started with. One of the teams rotated their capital and did the same business twice over in the given time and the others realized that the customers will pay only when there is at least a chance of  them winning and hence, positioning matters. Most of them figured out a “good enough” market opportunity to address within the constraints of the “budget” and “time” given to them and set about their tasks. Some of them sold juice, some burgers, some bike rides to the nearest bus stand and a few others resorted to gambling (card games and sports bets).

The most interesting of the lot were two teams – one of who made the most money by throwing in a lucky dip contest and got about 90 people to sign up with them and the other team started offering an “internal services” to me for managing the various teams, their members, amount collected etc!

At the end of it all, we all had a lot of fun and made some money too! Loved the energy of the group and their enthusiasm to get going. Hope it was as much fun for the teams too…looking forward to more such interactions.


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