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Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

A boon for poor rural folks. No thanks to established companies, govt R & D, institutes of management, universities….

Surprisingly this is not from Ludhiana, but from South!

Watch it here optionally.

Worth refinement and large-scale adoption.

vide Suresh Dsouza

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How About…

Mumbai: Goof-up delayed police, cost two children’s lives in Ghatkopar

Read the report on the goof up here.

Updated: Oct 11, 2019, 07:36 IST | Anurag Kamble

Due to a miscommunication when information was passed on by Mumbai police, Pune police took down a wrong registration number and ended up chasing the wrong car at the time when the Ghatkopar man was strangling his kids……..

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appending a check-digit to the car number? It’s a key numeric object in many crime and accident cases to avoid misreporting.. Of course, means more fin-eco cost to accomodate an extra digit and repainting those plates. May be at least with new registrations or some intelligent data-based subsetting like only for vehicles for hire if the data shows they’re usually the get-away vehicles?…

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Weeks ago, my daughter visiting from US brought a small device.

It was a night lamp. With a motion sensor!

Peel off the cover on its back and stick it to the wall and you’re on. As simple as that.

So when it finds someone walking, it lights up the way.

And thoughtfully it comes in pairs.

Useful to help the old, for example, when they get up in the night sleepy-eyed to go to toilet. One device for the way up and another for return, especially when there is a bend.

Costs some $25 to $30.

Here’s a simple device that makes tending a wee bit easier and life safer for the old. Am sure there must be other uses too.

But it’ll be years before it’s made in this country, if at all.

It’s nothing new – the concept and the opportunity of putting electronics and miniaturization to help in daily life for some strange reason never captured the fancy of young engineers and entrepreneurs in this country. And with it a huge potential for employment for self and others.

What happened years ago comes to mind. I had a long daily commute from Chembur to workplace in Seepz. At one point in Ghatkopar, our vehicle would tee off into the road through Asalpha. After plodding through heavy traffic for a few kilometers unsuspectingly, we would find the road blocked – merrily dug up by the authorities or some utility company.  What else but to trace back to the point and take a long detour losing precious time in the busy morning hours. Why couldn’t they tell us about it in time? A communication problem amenable to some simple solution with electronics. Of course, in absence of anything else, a placard with an announcement would have served the purpose.

The arrival of and the revolution brought in by pagers and later mobile devices elsewhere in the world failed miserably to ignite any kind of similar innovation in this land.

This is not limited only to the field of communication. Consider this simple but dire need: Until recently we did not have a reliable and inexpensive way of timely switching on and off of pumps drawing water from the municipal mains to storage tanks atop apartments. The guy on duty would turn on the pump, go goofing about and return ‘aaraamse’ from his chai and gossip and switch it off but not before the floors and adjacent parts of the road had been washed clean by the overflowing water. Even today in times when water is scarce, installing these devices are not mandated by corporations to plug wastage!! A small opportunity to create a market place for electronics and its supply chain missed 😦

Areas like entertainment electronics, avionics, computers…are ‘to dhoor ki bhat’.

With a huge population, increased urbanization, improved standard of living and the burgeoning need for a range of services, possibilities of tapping into electronics are mind-boggling.

But we won’t – it’ll all come from China or Taiwan while our youth bitch and moan, blame the government for the ills or in some parts of the country turn into professional protesters available to politicians for hire! Or, turn into programmers!

To heck with sensors, devices, prime-movers, iot…as long as we have those dumb guys in China churning them out…

Is it because tinkering with things is essentially not part of our dna? We make poor engineers with hardware? Of course we always made pots and beads, as archaeological digs reveal. No questions.

So much for leadership in education, enterprise and nation building:-(

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PS: Have no idea how ISRO and a few organizations in defense and private sectors pull along amidst such a dismal ecosystem. Just as it’s a wonder how those magnificent temple edifices in the south and elsewhere were constructed – did China supply them too? Kidding 🙂

This time I’m not kidding. At the risk of appearing quixotic, may I suggest for every software professional of ours US employs directly or indirectly, we employ/import a technician, engineer or an entrepreneur from that country to the extent BOP allows. This will give us a kick-start in real engineering capabilities with hardware and establishing a nourishing ecosystem we are unable to set up on our own.

