Dr Uday Salunkhe, Group Director, Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research offered some priceless insights into the prevalent innovation scenario as he outlined the bottlenecks and the possible pathways into them. Here are few excerpts taken from his address at 3rd Global Innovation conference by AIMA at Taj Palace, 22-23 Nov, 2011 at Mumbai. Dr Salunkhe was chairing a session on ‘Pathways to Democratization of Innovation: Removing Barriers and Promoting Triggers to Innovation’ The other speakers on the dais were Mr Arvin Baalu, Director, Harman International India Pvt Ltd and Mr Raghu Gullapalli, Senior Consultant at Accenture Ltd.
Dr Salunkhe started with a brief outline of the Indian educational space. He said, that there is a need to infuse spirit of innovation and appetite for experimentation in our workforce along with some transformational changes in the set up. The emerging economy needs the educators, leaders and corporates to be more creative, farsighted and imaginative. There have been marked changes in the emerging economy which thrives on change, unpredictability, technological advance, innovation and design. Somewhere we have become anachronistic in our approach; what worked yesterday may fail to deliver today . We need to rethink what we are disseminating to our youngsters, will it help them sail through the dynamic (read volatile and chaotic )world they are going to live in.
Our management education calls for a liberal shot of creativity, entrepreneurial to analytical type of thought process. It calls for open source innovation as well as open source learning. We need to ingrain a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach in the DNA of our students.
Talking of the major barriers to innovation in Indian Context Dr Salunkhe talked of the fear of failure as most of us avoid the prospect of failure to such an extent that we at times forego attempts of success settling instead for a life of mediocrity. Great success builds up on the basic premise of great risk to which failure may be simply incidental, which can be further parlayed into success. We need to teach our students to be fearless. The risk aversion comes from the fear of unknown.
Modern world is so demanding on our managers. To enable them to perform to the best of their capabilities and to enhance organizational interests we have to buffer them against the fear of failure, rejection or punishment. Let not the academia and industry snuff out the creativity and innovation of the young creators and risk takers. We need to stand by them when they show a willingness to create something new.
As of the pathways, it is possible only if we start demolishing our classroom walls and try to make our classrooms on the lines of labs where experimentation and innovation are as important as dissemination of knowledge in the conventional setups. This will usher in innovation driven thought process and a culture of investment in innovation. The investment on innovation may seem little higher initially, but this can be worked around by prototyping first for any new product or programme. Awareness is also extremely important to support the spirit as gives a wider number of options to and bigger framework to operate in and a holistic perspective of the situation.
Mediocrity: It is a natural fallout of the fear of failure. The philosophy of being the best or e quit the field, will make a tremendous sense, if it can be ingrained in the young minds. It is not that the we need only the top players but yes the thought and spirit to be the top players will make the players deliver the best.
Siloed existence: We have to come out of the siloed existence in framework of our specialization of HR , Finance, IT and so on . A good manager has to have an exceptionally brilliant knowledge of his domain along with fine interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary approach. No business can thrive in isolation. Welingkar is business school through and through yet it is our constant endevour to explore and learn more from the society. This can be achieved with a 360 degree approach and collaborations.
Team spirit: Indian team spirit with people is very individualistic nor are we doing much to encourage it towards the desired level or direction. We can devise out educational clusters and with various faculty and branches under one roof. We at Welingkar are trying to do that in Mumbai University; we have already signed up with TISS for Socal Service, Industrial Design Centre (IDC) of IIT Mumbai for Design and VJTI for engineering.
Perpetual optimism: No matter how you perceive or word it but positivity breeds growth and good Results and it has to be a constant ingredient of our thinking pattern. Negativity has to be kept at bay at all costs. Positive attitude is the most recommendable way to ease into fearless mindset. One has to be stubbornly positive in attitude.
Underlining the importance of teachers as leaders Dr Salunkhe said that head of an institution bestowed with good leadership qualities can conjure great turnarounds. A teacher who is a good leader and visionary can catalyze changes in the desired direction. In modern times teachers have larger roles of responsibility and leadership roles to play. They not only have the power to engineer the most monumental turnarounds but also the potential to and the potential to trigger productive thinking process, ideation, innovation thus setting their students on a path of experimentation and innovation with a fearless and positive mindset as they emerge as global leaders and managers.