On Innovation: What can make it Simple?

We were discussing a rather frustrating problem at office last week.  How much ever we tried we found ourselves at our wit’s end. The problem was not a business related one that we are used to. It was of an entirely differenThe_End_of_a_Journey_(505660567)t kind.

There was some recent celebration for which the team had used streamers  and fixed it with cellotape on the wall. After a week when they wanted to remove it, much to their dismay they found it left the otherwise spotlessly clean white wall spotted with hues of yellow, pink and orange in a most disorganized way. And it did not help that it was in the room that we would meet clients.   And on that day an hour from then was a scheduled meeting  with a prospective client. This was our first meeting too! Nothing from my side was able to placate my team on letting it go and get on with work.  Though they were preparing for the meeting, every now and then someone would walk into the room; stare at the wall and attempt doing something about it.

From water, nail polish remover, usage of manicured nails, applying cellotape to rip off the color, trying to write  over the spots with chalk – everything was tried.  And suddenly  a member of my team walked-in,  removed a large world map that was there on the opposite wall and fixed it on this wall. And smugly the map sat over the patches on the wall.  There was an audible gasp of relief. The first reaction from most of us were ‘ Why could you not think of something so simple earlier?’

In many cases quick thinking is equated to thinking faster and with increasing complexity on the issue at hand. More complex the thought process, more gratifying it seems to all involved!  However many times innovative solutions come up rather easily when we focus on the problem properly. The problem we were all trying to address was how to remove the stain – while the actual problem was how to make the wall look cleaner  in time for the meeting!  Once we changed the question – the answer that came to us was simple, straight and served the purpose.

We can argue endlessly on this being a quick fix and hence not correct.  While this and many other aspects can be true – the thought that I want to place in for consideration is when you are unable to solve a problem or come up with an innovative solution to a business challenge for sometime– Revisit your question. Maybe it is defined incorrectly.

As we did mention in our latest innovation report (http://bit.ly/14RsvlV ) –  aligning of the thought process by asking right questions and identifying the organizational issues that is to be solved is a needed anchor for innovation! Innovation reaps benefit of free thinking – but it requires direction!

Infact I had written about a similar dilemma one faces in consulting engagements, for YourStory http://yourstory.in/2011/08/the-complexity-of-simplicity/  You could find that of interest too!

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