Monday, September 22, 2003

Flexibility and human interaction

Business Times p.B5
Monday, September 22, 2003

By Moje Ramos-Aquino
Flexibility and human interaction

IT WAS a big relief to savor adobo, sinigang, paksiw and Selecta Ice Cream again after several days of tacos, burritos, green chilis, red chilis, Haagen Daz y algunas otra comidas Mexicana in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Thanks to relatives in Berkeley, California, for their usual hospitality. These are the Aquinos: Joven, Gemma, Jennifer, John and Joseph and the Jacobs: Manang Nena, Tatang Jose, Liza, Beth, Jojo, Gus and Gooby. Gilman, Nielson and Peralta Streets in Berkeley are their territory and Tagalog is spoken there. It is heartening to know that people could change without changing. They are Americans outside, but remain Filipinos to the core. Uh-huh.

Let me share some more innovative ideas from the Seeds of Innovation Trainer´s Training Program I attended in Santa Fe, conducted by The Innovation Group led by Innovation Guru and author Elaine Dundon (Seeds of Innovation, AMA, 2002) and Dr./Prof. Alex Pattakos. I hope this would lead you into the road of innovation.

• The primary basis for creativity is a curious mind. The three curiosity questions that push individuals the farthest into new territory are: “Why?,” “What if?” and “What else?.”

• You must believe that everyone is creative because without it, there is no innovation. Some traits of the creative thinker are: willingness to challenge the status quo, curiosity, being adventurous, imaginative, able to make connections, observant, flexible, reflective, playful, tolerates being in the unknown, continuously learning, enjoys complexity and others.

• Try these creative-thinking exercises: Your budget has been cut in half, what would you do? Your budget has been doubled, what would you do?

• In today’s world, demanding customers are always looking for the extraordinary or the exceptional, surprising or unusually great. To shift from the ordinary to the extraordinary, these strategies could be used: target the most profitable customers, offer something distinctly new and better, set your innovation priorities, make sure it is easy, pick up the pace, systematize with modules, profit from the power of branding, add credibility and create magnet-works.

• Innovation is a transformational challenge as well as a creative and strategic one. It is not about statistical process control; it is about flexibility and human interaction.

• Some characteristics of an innovative organizations are: they encourage all employees, partners and suppliers to take an active role in innovation, they welcome new ideas and new approaches, they look to the future to anticipate the customers’ future needs, they redefine the rules of the game and challenge complacent competitors, they empower their customers with information and more control over the purchasing process, they embrace new technology to strengthen their competitive advantage and others.

• Your company is in Innovation Rut and needs to take corrective action immediately if: your products and services have lost their competitive edge, you lack consensus on what you would like to see happen within your organization in the next few years, you spend more time discussing the present and the past than you do on looking to the future, you spend more time on internal issues than in pleasing your external customers, you rarely discuss and acknowledge your weaknesses, valuable information is being held too tightly and not shared, innovation efforts are not rewarded or recognized, people are not really enjoying their work and others.

• The three P’s of innovation are passion, patience and perseverance.

• Remember, if you want others to believe in your idea, you need to be passionate about it yourself.

• Innovation is about the courage to stand alone for a while until others catch up. Do you ever wonder how Alexander Graham Bell felt when he invented the telephone and people criticized his idea. People then thought he was crazy when he said that voices could travel through a wire. Thanks to the passion, patience and perseverance of Mr. Bell we are now enjoying our mobile phones. Thanks to its international roaming capability I am in touch with my family and friends anytime, anywhere I am. (Unless very important, don´t start sending text or calling me because that could send me to the poorhouse.)

• Finally, here´s a list of what innovation is not: just a new technology, sector-specific, just for the research and development department, isolated to special teams or “skunkworks,” a creative playroom, a one-off event, just a creativity training and just applicable to new products.
I am excited to do another “Innovation Camp” again when I am back in Manila. Let me put on my creative, strategic and transformational thinking cap to enable me to bring the Innovation Group to Manila. Abangan!

Moje Ramos-Aquino is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. and designs and facilitates interventions for innovative organizations. She awaits your reaction and comments on the topic of innovation at

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