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They all have small feet!

How else could they get into other people’s shoes 🙂

In his article ‘Empathy Is The Key To Innovation’ Baruch Sachs assertively identifies a key ingredient for innovation:

“…Every great innovation has come from a place of empathy. This makes great sense because innovation is so often borne out of someone’s frustration with the current way or state of things. For example, Steve Jobs was frustrated that he could not carry his library of music around in his pocket. He thought others might share his frustration. His answer? The iPod.

Ride-sharing services were borne out of people’s frustration with the overall taxi experience. All of the innovations that Uber, Lyft, and others have created through their technology and services have come from a place of empathy. These are just two examples showing how empathy has driven tremendous innovations that have shaped the lives of millions of people…”

And yet “… Empathy is the single most-overlooked ingredient of innovation. This is a huge problem because empathy is a critical ingredient of ensuring successful innovation…”

Design thinking and other methodologies by themselves will not take the org far in innovation in absence of empathy.

So you know now who is the most likely to drive innovation in your org.

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Image from cio.com

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Like the doctor here.

When outside, I keep my eyes peeled looking for people doing things differently.

Apologies for the quality of the pics – this is as best as I could manage.

We all have heard of the anecdote how a consultant solved the problem of office goers waiting restlessly in the morning hours before a busy bank of lifts in a high-rise building. He got mirrors fixed outside the doors in the lobby and presto! The irritation abated. People liked to look at themselves in those mirrors while killing time.

Likewise:

The map you see here is pasted on full-height glass panels in the office of a Architects/Consultants firm. With employees of this firm more likely to be out in the field for good part of the day, it would not be uncommon for visitors having to wait out in their office.  And while waiting, the map segments on the panels, large unlike a mobile screen, clear and easy on the eyes, are actually interesting to look at and visually explore and discover even for the blase, making the wait a little more bearable.

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A few days ago, returned to Mumbai. As the Indigo aircraft came to a halt at the gate for passengers to get off, an announcement was made requesting the deplaning passengers to pull down the window-shades before they leave  and open the air-vents overhead to full blast.

Very thoughtful of them to keep the aircraft insides as comfortable as possible and ready for the incoming passengers.

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Source: Image from livemint.com

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Vide விஷ்வாமித்திரர்

Drawing water using manual pumps (If the clip doesn’t show, go here):

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He was an efficient heads-down, nose-to-the-wheel, eyes-on-the-ball manager of the operations, executing projects on time, using resources optimally…a relentless pusher.

But then he just did not have it in him to inspire his people to perform beyond the expected, pursue worthwhile challenges….Saw the projects as something to be completed and move on. What excitement, eh?

Quite convinced about the soundness of his views and approach.

Some of the best guys were ground down to mediocrity under his heavily task oriented leadership – they were hardly aware of what was happening.

Such managers are found in plenty especially in software industry. More so at senior levels.

Instead of dismissing them managers as misfit – their task orientation is abs necessary in projects – it may be a better approach to address the paradox by strengthening the structure with additional resources to inject excitement, innovation and challenge into projects. Resulting conflicts if any are not unmanageable if the manager gets the perspective right.  

A question may arise: are we unnecessarily and unfairly complicating the poor manager’s life with unreasonable expectations on excitement, innovation and challenge?

These are no longer nice-to-have’s. They serve multiple purposes of a) delivering enhanced value to the customer, b) keeping the professionals engaged and absorbed – does enormous good for employee motivation and retention and c) building expertise, reusable production and marketing assets…

In fact every project is a great opportunity for the org to profit by the above.

You still think it’s a choice?

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Leaving aside the party politics for the moment, it’s still an amazing case of innovative problem solving and communication the corporate’s would do well to look at its merit.

ToiletThis is election time in India with parties engaged in a fierce fight over voters’ mind-share.

The above is a message in this tussle coming from Prime-Minister Modi’s party BJP.

