An enjoyable Friday evening!

I watched a video yesterday in my "Technological Innovation" class and I really enjoyed it! (It is a video which is probably shown in every management/business/technopreneurship class every semester) I'm here to share what I saw and learnt with you!
Well, the topic we discussed about this week was "Motivating Engineers and Scientists" And the video was a recording from a news program on abc channel - about a company called IDEO. This is basically an innovation company - the best known in the world and one of the hot spots of Silicon valley. They innovate just about anything! Starting from a range of toys, 'monster shoes', through toothbrushes to sophisticated medical equipment, they are involved in designing/re-designing of an entire range of products!
This program's was actually structured to give an insight into how things actually work in IDEO. So, a group was assembled and given the task of redesigning a shopping cart. The first thing that struck me was the informality! I did expect a little deviation from the standard top-down hierarchy, considering that people were here to innovate, but this struck me right on the face! The founder of the company working together with a new 22 year old employee - that's the limit!
This was a group of about 20 people and all from very very different backgrounds - As the introductions were made, I realized that it just about covered every single faculty in my university!! An engineer, computer specialist, statistical grad, biological sciences major, psychologist, history major and the list went on..!! The diversity, I realized during the course, only helps add more perspectives to come up with totally crazy ideas that lead to innovation.
Even in the midst of all the informality, there was structure and organization - They first elected a group leader - not the most 'senior' member or not even the 'one with lots of ideas' but one who was good with people and with groups! They then set about trying to identify problems one may face with the current shopping cart - problems like child care safety (where the statistics came in very handy to use the no. of hospitalized to carry this idea through in the new product), the psychology of people not wanting to wait in long check-out queues, the size and thus the utility of the shopping cart, etc . They actually researched this topic - by talking to customers, 'professional' shoppers, supermarket employees, actual engineers who build and repair the cart, to get a good idea of what exactly is involved!
Then came the brainstorming session - where each group member would come up with as many designs of the cart as he/she could, make a rough sketch of it and paste it on huge boards placed all around the spacious room. Once done, each would review the ideas of the others and if they felt the idea was worth their vote - they'd stick a post it with their name on it!!
And in this manner, they finally narrowed down the options stage by stage and came up with 4 separate designs - one with several baskets in the shopping cart - one with a scanner - one with a separate level for child seating and one which focused on the fashion/size aspect! They then set about building these 4 designs - Once ready, they went on to review each of these carts, scale them back a little to come up with the final design -
Well, this can't be described in words...So have a look yourself!
What I learnt at the end of the day was that, to motivate, you need to express confidence in your people. Don't regard them as inferior to you in any way - instead try to make it a 360 degree learning process, so that in the end, your goals are achieved! Give them their space and autonomy to do what they are best at! That's how a manager is defined in today's world - he/she leads - no more "command and control"!
Would'nt you like to work for IDEO someday?? :-D


prithz said...

Hey!!! Know wat, i have seen this video too!!! Once in my SPS seminar, the prof showed it to us!!! It was awesome... i loved the post-it votes and the final cart that comes out!!! Awesome... I hope, one day u get to work wid one team liek dat... Good luck girl!!! :)

Archun said...

:D thanks!! I hope so too!!