Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ISPIM - Innovation Symposium

OK. I've finally managed to resurface into Blogosphere. Do you see me now? I've not been hiding but I've been running hither and thither. Whoever said "You can run but you cannot hide" had a brilliant brain. (Give me a teeny weeny opportunity to make an out of the context statement and be sure I'll grab it with both my hands! ;-])

Righto! I am sure you're waiting for the real story now. I was off to torture people at the Innovation Symposium conducted by ISPIM in collaboration with the Singapore Management University. I presented an idea that has been brewing in my mind for more than a year now. The idea revolves around establishing random connections between the employees of an organization to promote innovation. At a minimum level, I believe the implementation of the idea is likely to usher in a sense of belonging in the employee and help her understand how the organization works...by understanding the various parts of the organization and then connecting the dots to make out what the big picture looks like. When I conceived the idea, I was hardly familiar with Twitter. In retrospect, I believe that this idea will find a new form if implemented on a tool like Twitter.

While at the symposium, I came across three key ideas that I found to be fascinating!

- Phantom Innovation - It was a study by two people from Sweden on inventions that solved a problem/challenge not originally meant to be solved by that particular invention. In other words, innovations that found accidental use in other unrelated areas. Not surprisingly, this paper won an award.
- Bionics - This one isn't really new. Product development inspired by nature! The imitation/emulation of nature's ideas. A car that looks like a Box Fish, a structure that resembles a spider's web and so forth. I have been fascinated by Biomimicry ever since I first read about it a few years back. In fact, I've been looking to buy the book by Janine Benyus but it doesn't seem to be available anywhere in Bangalore! :-(
- Blue Ocean Strategy - I got to go through a workshop that provided us with practical tools to enable people to use the concepts of Blue Ocean Strategy for innovation.

And then there were other familiar and yet exciting tidbits like studies to establish a link between KM and Innovation. I was thrilled to find that a lot of Innovation professionals were gravitating towards studies on collaboration and collective thinking. There was, as expected, a lot of talk about communities and wikis in the context of innovation.

One another interesting aspect of the conference was a very large representation from the Nordic countries like Finland, Spain, Netherlands, Austria...the countries that stand tall in the worldwide Innovation Index! Overall, it was the first ever time I got to see such a diverse set of Europeans all in one place!

Also, even though I tried very hard not to go on adding to my collection of unread books, I simply couldn't control the urge to pick up a book during the trip - Uncommon Wisdom by Fritjof Capra. Eager to read it. Will probably replace another book in my "Next 3 books to read" list.

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