Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Myths and Mechanics of Innovation

To add some depth to the superficial nonsense that is reported about the aspiration of the Malaysian government to transform the hapless Malaysian economy by emphasising innovation, I wish to direct anyone who has any interest in the matter to patiently read the views given by Larry Keeley, an innovation strategist, in an interview with David Nagel here.

By the way, the Journal from which the interview is sourced is an excellent read. It's tagline, Transforming education through technology should give us an idea about its aspirations.

13 comments:

walla said...

Thanks for the heads-up on Keeley's ideas on innovating education.

In reality, education has become too commercialized and politicized. There are targets to achieve and limited resources to achieve them. Classrooms are packed so that resources have to be optimally shared; trainers are weak so that mind-shaping is poor; policy-makers are political so that directions will remain ambivalent.

Without real will from the top, it's pretty hard to take the bull by the horns and do what needs to be done. Except by individual efforts from parents to find the most relevant global channels on their own for their children, human capital in this country will remain all about quantity without quality.

Quality in human capital is probably the most critical factor for national development. The smarter and more sensible people are, the less likely they will spew nonsense or create social trouble because their pragmatism will be more holistic, generic, universal and progressive.

This cultural aspect can shape a more innovative society which will be freed from energy-sapping dogmatism and parochialism which hamstrings the demolition of unnecessary assumptions that lock minds from seeing things differently which is one of many keys to innovation.

Having said that, one should also not think that innovation relates only to products. It can relate to intangibles like business models, branding processes, and, certainly, services.

Take a local example. We go to a restaurant and we are only given a menu to select. This limits the options which sets limits on what we can enjoy. What if the business model is changed? I hear there's one japanese-cuisine restaurant in town where you can tell the chef what you want to eat and how you think it should be cooked. The chef will then innovate to create and rustle up your own unique dish that's not in any menu. The paradigm shift (cough) is from fixed menu to unlimited experience. The restaurant has become not a place to get food but to get experience for both the customer and the chef.

The coffee boutiques are another example. You get over-qualified highly-trained people to make hyper-priced double-strength coffee for you to enjoy in a cozy and wifi-ed ambience that is strategically accessible location-wise designed to trigger the impulse to curl up in a soft chair with a nice book on a rainy day. If not book, de minimis' incurably addictive blog will also do. Coffee drinking is thus innovated into a lifestyle.

.....

walla said...

At an industrial level, it is instructive to ponder what had happened in Asia.

Take the electronics industry. In Phase I (early '60s to mid '70s), companies such as Samsung, Hyundai, LG and Tatung just assembled simple standard goods as subcontractors for the MNCs which supplied the designs and standards. In Phase II (mid '70s to mid '90s), such local firms scaled up by innovating the production process and developing their quality improvement skills. In Phase III (mid '90s onwards), they developed inhouse R&Ds, built up their own design capabilities, and created their own brands and distribution network while catching up with the MNCs in specific poducts such as DRAMs and cell phones.

The lesson learned is it takes a long time to ramp up internal capabilities across an entire industry, although individual firms may write their own development in nonphasal modes, such as happened with the japanese SMEs in their Ota district in the '60s, where they not only had to face harsh negligence by government policies which had favored larger corporations but also loss of their IP to other companies in their own country which had led to risky financial positions only saved by networking with other players in order to continue their production so as to earn enough to continue their business, which for all the adversity has since earned global recognition.

It remains to note that the phasal approach to industrial-scale innovation leads to incremental and not radical innovation and that could be due to the difficulties faced by many Asian technology firms, for example, in three general areas - basic research, software development, and capital goods usage.

....

and since i am about to keel over again reading what i have just written, let me leave you with the following gibblygooks again for your kind but respectively intense perusals:

http://is.gd/9WU7N
http://is.gd/9WTPE
http://is.gd/9WTU2
http://is.gd/9WTZB
http://is.gd/9WU33
http://is.gd/9WUbP
http://is.gd/9WUeY
http://is.gd/9WUhT
http://is.gd/9WUmt
http://is.gd/9WUpE
http://is.gd/9WUu2
http://is.gd/9WUyE

As you will note, my selection includes some with nice colour pictures. That must be because i am still stuck at the crayon stage.

