Tuesday, September 8, 2009

From Thought to System

Sometime ago, I saw a beautiful advertisement for a consulting company which showed human footprints on a seashore and declared - "Your ideas are like these. Unless you convert them to solid reality, they'll be gone in no time." * 

I agree completely.

Every day, we realise certain simple solutions and truths related to our day-to-day existence. Most of these are pretty basic, direct, and simple. But nonetheless, they are solutions. On some specific moments, we come across really great ideas.

But in most cases, our ideas vanish by the time the next morning arrives. You know why? We lack the discipline of converting them into solid reality. So how does one go about doing that? 

Here is a stepwise Ideas Management process -
  1. Whenever you come across any idea, write it down in your diary. This is the indispensable first step. (remember sand, waves, shore?)
  2. Reflect on your idea when you are no longer in the thick of operational busy-ness of the typical manager's working day.
  3. Involve others also, as they can share and contribute. Of course, you must be personally comfortable while doing so.
  4. See what's the "time span of appilcability" of the idea. Can it be applied immediately to solve some short-term issue, or is it a long term idea suited to address some grand strategic issue?
  5. There are only three things you can do with an idea. Act upon it now (option A), Store it for later retrieval (option B), or Dump it (option C).
  6. Once you are sure of what you want to do with the idea - A, B or C - take action accordingly.
  7. Get approvals, sanctions, agreement, consensus.. and push it forward.
  8. Take full personal ownership of that idea. Remember - usually nothing moves forward in an organisation unless someone takes ownership of it.
  9. Push, push, push .. till it achieves its desired destination.
Let me share an example.

Some time ago, a colleague of mine suggested that maintaining "good health" is a serious concern for young people everywhere. So, we can try to do something about it. We thought over this matter for some days, and realised that a solution needed to be found that was - cheap, easy to implement, and acceptable to one and all generally.

Then came the group ideation stage where everyone sat together and hammered out the idea in its practically implementable format - Walk PT Walk - a daily brisk walk of 3.5 kms for everyone, staff and students. The idea is simple - you sweat profusely, get refreshed from within, and stay fit from the cardio-vascular point of view.

We were cautious about not getting into the "gym" rut - it is too costly, deters many, and generally cannot be used as a team-building tool.**

We really went after this idea strongly. It was implemented for the staff of PTHQ, PROTON campuses, and SBM campuses. And also for students of PROTON and SBM. We pushed it hard, and provided significant leadership for several weeks, till leaders were created at all levels.

Today we look back with pride (it has been just 3 months) and can proudly say "We did it!" An idea was born, got refined, was test-piloted, and finally taken to execution. But the most important thing - it was made into a system to be followed.

Full credit goes to the students and staff who willingly accepted all this, and made it a success. Thanks everyone, and promise me that you will spread this far and wide, for the benefit of more people.

The media started taking note. We proved that a substantially good idea was converted to consistent reality.

What a satisfaction it has been, putting theory into practice. Trust me, nothing gives greater joy to a practising manager/leader. So get cracking with your own Ideas Management process. My best wishes!

Closing remark - remember our talk on Kaizen? It is interesting to see Kaizen put into practice with the software I use to upload my blogs daily. Everyday, I am observing small improvements that are making it easier for me to work with this software.  

* Interestingly that company itself vanished a few months later! 
** I was in the Weight-lifting and Power-lifting teams at IIT Delhi (1989-1993). I know what it takes!



Bhupendra said...

"Your ideas are like these. Unless you covert them to solid reality, they'll be gone in no time." *

What an Idea Sir Ji.

Your post quite hit me at the right place

My friend( Also named Sandeep)and I use to discuss a lot ideas of various new kind of software services.
We brainstormed alot regarding those ideas.(It has been more then 1 years since we are discussing them)

What we concluded was that in order to implement them .. we need more depth in knowledge and a platform as well.

This stepwise process for managing the ideas will be very helpful for Us

I will share this post with my friend(Sandeep).

I have been visiting lots of forums
trying to gain perspective in this regard

Few important i would like to share with you sir :

http://ecorner.stanford.edu/(great site)


And as for the consulting company which vanished :
Nida Fazli ka yeh sher yaad aagaya

"kabhii kabhii yuuN bhii hamane apane hii ko bahalaayaa hai
jin baaton ko Khud nahiin samajhe auron ko samajhaayaa hai"


Test said...

Good shayari Bhupendra! I'll check out the sites you mentioned.

Vidit Shah said...

Respected Sir,
Great insight, its always good to make note of ideas and connect them when ever necessary.
As we all do in the Economist session, we make notes of each and every flow of idea and connect the dots when ever necessary.
That was a successful effort to make us realize the importance of jotting down the creative or necessary thoughts.

Vidit Shah
Carnegie Hall

Unknown said...

