Best Among What I Read Today – The Innovation Edition, Jan 5th 2017

In this edition of Best Among what I read, I would like to share some of the best content that I came across this week, on the topic of Innovation.

Use Design Thinking to Build Commitment to a New Idea

In this blog post, Roger Martin shares how the concepts of design thinking can be used not just to create new products or services but can be used for a much more important activity – to build commitments to the ideas that the design thinking team is working on. Innovation we have seen is not an idea problem but is a resistance to change problem. By keeping everyone involved in making a go/no-go decision for an innovation project, through the fundamental principles of design thinking, the resistance can be broken and innovation can flourish.

You can read the full blog post here.

Create a Structure for Unstructured Innovation

In this short video, Soren Kaplan, author of the best selling book – Leapfrogging talks about how adding structure to allow unstructured innovation to flourish. He talks about the Intuit Innovation Catalyst model, the Adobe Kickbox and the FedEx days (now called ShipIt), first pioneered by Atlassian. He also explains how these structures help innovation flourish in organisations.

You can watch the full vide below:

Why Your Corporate Culture Matters

In this short post, futurist and author of the best selling book Flash Foresight, Daniel Burrus shares his perspective on the importance of culture in an organisations transformation journey. He talks about how organisations can identify, what he calls hard trends and use these trends to shape their innovation pipeline and decision making.

You can also find a list of hard trends that he has identified for 2017 here.

You can read the entire blog post here.

Your Turn

Its now your turn. Pls do share articles that you have enjoyed reading about innovation here as comments.

Apple Does it Again!!

iPhone 7 + AirPods


I just finished watching the replay of iPhone 7 launch event. What is most interesting for me is that the way the Apple team has been able to keep their user at the centre and used technology to deliver some amazing features, some solving issues or problems that the users had forgotten all about, as we were so used to it that we were practically blind.

I am a big fan of Apple products – I use a iPhone 6, iPad Pro 12.9 and a MacBook Pro. I share this so that you know that are aware that you are listening to someone who obviously loves the products that this company puts out. So, if you want, take everything that I say with a grain of salt.

What Impressed Me

While increasing the processing power of the main chip, retina display, Ultra fast WiFi, new games (Mario) and all the other technology led features are important; addressing the competition with a new improved camera and including stereo sound is critical, What I am truly impressed by is the AirPods.

I have dabbled with some bluetooth headsets in the past with my iPhone, I have always been uncomfortable with them sticking out of my ears. When I tried the bluetooth headphones, they seemed too bulky for me to travel with.

So, I, like most of my friends and colleagues finally ended up settling on the iPhone wired headsets. They were the most convenient addressed our need the best among all our options.

These headsets come with their own challenges.

  1. At least with me, they get entangled every time i take them out of my box of wired accessories that i carry (including the charging cables and the laptop chargers).
  2. They have been more than 1 instances of me dropping off my iPhone due to sudden movement, as I don’t realise that they are connected to the headphone that i am wearing.
  3. While I have been satisfied with the sound quality that i have from these headsets, that is what i have experienced – satisfaction. No signature Apple “wow” since they were originally launched years ago.

The new AirPods solve most of the problems:

  1. They are wireless and will work seamlessly across my Apple devices, without me having to configure it to work with each device separately – with just one click. This in my opinion is not only great design, but great user centered design, as apple knows that most of the customers who will buy these AirPods will most likely also own other Apple devices. So, they designed the AirPods in a way that will not need their customers to separately pair them with the devices separately.
  2. They charge while stored in their box and not in use. That is also an elegant design. You will not only carry the case to keep your AirPods safe, but the same case will also charge the AirPods so that you never run out of charge.
  3. There are no buttons or interface on the AirPod. The claim is that they just work. You could use one piece to make a call or use both the pieces to listen to your favourite music or podcast, it just seamlessly knows this and adjusts sound accordingly. Another design element that clearly shows how deep the apple team understands their users world.
  4. The iPhone box comes with a 3.5 mm connected to the lightning cable and the regular headsets. So, they have also realised that not all the iPhone 7 users might be willing to go wireless and start using a AirPod, so they have provided maintained backward compatibility, out-of-the-box, which is a first of sorts.