On the left is a panel depicting the state-of-affairs under the rule of the Congress Party that held sway for most years since independence, dominated by the Nehru family. It shows a man relieving himself publicly under a sign-board admonishing Don’t commit nuisance here‘. On the right is a panel intended to show the transformation achieved over last 55 months of BJP’s  rule. Here the sign points the offender-to-be to Use the toilet 50 feet away from the spot!

The difference in the approaches of problem-solving and its communication is so stark and brilliant!

Of course, it’s another matter to independently check on what the ground reality is.. Though the official claim is: 1.31 crores of public facilities were constructed in the state of Tamil Nadu during those 55 months of their rule under the Swatch Bharat campaign.

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And it’s unbelievably cheap too while yielding immense safety benefits!

From an article (and clips) here by Christoph Roser, brought up by Gopalakrishna Sunderrajan:

Look at this short clip (49 secs):

What is the train driver pointing at and what is he saying?

The technique of ‘Point and Call‘ is practiced by the Japanese railway companies from around 1900, and it is now widespread throughout Japan. And to a little extent, however not with the same rigor, outside of railways too.

With Japanese railroads, anything that has to be looked at is usually confirmed using point and call. First and foremost, this is for observing railroad signals that indicate whether the train is allowed to proceed, whether there are speed restrictions, or whether the train needs to stop. For example, when a speed limit starts in 500 meters, the train driver points at the sign and says, “Limit 75 Distance 500.

The technique is also used to verify the timetable. At every stop, the driver points to the corresponding line in the timetable to verify the target arrival and departure times. For example, when leaving the station, the driver points at the timetable and says, “Three o’ clock 12 minutes 15 seconds depart Shibuya station.

While the train stops, the speed is verified by pointing at the speedometer. Platform attendants and conductors also point along the platform to check if the train is clear, often also pointing at additional surveillance monitors for this purpose. For example, the conductor points at the doors after closing and states, “Good Closure,” then points at the monitors and states, “Good monitors for departure.

Pointing and Calling combines looking at something, pointing at it, calling out the observation, and listening to your own voice, giving co-action and co-reaction among the operator’s brain, eyes, hands, mouth, and ears. Not only looking but also pointing and sometimes stating the observation avoids sloppiness and helps keep focus and attention. For simple tasks (and most of these tasks are reasonably simple), this technique reduces errors by almost 85%. Some companies use only pointing, or only calling, but the technique is most effective when combined.

Here’s another clip on the subject (3.55 mins):

The article appeared in the beginning of 2014. Surprisingly for some reason this easy-to-implement innovative practice does not seem to have caught on yet outside of Japan.

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We all know about one of the most-talked-about routes to take to innovation: ‘value disruption’.

For example:

1 Who Killed The Business

(from Who Killed The Business?)

But “it’s not always an easy situation to deal with, simply because it often creates discomfort and pain.  This usually results in a sense of uncertainty and instability, which we, as people, are neurologically wired to react to and move away from.”

Janet Sernack puts her finger on two important attributes that enhances the ability to disruptingly innovate. While the basic idea may not be new, its articulation certainly is, giving us a handle for building these up – some food for performance coaches’ thoughts and action:

It’s all about ‘gumption and grit.

Gumption is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “the ability to decide what is the best thing to do in a particular situation, and to do it with energy and determination.”  

 And grit in the context of behavior is defined as “firmness of character; indomitable spirit” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, adapted (by Angela Duckworth, in her TED talk) to include “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” 

 Sernack explains:

This requires people to let go of being “nice” worrying about being politically correct, to develop innovation and collaboration, by being intentionally and safely contrary, provocative and disruptive involving:

  • Gumption; deeply cleansing people’s minds, to let go of old fixed, conventional and avoidance mindsets, risk adversity, fear of failure, complacency and other normal & habitual resistance factors to change they might have, without making them “wrong.”
  • Grit; passionately persevering being contrary, provocative and safely disruptive to achieve innovation goals and outcomes.

necessary to survive, achieve and thrive in VUCA times (situations or environments that engender high levels of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity).

She goes on to combine these two into a single skill-set ‘being provocatively competent’ and identifies its key characteristics in her post here.

 

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