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A Conversation with the Innovator in YOU

Many of us at times think Innovation is beyond us. We out-talk ourselves in pursuing a worthwhile innovation. Or we rationalize ourselves by comforting that we have an idea and that is sufficient to feel we have innovated. Let us talk to the Innovator in you and then you can touch base with the Innovator inside you - surprise yourself!  - Sudeendra Koushik & Pragya Dixit, Prasu

Sudeendra Koushik & Pragya Dixit, Prasu

'I have an idea' is perhaps the most often heard phrase about innovation. But the first and foremost point is that Idea is not Innovation. I know there are multiple definitions and may be you have your own too. Realizing this is the first step to be an Innovator. When we founded our start up Prasu, we made one thing clear that our research based model is about Innovator and not as much about the Process of Innovation. The difference is subtle but significant. We talk about the Painter and the inspiration and confidence of the painter. This makes a huge difference on the outcome of Innovation. As an Innovator I often feel there is too much talent wasted due to ignorance. If something is not achieved due to a lack of ability it can be understood. But if someone has an ability and unable to realize the same due to lack of some skills and knowledge which he or she could have that's a criminal waste. So lets talk to the Innovator in you.

Do you think you are an Innovator already?  Well  am not sure. 

Have you been in a situation where you were coming to your work place and the road was blocked? Yes, in fact several times. So Did you then return home ? Of course not. I found a way to get to work. 

OK, when you are with a group of friends and you want to do something together like going to a movie or go bowling, one or more of your group will disagree to join for various reasons. Do you leave them and go ahead with your plan? No, Well, we will try and persuade them to join us. How do you usually persuade them? We will tell them why they should join, the benefits of doing so and perhaps help them realize what they might not know and motivate them to join us.

How many times have you been in a discussion with a kid trying to influence them to do something you think is good for them? Several times. So do they easily see your point of view and follow your suggestions? Hardly :) and it makes me frustrated at times as I am unable to convince, though I know it is good for them.

Do you cook often? Yes many times. You would have a recipe and do you exactly do the same thing and end up with the same taste each and every time? Well, I would not be able to repeat the exact thing every time but more or less the same thing every time but slightly different.

So I would say from the above discussions that you are already being Innovator in your daily life. You are finding new ways to solve problems, arrive at new things,  and also try to understand what benefits people. Using these you find reasons to convince people of your ideas, convincing people to follow your ideas or convince yourself and sell your ideas.

If you start believing this  we can go ahead and discuss what makes you an effective Innovator. Are you ready? Absolutely ready to go.

How do you want to start Innovating ? I have an idea and I develop that idea to make it more complete. And...Sorry to Interrupt but that is not the best way to start Innovating. Why do you say that, I don't get it. Please explain. Let me explain with an example. The way you explained is like saying I have an idea to extinguish fire say a fire extinguisher and I am looking for fire, to use my idea, to use my Innovation. In this way, you end up trying to convince the need for  extinguisher and its benefits when there is no fire.

 So are you saying it is a bad idea to Innovate a fire extinguisher? I don't get it. No that's not what we are saying.  We say first find out the presence of fire, and then propose an Innovation, which could be your fire extinguisher. In other words first find out the problem first. Only when the problem is clear please Innovate to solve that problem. OK let me get this clear. You are saying we find a problem before we Innovate? Yes absolutely. 

But then there are so many problems. Which one to pursue? Very good question. Not all problems are worth solving. When you select a  problem you need to ensure it is a valuable problem. Please explain the difference between what is a valuable problem as compared to a problem. A valuable problem is a problem backed up by data to validate that this is problem is faced by many people. 

Why is this so important to qualify a problem as a valuable problem? Good to see we are on track :) If the problem is a valuable problem then it is faced by a significant number of people. When the solution is found for such a valuable problem, then commercially positioning and selling of that innovation becomes a lot easier and has more potential to succeed. OK I get it ...I think, so let me check. First I have to list a set of problems. And then I qualify each of them to identify which of them is a Valuable problem. A valuable problem is one which is experienced by or affecting a larger population. Once that is done I can set about generating my ideas for Innovating a solution for this Valuable problem. Right ? Absolutely right. And can you tell me why this is a better approach than starting from 'I have an idea' approach ? Yes. In this approach I know that there is a requirement for an Innovative solution while in the latter approach we may not have that need for an Innovation. This often decides between success and failure of an Innovation.

Do you think you are an Innovator now? Well am pretty sure  now. But I still have more questions. Like...well so many questions in fact...for example how to spot opportunities to Innovate, and ...

Congratulations and that's great to hear. There is more to discuss, I agree. I assure you we will do it later as am going in search of opportunities now :)



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