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Innovation Is Not A One-time “Being innovative is not an outcome but an approach. Hence, one should think radically and come up with out-of-thebox solutions. The first solution is not the best solution and so, one should not be discouraged by initial failures,” assert Samarth Mungali and Bhavna Bahri in unison. The co-founders of No Formulae, a design firm, share the same ideology and passion for excellence. Excerpts of the conversation with Purna Parmar…

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efining Innovation

In a sentence, innovation could be defined as new creations put into practice, which generate the intended result. Though innovation has become the management and business buzzword of the decade, it is a simple ageold concept, which has been naturally followed time and again throughout the process of human evolution. Fire, for instance, has been the turning point in human evolution. Man did not invent fire. He merely put the same fire, which was already present in nature, to his use. Innovation, therefore, can be considered new creations for some intended purpose, which could be in the form of products to solve a new demand/use, or a process to improve the existing or future scenario. Innovation could also be in the form of a strategy to start or expand a business. It can also be referred to as creating something like a product, service, plan, process, etc. that did not exist before. Large industries have a fair idea of their markets, products and customers’ needs and therefore, try to innovate; whereas numerous micro, small & medium-scale industries mainly focus on their established/ current product & practices and seldom consider other possibilities or opportunities. Predominantly, innovation in India is a reactive process rather than being a visionary and proactive one. Manufacturers feel the need to innovate only when they are losing ground to their competitors.

Shop floor Innovations

In a manufacturing set up, shop floor is the

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Event, But A Continuous Process ideal place to innovate. Henry Ford can be christened the father of shop floor innovation as his implementation of the assembly line became the standard practice in most manufacturing scenarios. Innovation in the shop floor can happen in various domains like plant layout, movement of goods and people, production, material, processes, personnel skills & training, spaces, lighting, safety, ergonomics, etc. A simple example can be of a woodworking unit where we introduced multi-level quality checks, which were coded by coloured stickers on the products. This move ensured that the product had passed its check during each step of production. The workers at each production step were aware of what defined ‘quality’ for their work. Thus, having them rate it during the final inspection doubly ensured that the products produced were of good quality. In addition, shop floor innovations play a vital role in enhancing efficiency and productivity on the shop floor. Changes in the ecosystem of the organisation makes it viable for businesses to regularly assess the shop floor and bring in innovations to increase efficiency.

Mantra to turn an idea to business

All lucrative business opportunities are conceived from a great idea. Nonetheless, all great ideas do not translate into lucrative business prospects as a great idea is not the only ingredient required to ensure the success of a business. A great idea needs to be validated from a business point of view. Things like viability, acceptability and relevance are pivotal in making the business idea a success. In design, ideas follow observation. They are solutions to the problem at hand. Thus, if a great idea comes after understanding the intended user and his or her need, and is the most appropriate answer to the problem, half the work is done. Thereafter, all it takes is hard work and perseverance to bring the idea to the market. A thorough understanding of the user will enable one to decide on the best manner in which the idea can be implemented. m ay 2 0 1 1 | SEARCH - THE INDUSTRIAL SOURCEBOOK

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but also goes a step further by performing better than required.

About No Formulae… It is a design firm, which practices design innovation, brings in creativity and innovation in business domains, which translate into better customer experience, lower costs and higher revenues. The company specialises in using design and design thinking to conjure up tailor-made creative and innovative strategies & solutions for businesses. No Formulae has successfully worked with major players in the travel, real estate, food, lifestyle & well-being industry along with creating award-winning design solutions like the Acceptor, a masquerade for the existing disposable syringe, which will minimise the trauma attached with being injected. your success strategies

Let’s discuss a recent scenario. We were approached to design unique packaging for a range of organic cosmetic products. After studying the complete lifecycle of the product packaging and consumers, we chanced upon the idea of using paper pulp for its environment friendliness and other technical properties. To convert this idea into reality, we worked more on the design from the decided material, viz, paper pulp, which could be easily manufactured and transported. Using paper pulp not only offers economic viability, it also has an inviting yet distinct appeal to it.