Hope all this doesn't bring any bouts of a flu..

http://is.gd/9WLbH

Lastly, one suspects the antidote for overly long-winded blog commentators is to have a faster-moving social life.

Any innovative ideas on this, anyone?

walla said...

(zzzzz)....Waking up from falling asleep reading my own post, i stumbled on the following:

"The ‘a-ha’ moment innovators-to-be hear about is rarely the discovery of a new metric, or a new business model, or a new way of presenting or collecting data.

It’s the realization that a problem can be solved, and solved in a new way. These answers often come by doing and experiencing, being out in the field, and there are almost always stories behind why the person was there, sometimes how they got there, and what they suddenly saw which gave them their big idea."

That seems to be one of the underlying principles behind the innovation system of one automotive giant whose 10 practices for mastering innovation are:

1. Let learning lead – Learning and innovation go hand-in-hand, but learning comes first;

2. Learn to see – Elegant solutions often come from customers, which means understanding the customer’s world;

3. Design for today – Focus on clear and present needs, or great ideas will remain just that — just ideas;

4. Think in pictures – Make intentions visual;

5. Capture the intangible – The most compelling solutions are often perceptual and emotional;

6. Leverage the limits – Resource constraints can spur ingenuity;

7. Master the tension – Breakthrough thinking demands breaking through obvious, easy solutions;

8. Run the numbers – Temper instinct with insight, focus on facts, and do the math;

9. Make kaizen mandatory – Pursuing perfection requires great discipline; create a standard, follow it, and find a better way;

10. Keep it lean – Get to the heart of elegance through simplicity.

Unfortunately, right now that giant needs an eleventh practice whose dictum could be "11. what can go wrong, will."

While still at it, the above points seem to be a distillation of another study on innovation which breaks the matter into four components:

innovativeness, or the degree of 'newness' of a product from the perspective of the market as its ultimate arbiter;

distance to core business, or the measure of how close or distant the new product (service) is to/from the core business which is thus the perspective from the firm;

drivers of innovation, or the driving forces behind a firm's innovations; such would include orientations to markets and technology as well as competitive responses; and,

innovation field orientation, or the decision by the firm on which innovation activities to focus in predefined fields in order to close its growth gaps.

donplaypuks® said...

Bro walla

I wish I had the time to read all the articles you refer to. I read some and feel overwhelmed.

Are/were you a Uni prof or corporate advisor?

What worries me is that Najib's NEM is predicated on "needs." As we all know a very large country which went by the credo "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" collapsed after 70 years of rabid socialism/communism/marxism.


dpp
We are all of 1 race, the Human Race

donplaypuks® said...

That is, needs have no limits for humans, and cannot form the core of a sustainable economic policy.

That is quite different from establishing a base line of basic necessities in any civilization such as the right to food, water, clean air, decent housing, education, health, clothing, safety and inalenable human rights (on the last of which alone our Govt would have failed by a long way!!).

dpp
We are all of 1 race, the Human Race

walla said...

wonderful to read your response, bro donplaypuks.

nah, if i am not constantly mopping the floor and walking around the house from front to back and back to front, i'd just mooch and muck around in high quality blogs such as this, trying in my simple way to savor the insights and intelligence of others, which are aplenty, yours much included.

and on your last point, i will wait until the NEM is peeled out but it would be surprising if it doesn't turn out to be the same-old in new-clothes; hopefully it won't be just replacing P with M, for if it were that,they might as well go all the way back to NEA, or national economic alarm (;P).

do privilege me with what you like to read; i am always curious about others' intellectual repasts.

thanks for your comments and may be a'coming.

donplaypuks® said...

Walla

You should drop by my blog sometime at http://donplaypuks.blogspot and http://lunwt.blogspot.com to get an idea of what I read.