In my opinion, if you think it is worth ordering your iPhone 7, it is worth ordering it along with the AirPods as well.

In addition to all these points, there could be other strategic motives for Apple to have taken this strategy. Matt Weinberger in his piece for Business Insider shares what he thinks Apple is doing with the AirPod strategy – Apple is moving beyond smartphones by creating a world where you never take off your headphones.

What’s Next for Apple

Having said all of this, I think Apple finds itself in a Rat Race, one that it doesn’t necessarily want to stay in but cant get out of either. All this talk about them not able to out – innovate their competitors the way they did with all their products in the past, with Steve at the helm is still troubling them and also in the long run will affect their stock performance.

They can create breakthrough products once they are able to identify a space where they want to play and put in their best minds to work on that space. Currently most of their energies seem to be targeted towards safeguarding their current investments and not on the next generation of products.

There are many rumours ofApple building an Augmented Reality platform (I do think it has to be a platform) and we will soon hear from them on this. This would be the next frontier that Apple needs to go and if their track record is anything to go with, I am sure that they could potentially bring VR/AR to mass adoption.

All said and done, I think if I held Apple shares today, I would not sell them in any hurry.


Predictable Reasons Why Product Managers Fail & How to avoid them.. 

I was recently invited to deliver a talk on “Practical Design Thinking for Product Managers” at an event held by the ‘Institute of Product Leadership” in Bangalore. 

While I cover the fundamentals of Design Thinking methodology and how it is applicable to product development in this talk, I also cover some fundamental flaws that product managers ignore which leads to their products to fail. I also share my thoughts on how this can be avoided. 

A video recording of the session can be found below. I hope this is useful to you. 

Practical Design Thinking for Product Managers – Prof. Mukesh Gupta from Institute of Product Leadership on Vimeo.

PBTO33: Creating Award Winning Products with Yogita Agarwal


Who is on the show today:

In this episode, we host Yogita Agarwal. She runs a product design studio in Mumbai called Ware Innovations. 

Why is she on the show:

In her short career so far, she has already won multiple awards for multiple products. She has won The Michael Kalil Endowment for Smart Design 2015 and The James Dyson Foundation Fund at Parsons 2015 for her product Jhoule.

She was also the team that won the Wearables for Good Challenge by UNICEF, Arm Technology and frog design, for her product – Soapen.

What do we Talk on the show:

In this freewheeling conversation, we talk about:

  • The story behind both the products that she was involved with
  • The process that she follows to come up with the products that we as entrepreneurs can learn from and incorporate when we are working on developing a product
  • Some key aspects of product development
  • The importance of going out in the field and talking and listening to real users instead of hiding behind our desks.
  • She also shares some typical challenges that you will run into when you are working on creating a product and how to overcome the same.

More information:

You can connect with her on instagram here.

You can connect with her on LinkedIn here.

You can find more information about all the other products that she has created here.


PBTO5: Innovation, Design Thinking and Solving Complex Problems

Lakshman Pachineela Seshadri
Lakshman Pachineela Seshadri

In this episode, we host Lakshman, who heads the innovation practice for the consulting division of SAP, based in India and also a visiting faculty at the Hasso Plattner Institute, Potsdam, Germany. 

In this conversation, we talk about the importance of defining the right problem to solve, as the first step in any innovation practice.

Lucky also shares his views on how to build a practice capable of being able to innovate on a consistent basis.

We also talk about Design Thinking, its history, the key components of this philosophy and how we can use this to solve complex problems.

He also shares information about the lens from which one could look at ideas to develop further in the innovation cycle.

We also discuss the importance of leadership in the success of innovation practice and some attributes of good leaders.

If you are in the process of solving a complex problem or part of an innovation project, I would like to invite you to join the conversation to gain a different perspective.

Some more resources for Design Thinking:

You can connect with Lucky by email or connect with him on LinkedIn.