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May - 2007 - issue > Sage Speak
Evolving and Managing an Idea
Pawan Ranga
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Bright ideas come unannounced. Innovation does not choose time or place to appear. AHA moments are defined as sudden insights. In this scenario, how can a techie evolve and manage an idea in an eco system (his company) consisting more than 50,000 like-minds? How can he be heard and develop his idea in a large organization that follows strong and rigid processes? This is where evolving and managing an idea comes into play. While it becomes imperative for the organization to create an environment that encourages innovation, it becomes more so significant for the techie to voice his ideas- the key word being ‘communicate.’

Steps towards evolving an idea:
Realization: Narrow mindset kills ideas even before they are born. A techie should step away from his ‘shop-floor’ and look beyond. An attitude ringing to the tune of ‘It is not my job, so I will not involve myself in it’ will get him nowhere. Once he hits this realization that the ultimate freedom to conjure creative solutions lay with him and nobody else, he will begin to think like an innovator.

2. Know Your Organization: This would be the most important factor: Whom are you innovating for? For ideas to be heard in large organizations, they should be relevant to the company’s business goals; otherwise it is equivalent to addressing an empty auditorium. I have come across many young techies who felt their bosses didn’t give their ideas a second thought due to their age or inexperience, while the reality was that the idea did not relate to the business model of the organization. So no matter how good the idea, it has to be relevant and for this, the techie has to know his organization, its business ideals, values and goals.

Steps towards managing the idea:
1. Know the channel: After evolving an idea, knowing where to sell it holds the key to success. If sent through the wrong channels it is equivalent to selling, again, in an empty auditorium. Working in a particular domain, you might stumble across an innovative method that would have a better impact in other domains. You have to find someone who would value your ideas for what they are and choose the right channel to sell it. I came across a techie who had an innovative idea in the field of networking while he was at that point immersed in another field. He pitched his idea to the team in charge of innovation within the company and is today heading the networking division of that company.
2. Access to capital: Many young techies are under the misconception that if the idea is big, it indicates huge inaccessible capital investment; thus they terminate the idea at its roots.
The company should help do away with this mindset. The Indian economy is not the same as it were five years ago. There is more access to capital liquidity that can fuel big ideas.

All these four points would be invalid without with the support of the organization. Today’s large Indian IT firms, displayed on pedestals for the world to see, have foundations that rest on strong, well-built processes chartered by yester year visionaries. Ironically, stronger processes have given lesser room for innovation among employees at an individual level. While everyone encourages innovations and new ideas, it becomes difficult for techies to find space among the old processes to express themselves. A catch-22 situation, where neither can budge lest the foundation gets affected, is created. Hence the organization should empower the techie within limits i.e., within the processes, and it is for the techie to push these limits and evolve and manage his idea through its conception to its successful takeoff.

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