But for the best of satire and laughter, the best medicine, any of Ben Elton's novels - Gridlock, Past Mortem, Stark etc - is a hoot!

Please send me an email at za@donplaypuks.com and I'll keep you posted on BUM 2010 (Bloggers United M'sia) event being organized by cpiasia and assisted by Desi Chong of http://desiderata2000.blogspot.com/

I was in the committee last year when Rocky's Bru pulled off a great coup by getting Dr/M to attend.

You too de minimis!

dpp
We are all of 1 race, the Human race

flyer168 said...

Hi Deminimis, Walla & Donplaypuks,

This is a great topic & very refreshing to read all your new innovative "Revelations" - you have great minds guys & I respect your great thoughts.

There is far too much "Rhetorics" on both sides of the Political divide....but N.A.T.O!

The original 1957 Constitutional Wheel took years to define, Draft, gazette & was implemented from 1957 to 1969....when it was "Hijacked" by the Elite Ketuanan Racist Group...

In 2010, there is no point trying to save the Powers that be & UMNO/BN from its "Self-Inflicted, Self Destruct Autopilot Mode Path"...lest we get hurt.

There is NO Political WILL from PM & UMNO/BN Leaders to change/ shift that Racist NEP Paradigm...

If the Macro & Foundations are right...the Micro, etc will fall into place. Just like the "Kaisen" Model, etc.

We have to start taking the bull by the horns (the buck stops here with me!)& be Masters of our own Destiny NOW...cos both sides of the Political divide ain't gonna put bread on our table for today or tomorrow...

People's Parliament Haris Ibrahim & his "Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia" are doing their bit to provoke that small change with the "Citizen's Charer" drawn up & the citizen's voter's registration drive....they have achieved 2,000,000 so far. I am confident they will meet their aspirations & target.

We need to identify/suppport/ mobilise "Structured" groups of citizens from the Capitalist/Bankers, Intellectuals, Planners, Implementers, Motivators, Shapers, etc.

Next we next need to identify the "Successful & Proven Do-able Models" & "Successful Self Achieved People with Credibility, Integrity & Honour" as Role models to emulate from, then we need to gather our group of like minds to brainstorm, practice, innovate & be that "Change Group".

That is how the father of Rotary "Paul Harris" (A Chicago based Lawyer - L.L.B. from the University of Iowa and received an honorary L.L.D. from the University of Vermont.) started out in 1905 with his 3 friends of like minds...

Paul Harris worked as a newspaper reporter, a business teacher, stock company actor, cowboy, and traveled extensively in the U.S.A. and Europe selling marble and granite.

In 1896, he went to Chicago to practice law. One evening Paul visited the suburban home of a professional friend. After dinner, as they strolled through the neighborhood, Paul's friend introduced him to various tradesmen in their stores. It was here Paul conceived the idea of a club that could recapture some of the friendly spirit among businessmen in small communities.

On 23 February 1905, Paul Harris formed the first club with three other businessmen: Silvester Schiele, a coal merchant; Gustavus Loehr, a mining engineer; and Hiram Shorey, a merchant tailor. Paul Harris named the new club "Rotary" because members met in rotation at their various places of business. Club membership grew rapidly.

Soon Paul became convinced that the Rotary club could be developed into an important service movement and strove to extend Rotary to other cities.....

Paul was also prominent in other civic and professional work. He served as the first chairman of the board of the national Easter Seal Society of Crippled Children and Adults in the U.S.A. and of the International Society for Crippled Children.

He was a member of the board of managers of the Chicago Bar Association and its representative at the International Congress of Law at the Hague, and a committee member of the American Bar Association.

Contd Pt 2....

flyer168 said...

Hi Deminimis, Walla & Donplaypuks,

This is a great topic & very refreshing to read all your new innovative "Revelations" - you have great minds guys & I respect your great thoughts.

There is far too much "Rhetorics" on both sides of the Political divide.

