THE MANILA TIMES
Business Times p.B5
Monday, September 15, 2003
LEARNING AND INNOVATION
By Moje Ramos-Aquino
Innovation only successful if implemented
If you are going to the US, be sure to spend ample time in Sta. Fe, New Mexico. It is indeed an apt venue for an innovation workshop. Life here is serene and laidback. No rush, no stress. People walk leisurely at any time of the day. No traffic. There seems to be more art pieces in so many museums, galleries and craft shops than people and cars. The most famous is the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. And the best place to stay is the Hotel St. Francis on San Gaspar Street.
Walking the streets of Sta. Fe is like feeding the soul. It heightens your spiritual feelings.
The real reason I am here, though, is to attend the “Seeds of Innovation” Trainor Certification Workshop. We have outstanding program designers, facilitators and resource persons from the Innovation Group. They are innovation guru and author (Seeds of Innovation, American Management Association, 2002) Elaine Dundon, Dr. Alex Pattakos and Kathy Trickey.
My fellow participants were innovation leaders of Cargill Sweeteners North America, Thomas Ryba; Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., Lori Gandy; University of California in San Bernardino Clifford Young and Kraft Foods R&D: Kari Kunath, Colleen Carey, Ellen Chamberlain, Bill Croasmun, Leslie Hasbrouck and Ray Laudano (fondly called Peter “Sparky” Louisiana).
One interesting thing about the innovators from Kraft is their position titles. They don’t hold traditional position titles such as manager or engineer. They get to give themselves their own title, e.g. energized innovator, heightened sense for innovation, innovative product designer.
In two days that we were together, I could not tell who is boss or subordinate because they personified their preferred titles rather than their hierarchical positions. Amazing, how labels can really change people.
I learned a lot from all of them as much as I learned from the workshop itself. Our discussions were intense and passionate. New, better ideas and insights filled our room and eclipsed the bad service at the Hilton of Sta. Fe.
We experienced a variety of creative activities. On two occasions we were made to walk the streets of downtown Sta. Fe, in pairs, lugging Polaroid cameras. We took shots of people, things, plants and others that represent own passion and connectivity. The debriefing of these exercises were profound and very personal.
We studied and practiced the seeds of innovation—creative thinking, strategic thinking and transformational thinking.
Some of things I learned are:
• great ideas are not innovative unless they are successfully implemented;
• when we benchmark, we don’t just look for best practices, but more of possible next practices;
• when we just look intently, there are many positives from negative people, things and events;
• an organization can be innovative even if the industry or sector in which it competes is not typically known for innovation;
• what got accompany where it is today might not get it through the next few years;
• innovation is the discipline and practice of cultivating, supporting and sustaining innovation at the individual, team and organization levels;
• we look at innovation management in two distinct categories—business strategy and organizational design; and
• innovation is a combination of four building blocks: creativity or identification of a new idea; strategy or identification of useful idea; implementation or putting this new and useful idea into action and; profitable implementation or maximizing the added value from the implementation of this new and useful idea.
This is all for now. I am catching a flight to San Francisco and Berkeley to visit some friends. When I am back in Manila, I shall revive my workshop called Innovation Camp. Abangan.
Ms. Moje Ramos-Aquino is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp and designs and facilitates innovation interventions. She awaits your emails at email@example.com.