Human Side of Innovation

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Yesterday, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion on the ‘Human Side of Innovation’ at NHRD Mumbai. It was a spirited discussion, thanks to the diversity of views on the panel including members from academia, industry and consulting. While no set of bullet points can do justice to the interactivity and experience, here are some key takeaways from the evening…


  • Innovation may begin in the corner office, or the shop floor, or just about anywhere Creativity has the opportunity to flourish
  • Sometimes, organizations may need to resort to “formal” systems of innovation – or establish an “Innovation Cell” – to facilitate a sense of urgency among its team members
  • Some organizations focus on ideas that they would otherwise reject, examining them more closely, to ensure that significant business opportunities are not missed
  • One way of looking at “Innovation” may be to see it as “problem solving on a large scale” e.g. No easy way to book bus tickets online for an individual can be the motivation for the birth of RedBus
  • Gen Y is more in touch with the ever-changing dynamics of the modern world, potentially giving them an advantage to spot trends, if they can assimilate these inputs and work towards identifying opportunities for Innovation
  • Reverse Mentorship – the idea of learning from younger members in the organization (typically half your age) – may just be an idea whose time has come
  • Since our ability to “predict” events is in any case limited, one way to pursue the Innovation agenda is to use Analytics, deep dive into data, and look for outliers as the opportunity itself, rather than something to be discarded
  • Finally, Innovation thrives where there is an opportunity to learn, experiment, iterate and fail; It is incumbent on the business leaders (and managers) of today to enable a culture that allows this to happen – a culture that rewards new ideas instead of ones that maintain status quo

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