Guest AuthorPavan Soni

Inflexion Point

By | Dr Pavan Soni | IIM-B Innovation Evangelist

Sharing the Inflexion Point, a monthly on the interesting research studies, surveys, puzzles and insights on how to shape creative teams, foster organizational innovation, and have a robust strategy, with sources ranging from NatGeo to MIT Tech Review.
Also, sharing a TED-styled talk on Human Centered Design that identifies five practices of how great innovations transcend technological possibilities.
Do read and reflect at leisure.
Why do we value art? Is it for its scarcity or originality (in beholder’s eyes), or the effort? Or something entirely different? There are companies like Amper Music and Spotify which aren’t far away from rendering music and other forms of art entirely generated by machines. If machines can replace humans anywhere from driving to disbursing cash and performing more-than-routine tasks; composing art may not be all that non-trivial. What then remains human? (Source: Scientific American)
It’s for long known that pursuing pastime and hobbies help enhance creativity, but the question is — how exactly? Scientists note that for the fellow researchers, which are often stressed with over 60-hours work weeks, hobbies help them relax, expand the network, weaken fixed and strong associations at work or about concepts that help with problem-solving,  and even helps get a sense of accomplishment. The trick is to ensure that you deliberately identify pastime, and then follow it up religiously. (Source: Nature)
While a greater number of employees are taking learning programs online through MOOCs, the employers somehow don’t seem to gain. Latest research suggests that a large share of employees spend their own money, time and opportunity cost to upgrade their skills, but are seldom noticed by their employers, and hence, achieve career growth, albeit in a different organization. The imperative is for the employer to support and fund the programs, else they stand to lose talent. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
One of the most awaited and comprehensive reports on the state of global innovation, country level, is out. The top ten most innovative countries are: Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, Singapore, USA, Finland, Denmark, Germany, and Ireland. Interesting, India ranks at 57, up from 60 last year, while China is at 17. While India’s weakness on institutions and infrastructures is well know, the country scores high on its market sophistication, and knowledge and technology output, particularly on the ease of protecting minority investors, knowledge diffusion and state of cluster development. (Source: Cornell INSEAD WIPO)
Arguably the largest study of global CEOs, the IBM C-Suite Study covering over 12,000 CXOs, and throws some very incisive pointers on the state of innovation and business priorities. Firstly, the CXOs opine that it’s not startups, but incumbents that are dominating the innovation landscape by leveraging digital technologies, and power of platforms. These companies are betting on newer business models, tapping into consumer data, and embracing agility to remain competitive. (Source: IBM)
One of the most iconic companies in the business history is fast becoming a history! General Electric, the company Edison founded and Welch ran for a long time, withered away under the leadership of Immelt, a Harvard MBA. Several reasons for the demise, ranging from a culture which is lacking candor, to poor execution, and unthoughtful capital allocation, but it’s sufficient to say that it hurts to see the giant failing. Here’s a very insightful piece on what has led to the current state of GE. (Source: Fortune)
Have we evolved to be creative, or has creativity lead us to evolve radically? The answer seems to be our creativity as the catalyst of continuous, and often radical change that has led to us, the way we are. The article reflects on how human imagination and the ability to realise it seems to be the most distinctive ability we possess, and this has led us to tame the nature, fellow animals, and create communities, which only accelerate evolution. (Source: National Geographic)
Go to market is the new buzzword in the startup circle, for budding entrepreneurs are realizing that a good technology is just the beginning. Being a category creator makes the ordeal even more taxing, since one has to both create the market and ensure a sizable chunk of the pie. Here is a five point agenda of how new companies can become a force to reckon with in markets that didn’t exist before. The journey starts with communicating the utility and ends with cultivating habits. (Source: Founder Institute)
Every years, since 1999, the MIT Technology Review has been publishing its much awaited 35 Innovators Under 35 list. In fact, the 1999 list had these three names- Sabeer Bhatia of Hotmail, Jerry Yang of Yahoo!, and Jonathan Ive, of Apple, each under 35, then. Today’s list looks more AI dominated, and interesting, female dominated (for the very first time). Some of the interesting advents include better ways of disease management, new material for healing injuries, better ways of learning, and cleaner energy. (Source: MIT Tech Review)
Blockchain has made a lot of news of late, especially on its valuations and disruptive potential. However, the technology may not be as disruptive or reliable as thought of. In this incisive article, the authors identify the domains in which the technology could make a maximum impact, and dispel a few long-held myths around the technology and its usage. Beyond financial services, public sector would be a big beneficiary of the technology, while its short-term utility would be mostly cost savings, with a growing value-add with time. (Source: McKinsey & Co.)

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