Tag Archive: innovation


Winning million dollar deal in IT sector is getting challenging as competition gets stiffer and customer becomes choosier. Traditional mechanism of responding to RFX has become more Templatized, it is neither standing out for vendors nor Wow-ing for Customers. Having spent past years in Business Development roles (Pre-Sales), I have also adopted more proactive measures to approach customers with Proactive Proposals to sell our products and services. Even in this, we have mostly focused on “What We Have” in terms of products & services and “How Do We Pitch” them to customers. Both approaches, Reactive & Proactive, have surely given us great successes in winning many large deals. But I have always felt, we could have done better job of finding Real problem zone of customer and pitching it right into that Zone. Retrospectively, I feel, issue was not about approach but mindset. Instead of thinking into customer business challenges and opportunities, we focused on fixing our offerings into our perceived customer context.

In business development, we all are too familiar with strategies of Account Hunting, Mining and Farming, etc. Now, there is new term on horizon, called, Account Nurturing. Account Nurturing is about creating newer opportunities, unearthing hidden problems and discovering unstated needs by Design Thinking approach, which put emphasis on listening, user empathy, whole-brain thinking, collaboration, and experimentation. Design Thinking methodology can enable our front line sales and pre-sales consultants to acquire greater new skills in problem-finding, in analytical decision making, and in being creative, and innovative, in a whole new and exciting way.

Since completion of Design Thinking Certification program on Coursera, I have attempted to apply it in most of my dealings. Here, I share my Applied Design Thinking approach for Winning B2B deals by Developing real Requirements from customers.

It is neither about “Building Things Right” nor “Building Right Things”, but both “Building Right Thing Right..”!!!.

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Today, attended a very enlightening talk on ‘Innovation’ from Dr. Jay Rao of famous Babson University. Meeting him in person was a great experience, I found him to be an very energetic professor with warm in-person touch. Though, this session was of a short duration, but we could get good glimpse of his body of knowledge. Amongst many thought provoking interactions during session, I could jot down few of my observations from my notes.

Need of Innovation:

With information revolution taking place in early 90s, there comes the era of insecurity for big corporations who, till now, maintained their kingdom by withholding expertize, experience and knowledge of their products/services in tight grips. But, internet brought that knowledge to everyone in the world to make it flatten plateau of equal opportunity. To this there was varied response, many didn’t care about it and didn’t decided not to change a thing, resultantly, they perished to become dead meat for crows. Few embraced the path to peruse more expenditure on Research and Development to stay competitive but could not achieve desired benefits.

Flaws in Implementation: 

Many of organization thought that this was an additional expense which they have to live with to compete in market. So, they defined their Innovation Strategy as an additional expense in RnD. During start phase, approach succeeded, but failed at later phases. Following this, they started to wonder the correlations between R&D Spent & Innovation success as well as relationship of R&D effort with ROI timeline. Perhaps, there was no such formula to arrive at an academic approach or some scientific formula to tap into Innovation.innovation

Major Reason of Failure 

However, they could nail down few major reasons of its failure. Although, many organization persevered to their innovation efforts, their efforts fell for most obvious trap, Lack of Funds. With quarterly pressure of performance and profit, many innovation research were scuttled due to budget constraints. Some of remaining research effort, which could manage this budget hurdle, failed to convince stakeholders for additional time. Despite having enough time and budget, remaining fell due to running either in wrong direction or with wrong strategy for long duration. It was not just the profit loss, but also the loss of moral of its Innovation leaders.

Real Core of It: 

After doing all deliberation on all cause, one fact came out very strong, it not about process, people or practice to enforce innovation but the core culture of organization. Experimentation and Failure of two side of Innovation and one can’t ignore other. It comes together as we proceed with it. And the culture which encourages Experiment and takes Failure in its stride, are the ultimate champion of Innovation. Organization need to ask a question before embarking on this journey, “Do they have War Chest to take Failures?”.

Innovation is a Discipline:

As we understand, Innovation is about an application of Idea to create a new useful product/service to order to provide greater value to its customers. It is a deliberate application of 3Is, namely, Information, Imagination and Initiative. Moreover, this is a risk taking initiative to uncertain outcomes and unknown customer behavior.

Professor reiterated, Innovation was a discipline which could be learnt, practiced and mastered in a structured fashion but differed on its measurable aspects. He argued, if objective was just profit, measurement was easy, if objective is for Social up-liftment or urge for Creativity or need of Independence, etc., same might be difficult.

Radical Innovation: 

Innovation could be of two types. One Evolutionary and other could be Revolutionary. Evolutionary is is more like Continuous Innovation which gives Linear Growth but Revolutionary is driven by Continuous Experimentation of disruptive in nature and gives possibility of Non-Linear growth. Prof stressed, for successful practice, it could not be either of them, instead it had to be both of them together.

Nascent Stage: 

Innovation has been the buzz word for sometime now, yet, there is no definite and established practice for it. Innovation, as a discipline, is at its nascent stage to become a practice just like we had Marketing and Quality in 20-30 years back.

References:

Here I am sharing my experience at PMP Conference 2007.

I have attended a penal discussion with Wg. Cmd. Patrawall and his panel. It was quite thought provoking. Here are some of the points, impressed me.

Organizational Success:

Integrating three main ingredients:

  • People
  • Process
  • Technology

Stages of innovation:

  1. Leadership
  2. Funding
  3. Incubation
  4. Walk the talk

Project Management success relies on understanding of following aspects of project.

  1. Vision
  2. Purpose
  3. Goals

Inspirations for innovation:

  • Innovation comes from hearts.
  • It is about getting most from least.
  • Free your mind. Tranquilize it.
  • Mistakes are stepping stones of innovation.
  • Innovations done not happen overnight.
  • Stay away from autocratic procedures.
  • Innovator has to think-outside-the-box.

Innovator should be aware about:

  • Value creation for stockholder.
  • Marketplace transition
  • Process to get there.

Circle of innovation for an organization:

  • Passion
  • Vision
  • Process
  • Values
  • Standard

Generally, Project Managers in IT industry think that after PM designation their engagement with technology is over rather they should just play organization and people game. This is where they kill innovation and core competency. It should not be encouraged either from organization or culture. It should be about keeping core business competency alive and contributing from all sides.

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