The original 1957 Constitutional Wheel took years to define, Draft, gazette & implement from 1957 to 1969....when it was "Hijacked" by the Elite Ketuanan Group...

In 2010, there is no point trying to save UMNO/BN from its "Self-Inflicted Self Destruct Autopilot Mode Path"...lest we get hurt.

There is NO Political WILL from PM, UMNO/BN Leaders to change/ shift that NEP Paradigm...

If the Macro & Foundations are right...the Micro, etc will fall into place. Just like the "Kaisen" Model, etc.

We have to start taking the bull by the horns (the buck stops here with me!)& be Masters of our own Destiny NOW...cos both sides of the Political divide ain't gonna put bread on our table for today..

People's Parliament Haris Ibrahim & his "Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia" are doing their bit to provoke that small change with the "Citizen's Charer" drawn up & the citizen's voter's registration drive....they have achieved 2,000,000 so far. I am confident they will meet their aspirations & target.

We need to identify/mobilise "Structured" groups of citizens from the Capitalist/Bankers, Intellectuals, Planners, Implementers, Motivators, Shapers, etc.

Next we next need to identify the "Successful & Proven Do-able Models", "Successful Self Achieved People with Credibility, Integrity & Honour" as Role models to emulate from, then we need to gather our group of like minds to brainstorm, practice, innovate & be that "Change Group".

That is how the father of Rotary "Paul Harris" (A Chicago based Lawyer - L.L.B. from the University of Iowa and received an honorary L.L.D. from the University of Vermont.) started out in 1905 with his 3 friends of like minds...

Paul Harris worked as a newspaper reporter, a business teacher, stock company actor, cowboy, and traveled extensively in the U.S.A. and Europe selling marble and granite.

In 1896, he went to Chicago to practice law. One evening Paul visited the suburban home of a professional friend. After dinner, as they strolled through the neighborhood, Paul's friend introduced him to various tradesmen in their stores. It was here Paul conceived the idea of a club that could recapture some of the friendly spirit among businessmen in small communities.

On 23 February 1905, Paul Harris formed the first club with three other businessmen: Silvester Schiele, a coal merchant; Gustavus Loehr, a mining engineer; and Hiram Shorey, a merchant tailor. Paul Harris named the new club "Rotary" because members met in rotation at their various places of business. Club membership grew rapidly.

Soon Paul became convinced that the Rotary club could be developed into an important service movement and strove to extend Rotary to other cities.....

Paul was also prominent in other civic and professional work. He served as the first chairman of the board of the national Easter Seal Society of Crippled Children and Adults in the U.S.A. and of the International Society for Crippled Children.

He was a member of the board of managers of the Chicago Bar Association and its representative at the International Congress of Law at the Hague, and a committee member of the American Bar Association.

Contd Pt 2....

flyer168 said...

Pt 2...

Paul Harris received the Silver Buffalo Award from the Boy Scouts of America for distinguished service to youth, and was decorated by the governments of Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France and Peru....

Btw, I am a grandfather of 06 grandchildren, a professional for 45 years, still a "Rotarian" at heart & enjoying my "Malaysian Dream", which I had planned/ executed 20 years ago, thro Blood, Sweat & Tears...

Would be great if we can all meet at the Club to have a "Brainstorm" session...

What say you Deminimis?

- Abraham Lincoln's Wise Words....

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital.

Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed.

Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.

- Henry Ford's Wise Words....

Coming together is a Beginning,
Keeping together is Progress,
Working together is Success.

Well, let us move on as Innovators & Movers then....

Just do it!

Cheers.

de minimis said...

bro flyer168

Good to hear from you.

mekyam said...

dear ct,

pls bin my last comment here as i accidently posted it in the wrong blog-entry. it was meant for an earlier one and i have pasted it there. bin this one too, of course.

thousand apologies for the incovenience!

semuanya OK kot said...

A simple uestion: what happened to the revolutionary biodegradable plastic invented by a Malaysian, announced about 6 months ago? Was his skin colur a problem?