Raj's Lab

Strategy and Entrepreneurship


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Interesting Links This Week: 18-Aug-2013

With social media becoming widely believed to be the resource constrained marketers tool to fight larger competitors617px--_Flower_19_- – will niche networks help? While on one hand the number of followers on twitter or fans of facebook is a measure of your popularity, do they turn into revenue? Will niche networks with lesser but focused participation solve this challenging correlation? Here are some thoughts. Link: http://bit.ly/114aAYf 

Samsung recently enhanced its efforts under the banner of “Open Innovation” by launching an accelerator in the Silicon Valley! Why would Samsung want to do this, especially at a time when its innovation programs are doing well. They want to utilize the startup ecosystem to strengthen their feeder for innovations related to software. This can then be funneled into all their products. Sounds like corporate are exploring the use of entrepreneurial talent in a variety of ways. I am sure this is just another step in that direction. We are sure there is more to see than this. Here is one interesting article on it: http://onforb.es/1btcUMN

Life Sciences is an emerging domain. But the entrepreneurs starting up are mostly scientists and technically oriented minds. So many find it difficult to take off and become commercially viable. Here are some tips from people who crossed the chasm. Link: http://bit.ly/1ag4Xw6


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Interesting Links This Week: 04-Aug-2013

My top links for this week:

Have you ever wondered how to use social media tools intelligently? Especially if you are an author, are you using theMacro_Flower_2 social media tools to find new readers and engage existing reader? If you are not or  if you are finding the going tough, here are some thoughts that could help. Link: http://bit.ly/14AT36U

Google SVP Jonathan Rosenberg is one of the important people who practice innovation in the world. How does he ensure his team remains open to ideas and be consistently successful at innovation? Here at a talk given to his alma mater he opens up on what makes innovation a success at Google and how we can take a few lessons to achieve success in innovation ourselves. Link: http://bit.ly/18Doenj

Career advice is always helpful! But when you look at some of the ideas presented here, it looks more like advice to plan life to be lived well and fully. Check it out and take whatever portions you liked. Link: http://bit.ly/14aXxUj


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Interesting Links This Week: 23-June-2013

Links that made it to my list this week:Roasted_coffee_beans

Getting internships can be one hell of a job in itself, especially if it is in a company like Google. Now you have a movie that explores what it would be like! With 40000 people applying to get into the 1500 intern positions – its a competitive exam in itself. Here are some thoughts why it makes sense to try. For entrepreneurs some ideas on how to attract and utilize top quality talent during internship. Link: http://www.fastcocreate.com/1683136/how-to-actually-land-an-internship-at-google-and-turn-it-into-a-job

Negotiation is always a tough skill to pick. This is truly a differentiating skill when it comes to the tough competitive environment in which we are attempting to thrive today. A surprising revelation on the subject from the maverick Steve Jobs. This is a subject you learn by observing and apprenticing under someone. Here are some tips. Link: http://www.inc.com/erik-sherman/5-negotiation-tips-from-steve-jobs.html?cid=em01020week23a&nav=su

I always take the example of retailing coffee to explain value proposition and perception in the mind of the consumers. Nowhere else in my opinion can you see transformation of trade so strikingly.  This article on how Starbucks approaches innovation crept into this list for this and many other reasons (which you may also discover!) http://www.fastcompany.com/3009040/risky-innovation-will-starbuckss-leap-of-faith-pay-off


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Telegram Service – End of the dot dash fullstop era!

July 15th 2013, brings to an end the telegram services in India. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of young people, GenY, GenZ telegram--621x414don’t even know what telegram means. And why would they? When communications industry has seen the fastest rate of change in the last two decades.

The telegram service was probably the fastest way to send information across the country  at one point in time. The standard response to the postman coming over with a telegram was one of dread and fear. As almost always telegram would bring the news of loss or sickness of someone in the family. This is the first memory for many of us. Then comes the pink sheet of hastily made up short forms of words!

In today’s fast world much of these seem arcane. But  there is no doubt that it reduced the time taken to convey important and urgent messages over long distances – and for many it was the only available option, as close as two decades ago. While the current generation will remember the existence of such a service, to many youngsters even the thought that this was an essential service can be surprising and shocking. Just as twenty years from now people wouldn’t believe we actually used floppy disk to transfer data.

Some thoughts that came to me as I mulled over this:

  1. Old always has to give way to the new
  2. Anything that is born must die
  3. Even for paradigm shifts in innovation to happen there has to be some incremental innovation
  4. Was Telegram the twitter of the non-internet era?

The lifespan of services and products is fast reducing. Which like all other things is both good and bad. Every single person has a lesson to learn from this. More so my dear entrepreneurial friends.  

Learning to innovate is important and learning to let go to innovate further is even more important. The closure of the telegram service reinforces this message while serving as a reminder that there are some basic laws of the universe that always work on every single thing!

 


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Books and Me: The Little Black Book Of Innovation

Book Title:  The Little Black Book Of Innovation1422171728

Author: Scott D. Anthony

Innovation is a buzzword today. The term jugaad being associated with it has only catalyzed its usage in our geography. Almost anything that is slightly different is categorized under this subject. Innovation is also touted to be the game changing tool for emerging enterprises. While there are hundreds of books on innovation, the little black book of innovation is more like an introductory book for practitioners.  It brings  a good blend, of theoretical references and their practical adaptations. It demystifies numerous illusions that so many of us carry on the field with regards to the subject.  A very interesting chapter on the author’s selected ten innovation masters, also introduces the reader to more worlds and bodies of literature. While some aspects of the book tend to have American references, I believe it will not come in the way of grasping the essence of the book’s intention by a non-american reader.

