Nov 26, 2010

XtremeDreamers: Bottom-Up Innovation Strategy

This blog is so close to my heart as this is the only post that am writing which is so relevant to the purpose of why this blog is created. As an ‘Xtreme Dreamer’ I tend to have this ‘’Innovations urge” and when my organization conducted a fabulous “Innovation Summit”, the volcano erupted. We are renewing our CMMI certification and L5 orgs should bring in process/business/technological innovations within their scope of market so as to be eligible for the renewal and this is why the org was on fire to do things differently. But as I always had this spark, which was turned into a huge firestorm, when everything around me had a tag that said “Innovations” in it, I intend to write this post. I know it'll be hard to gaze through the entire post but believe me the frustration has always had a witty end!

There was an interesting topic in my org’s community forum wherein the AVP has posted a thought about ‘Bottom Up’ Innovation strategy. The below crap of @#%$% followed is my reply to the thought process that was initiated.

I would like to throw some light on both “Top down” as well as “Bottom up” and the S curve that relates to three phases of an organization.

Whenever an organization enters into market it has got 3 phases in it growth:
  • Formation
  • Growth
  • Renewal

During the formation phase we set strategies to grow wherein leaders bring in innovative plans to implement and we will have grand designs in place to reap success. Once the formula for success is known, we will be following the formula and continue to grow in all aspects till success becomes our habit. We will be in a routine using the formula and we will constrain ourselves into a box which we feel is safe. Thus we sustain doing repeated things and then we soon hit downfall as the market we face is a rapid changing one and doing the same thing is never enough for our customers where in it comes to a ‘reinvent or die’ situation. This is where we enter into the phase of renewal where in we change ourselves being back in phase 1 revisiting all our strategies and start to grow again.

In a “Top Down” approach, the contribution in all 3 phases as listed above will only be from the top/senior level managers who decide and people under them act. People in an organization will always need 4 vital things as they grow along – Direction, Coaching, Support and Delegation. “Top Down” approach is a management driven solution, which is so apt for people in organizations who need direction/coaching.

“Bottom up” innovation is the most matured level of strategy as this can only be applied when the people being demise of it should be so mature and ready enough to adopt and apply ideas thereby evolve to bring in growth to the organization that grows them. In this approach as all mentioned, we need to get ideas from the root and start nurturing the dream in the DNA of our associates – I totally agree. But are we matured enough to nurture dreams? The answer never depends on the ‘Associate Innovation Index’ rather the associates’ attitude towards these contributions. To frame a good “Bottom up” innovation strategy, I have came up with 3 vitamins that we need and as one of our associates mentioned in the debate during Innovation strategy meet – “We need Vitamins! Not Pain Killers!”

VITAMIN “A” doption: Adopting technologies and adopting already available tools was the main point that was stressed on ‘Managing Innovations’. We must start using all available resources before we invent. We should adopt existing ideas and consider them before making our own ideas into picture. The culture of inheriting what we have, should spread and then people should think on what we need. Somebody in this post mentioned of developing an effective forum like “FB” and am sorry to ask this – What more you require from this c2mash UI? Start exploring and you’ll find what you need before you start reinventing the wheel.

VITAMIN “C” ommunications: Effective/Improved communications makes the exploration lot easier. Communication models can be closely coupled or as loose as units confined to them. The idea is to effectively communicate within the group. Throw out problems to a larger audience instead of trying to solve it in your desktop. Share it with your unit or across the floor and soon you will hear solutions even WebBot would’ve never thought of.

VITAMIN “D” riving Passion: Every leader has a problem of motivating the members within, make them matured enough to think in a different way, come out with breakthrough ideas and invent something new. To all leaders who think “Oh Yeah! You hit the bull’s eye. This is where I stuck up” – the problem is not the team anymore it could be you. Every leader is the motivating factor of the team and every member will join you if you still have the verge of ideating, improvising and innovating. Leaders should start ideating and put it across, creating boundaries for them to think. Let us make the team to think inside the box first and make them eventually to think outside. This creates passion within the team and soon you’ll find the team buzzing all you with their innovative ideas. Rewards and recognition plays a vital role in this. Hear every idea; never leave any even though it sounds absurd. Recognize the best and reward them periodically which would create the “Wah” factor and this would help to sustain the momentum within.

Relating this with the ‘S’ curve as I discussed earlier, in bottom up approach there will be a group of bottom up innovators doing an excellent job in phase 1 (Formation) and the rate at which the organization enters into phase 2 (Growth) will be phenomenal. But remember what happens when we are reaching phase 3 (Renewal) – everything around just looks great! The sales figure would be high, org will be rapidly growing and its success stories all over. Then there’s a downfall that await us and if we don’t readopt ourselves then no wonder an iceberg could do a shipwreck! This is where “Top Down” helps. The top-level management should drive from front, closely followed by the army of innovating leaders, which would help us grow without hitting the roof, rather I would say grow beyond the roof. Thus a right mixture of both the approaches would constitute in our case.

Please refer: to know more on bottom up approach and “S” curve. My thoughts were projected clearly agreeing to the author of the post mentioned.

After a post that is this big which am definitely sure none of them could go through and me still anticipating getting comments on my thought, I hereby post this to a larger audience so that "pirkaala sandhadhiyinar idha padichu pathu therinjikatume!” :D

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  1. "none of them could go through" will never become true as long as I am here!
    I could see a lot of analysis and this is really very useful (I smell that you are targetting someone around your work!)

  2. Classifications of Vitamins is really interesting and apt. Totally agree Sir! A C and D are essential!

  3. Appraisal :) U hit em in the right spot... none of em outside the ark believers ;)