Attaining innovation-led growth for SMEs

Innovation does not always arrive with every radically new product or approach. There are numerous possibilities wherein SMEs can get innovative in their current set up. Areas like processes, set ups, strategy, communication, people, etc. can be explored for incremental or radical innovations.

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creating an innovative design

An inherent quality of design is innovation. Thus, every good design is innovative in some way or the other. Without this, a new design would be a replica of what already exists. The true concept of design is creating something new and holds relevance for the intended purpose. Thus, the mantra for design, which by default would be innovative, is that it must start with a clear outline of the problem for which a solution, i.e. design, is being proposed. This involves understanding the users, their needs & habits, the system and scenario surrounding the user & the proposed solution viz, market, competition, channel, etc. Design, being a reiterative process, churns out various possibilities that qualify as a solution. Of these, the one which can be called the final design is that which not only solves every requirement in hand

Five factors to make India an innovation hub

A synergy between the following five factors would lead to the creation of an environment where innovation would flourish. Firstly, one should be able to view things from a micro as well as macro level. People should be able to quickly identify problems and perceive them as opportunities. Secondly, technology should be utilised to one’s benefit. It is easier to connect to and learn about ideas and solutions that one thinks of. Thirdly, the government policies and facilities should promote innovators and ensure that they easily and quickly bring their innovation to the market. Fourthly, one can look for cues to innovative ideas in India’s rich cultural heritage. Finally, multitasking and the ability to work & connect to the various domains, which are involved from the concept to the market stage, are integral for the success of an innovation.

Strategies to foster innovation and entrepreneurial spirit

Entrepreneurs with an innovative approach have had the strongest impact on society – be it the people who brought the automobiles to the market, or those who have made the idea of selling potable water in bottles a reality. An innovative approach complemented by an entrepreneurial spirit is probably the best bet to ensure the success of a business. Being innovative is not an outcome but an approach. Hence, one should think radically and come up with out-of-the-box solutions. The first solution is not the best


solution and so, one should not be discouraged by initial failures. It is important to remember that entrepreneurship is an attitude, which involves the integral fibre of risk taking. With these two attributes, a person will not hesitate to traverse the road less travelled.

developing a perfect ecosystem for product & process innovation

Communication is important for innovation. The collaborative effort of listening, discussing, outlining problems and solutions with people on the shop floor along with the staff will foster a healthy environment where an innovative spirit would flourish. Innovation is not the domain of a particular individual in an organisation. It is an attitude, which must be adopted by everyone. To build this attitude, a visionary leader who encourages transparency and simple systems is required; an attitude of encouraging the trial of new ideas and celebrating & learning from failures is also important.

Critical elements to sustain innovation

Innovation is not a one-time event, but a

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continuous process. To make innovation happen, businesses must be quick to understand market changes and spot any opportunities that may come their way. They should be able to quickly adapt to the changing situations and create innovations in the form of products, services, processes, strategies, and so on and so forth to meet their customers’ needs.

Emerging design trends

The emerging trend that would be more visible in the coming years would be the designer, the manufacturer and the user all merging into a single entity. For example, one would be able to create a customised piece of furniture using simple tools and technology. Technology would make mass customisation possible for everyone. Gone are the days where one size fitted all. Other trends that are on the rise are of making products more intuitive, easy to use, with only a small learning curve. Products are becoming more functional, cost-effective and pleasing to the senses. People are beginning to understand the lifecycle and eco-footprints of various products and would make their choices in

favour of the planet. This would encourage more sustainable products and practices in future.

Design philosophy to success

No Formulae is a multi-disciplinary design firm, which makes innovation for businesses possible by using the tools of design and design thinking. We share the belief that design holds the answers to most of the problems and is often the way forward – be it for things which you can hold and feel or things like strategy and systems whose effects you perceive. It always begins with in-depth research into the context and the subject. By understanding the problem well, we are able to create a perfect solution. Design gives us the invaluable quality of empathising with the users. Understanding the user makes it possible for us to design a market-approved offering. We have a multi-disciplinary team, which offers us a strong understanding of design and creative ability. It makes us understand the nuances of business like market, finance, manufacturing, human resource, etc. Our solutions are always designed keeping all of these factors in mind.


No Formulae featured in Search Magazine - May 2011