The second part of the book contains a suggested 28 days innovation program. This four week program is structured around four broad groups or stages namely , discovering opportunities, blue printing ideas, assessing and testing ideas and moving forward.  The overall themes are then broken down into short day wise suggestions on behaviors and practices.  Each of those chapters contain interesting anecdotes, cases, how to tips, exercises and references for further reading.

The interesting trend that I am beginning to see in recent books including this, is the references to blogs and websites rather than papers and books. This in my opinion is bound to increase. There is also a list of interesting books put together by the author relating to the various topics discussed in the book.

Overall the book is an easy and interesting read.  It is written with practitioner in  mind and contains number of triggers which may make you put the book down and start doing something about innovation.  I am sure the author will be delighted if this happens!


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Interesting Links This Week: 05-May-2013

Links that caught my attention this week range from a scholarly paper to the on-ground challenges with regards to innovationnature

a)  A paper that attempts to explain wealth gaps between West and ‘the Rest’ . Why was ‘Rest’ of the world struggling to catch up on entrepreneurship in the 19th century while West was pushing its way to success? http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/7227.html?wknews=04102013

b) A very interesting write up on how art and science of delivery brought effectiveness not just to a company, not just to a community but to a country at large http://voices.mckinseyonsociety.com/the-origins-and-practice-of-delivery/

c) An article around the moderated panel discussion on Innovation at Wharton Economic Summit 2013 around definition of innovation, its relationship to entrepreneurship and what is required to nurture it http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=3242


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Interesting Links This Week: 21-Apr-2013

Interesting reads on innovation, Entrepreneurship and Strategy on this weeks favorite links: Bigsurflowers

a) How peripheral knowledge is aiding companies to exploit the power of innovation http://bit.ly/TYgA3N

b) How did John Mackey made it big with Whole Foods? Hear it from the man himself http://bit.ly/106OqzW

c) The fate of Apple is one that will continue to be predicted and debated. But I liked this article for it’s view on strategy in general  http://bit.ly/XHWqWd

 


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On Innovation: Is It Only For Apple and Google?

Steve Jobs and the like are exceptions! Let us respect them. But they alone are not enough. Apple and Steve Jobs alone cannot 800px-Schmetterling_1a_neuccthe run the world. We need people like them in every line. We need people like them at every scale.

While Apple and Google provide inspiration; there is a company through its sheer consistency in innovation has shown how small thoughts can go onto making a large company. This is 3M. When one studies 3M and history of its product, one can understand that they are not running behind a single path breaking innovative idea. They are coming up with products that solve simple need and most of it extending on an earlier idea.

This is a thought that is important for businesses of smaller scale. Innovation can be a game-changer at all scales and at all levels. Not necessarily only for multinational or products. Innovating one’s supply chain, innovating one’s processes, innovating one’s production floor layout,  innovation in services could cause a considerable shift in both productivity and profitability for a small and medium company. And the best part is the rate of jump that happens with a small twist to thinking is definitive in impact and significance!

So SME companies instead of relegating innovation as something that needs to be considered only when they become large, should swiftly and adeptly embrace it at every aspect of their operations and strategy. For only when they do this, can they even realize the dream of becoming large!


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On Innovation: Learning to Observe

One of the first things that successful innovators learn as a skill is ‘observation’. Learning to observe what? Problems, challengesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA, frustrations etc., that potential customers face on a daily basis. Learning to observe these opens up plethora of opportunities for innovations.

If we ask people what they want, they may never know. But if you engage with them in conversation about what bothers them or what is it that they want to achieve – it will open up unseen and undiscovered needs and wants.

All such opportunities are potential centres for ideation. When we ideate around opportunities we create solutions that are useful for the market. These innovations are potential business ideas. The entrepreneur’s search for an appropriate business model should happen after this. Else innovation could remain as mere fantasies and hopes.

We need more successful entrepreneurs. For this we need successful innovations. For this we need market centric solutions. For this we need to know what the market wants. For this we need to observe more.

So if you want to become more innovative..observe more!


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On Innovation: Creativity Requires Courage

Creativity is an important aspect of Innovation. Many of the scientific discoveries sit on a creative thought – A thought that Copernicus_-_Heliocentric_Solar_Systemstopped asking Why? And started asking why not? Right from moving from geo-centric to helio-centric planetary system, to structure of benzene, to buoyancy and scores of other life changing discoveries and invention, the question ‘Why Not’ has paved the way.

Courage to come up with ideas that seem outright crazy is but an essential aspect of creativity.

If people in the past had not made attempts to think of these out of the world ideas, we may not have seen many of the developments that we see today. We certainly may not remember too many of them, but their contributions remain fueling many of the modern day contraptions. These selfless people with open minds that had the capacity to dream big, are the ones who have led society forward. We need more of them. But the truth is all cannot be them. However we can all play a definitive part, in the collective journey of innovation.  Then the first step that we need to do is to stop asking ‘WHY’ when someone suggests a solution, and start saying ‘WHY NOT!’ Even this requires tremendous courage. Many a times even more than the ideaist! Do you have it?

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