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HindustanTimes Sun,24 Aug 2014

Review: 8 Steps to Innovation, Going from Jugaad to Excellence

Sunil Malhotra  New Delhi, November 14, 2013
First Published: 11:34 IST(14/11/2013) | Last Updated: 11:50 IST(18/11/2013)

8 Steps to Innovation: Going from Jugaad to Excellence
Vinay Dabholkar & Rishikesha T. Krishnan

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I have a confession to make. The cover led me to believe that this was another one of those innovation cookbooks by two opportunistic wannabe Jugaad aficionados (I still have a huge problem with the cover design in that it is trying hard to impress while succeeding to do just the opposite). The first chapter could only reinforce my belief that here was another version of the many ‘product improvement through R&D is innovation’ treatises that are strewn about ever since innovation became a fashion label. Am I glad that I persisted, if only to collect enough ammunition to tear it to shreds. Surprise, surprise! The book is not only an easy read but is a good resource for organizations that want to understand how to carry out innovation.

The authors give out two clear messages
1. That everybody can innovate
2. Innovation success is less about isolated creative sparks than a concerted approach both to motivate the elephant (incentive) and direct the driver (clarity).

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They address the oft heard refrain of ‘Can Innovation be taught?’ with a balanced and realistic “there are certain things which are really hard to teach: to be empathetic, how to develop insights or how to develop passion or even an itch for solving a particular problem. However, there are many areas where more awareness and techniques [can] help develop skills.” And when they say the book is about making innovation more systematic and predictable, they walk their talk.

The book is replete with examples, some relevant to the context of innovation, others simply anecdotes of triggers for improvement. I wish the authors had taken it upon themselves to go the extra distance of pointing out the ‘innovation aspect’ in each example – the finishing isn’t there, so although each story makes sense on its own, the thread connecting it to innovation is missing in many cases. Simply improving something or solving a problem isn’t necessarily innovation; that’s stretching it to the classic trap of taking anything you like and giving it an innovative (pun intended) twist. The key takeaways at the end of each chapter are really all you need. And that’s a nice thoughtful touch.

It isn’t clear, however, who the book is intended for. That the authors are highly experienced in their own fields is amply evident. I’m wondering if this is a handbook for innovation managers, CxOs, or individual innovators. I can hear the authors say all of the above, but that’s too broad for comfort or value. One critical thing that Vinay and Rishikesha successfully do is bring down the language of innovation several levels, making it widely accessible.

Sunil Malhotra is the founder and CEO of Ideafarms, a technology consulting company with focus on innovation. He blogs on innovation at sunilmalhotra.wordpress.com


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