Dear Sir,
Another wonderful reading.
The first thing that struck my mind after reading your blog was
"Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come"
Ideas are just ideas, greatness is imparted in execution and implementation.
In one of the sessions at PT, you taught us that it is idea economy. One who can capitalize on them and elicit maximum, leads the world.
Ideas revolutionize.
We all are blessed to share such nuggets of knowledge and wisdom.
Thank you Sir.

Yours sincerely
Munish Sharma
Fall'09, Indore.

keyur joshi said...

Hello sir,

Thank you for very much for your today's article again. Its good to hear that in PROTON there is a "walk" for the students and staffs to maintain their health.

Well, sir, as we all know the role of technology in today's world. Everywhere, people uses technologies in their life to manage different things.

So, if possible can we have the articles on some of the exisiting or future technologies[(like; Ubiquitious Computing,WML(Wireless Markup Language)etc]).

Means, How will be they implemented? and if implemented, what will be the effect of peole and their life style etc..

Keyur Joshi

Test said...

Thanks Vidit, Munish and Keyur for reading and commenting!

Surely, tonight's post will be on technology.

Saurabh Soni said...


We are in the age of transformation..Ideas will keep hitting us but it is the sheer power of execution of those good ideas which will differentiate good from better & better from the best..The youth of this country has to take the onus..I read a lot about Bhagat Singh in the las few days and how we executed his ideas.The actions mentioned your post are true examples of ideas to execution..This is a must read post for all readers..


Seema said...

Respected Sir,
Very rightly said that ideas are only thoughts until you put them into action. Devashish Sir, in the very first lecture said that value of knowledge is zero, until you implement it. He gave an example of WALK, that everybody knew that any kind of exercise is good for health. But how many actually implemented that. I still remember not many hands were raised. Now we are implementing it, so it has value.
THANK YOU SIR for such an great IDEA AND ACTION as well
Seema Patil
Indore campus

Test said...

Saurabh : interesting to hear about Bhagat Singh. Any specific thing that struck you the most in those readings?

Seema : it was successful because of you students! thanks

Unknown said...

Goodmorning Sir,

Out there you have used the word "Covert" which means "hidden" as per my thought it may be "Convert". Please throw some light if i am incorrect.

The ideas you gave or mentioned in the 'From Thought to System'are really fit deep into my understanding.
I experienced an incident which i would like to share over here -Once in my own garden i was watching a small spider sitting in a rose flower and after a while an insect came and the spider just pounced on it. i derived two learnings
1)An oppurtunity can strike you anytime one needs to be patient to encash it
2)One's own home is the most beautiful place to be in because the place you think to be the most beautiful may throw upon you the ugliest situation.

Proton Nikhil Sukhlecha

Chetan Choparia said...

Respected Sir,

"Ideas that makes the difference",if implemented correctly and at the right time.

Great learning once again.

Thank You,

Proton Chetan Choparia
Fall 09

jauntyankit said...

Respected Sir,
Wonderful article!

Ideas are useless without its proper implementation.

I also thank you for the "PT WALK" exercise at the campus daily because it makes me feel energetic and healthy.

Proton Ankit Talera

Test said...

Dear Protons Ankit, Chetan and Nikhil - nice to read your comments.

"Convert" correction done. Thanks!

shailesh said...

Dear Sir,
first I would like thankyou for this wonderful article as well as walk exercise which we do daily. it helps us to maintan physical and mental fitness.

shraddha said...

Hello Sir,
I never jotted down the things till my graduation apart from the notes related to academics only.

But PROTON has changed me a lot.Now I maintain a diary in which I make 'to do' list daily.(although I m left with some pending work at the end of the day)But i am sure that it will get all work
done soon.

I also want to share my experience about the walk.On first day of my session i couldn't complete even 3 rounds.I felt that i m going to fall down .Then i realised that i am so weak physically.Then i decided that i have to make myself fit.

Now I m able to complete all the rounds.(Although my speed is slower than others but I'll cover up that also)

I have noticed a great improvement in my stamina also.

Thanks Sir for this initiative for us.

Proton Shraddha

Anurag Khandekar said...

Respected Sir,
Sometimes in our life there comes a phase where everything starts rising for our betterment, though initially it seems indomitable but if you approach it optimistically and harbor immense faith in your capabilities you will succeed in achieving the indomitable. This is how i perceived your blog and this transformation will surely help me in my future. i would like thank you for initiating such a great art of exercise which will make us fit and relieve our stress simultaniously.

Anurag Khandekar,
Fall'09 Carnegie Hall

Test said...

Hi Shailesh, Shraddha, Anurag - thanks for commenting.

If you actually start maintaining a daily diary, trust me, your efficiency and productivity will rise by at least 100%. Guaranteed!

Daily brisk walking is one of the FINEST ways of staying fit. You can walk several kilometers without gasping for breath. And that is a big big differentiator in the corporate world!