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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-the-
box 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…

D
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 age-
old 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.

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but also goes a step further by performing
About No Formulae… better than required.
It is a design firm, which practices design
innovation, brings in creativity and innovation Five factors to make
India an innovation hub
in business domains, which translate into A synergy between the following five factors
better customer experience, lower costs and would lead to the creation of an environment
higher revenues. The company specialises in using where innovation would flourish. Firstly,
design and design thinking to conjure up tailor-made creative and one should be able to view things from a
innovative strategies & solutions for businesses. No Formulae has micro as well as macro level. People should
successfully worked with major players in the travel, real estate, food, be able to quickly identify problems and
lifestyle & well-being industry along with creating award-winning design perceive them as opportunities. Secondly,
solutions like the Acceptor, a masquerade for the existing disposable technology should be utilised to one’s
benefit. It is easier to connect to and learn
syringe, which will minimise the trauma attached with being injected.
about ideas and solutions that one thinks of.
Thirdly, the government policies and facilities
your success strategies creating an innovative should promote innovators and ensure that
Let’s discuss a recent scenario. We were design they easily and quickly bring their innovation
approached to design unique packaging for An inherent quality of design is innovation. to the market. Fourthly, one can look for
a range of organic cosmetic products. After Thus, every good design is innovative in cues to innovative ideas in India’s rich
studying the complete lifecycle of the some way or the other. Without this, a new cultural heritage. Finally, multitasking and the
product packaging and consumers, we design would be a replica of what already ability to work & connect to the various
chanced upon the idea of using paper pulp exists. The true concept of design is creating domains, which are involved from the
for its environment friendliness and other something new and holds relevance for the concept to the market stage, are integral for
technical properties. To convert this idea intended purpose. Thus, the mantra for the success of an innovation.
into reality, we worked more on the design design, which by default would be
from the decided material, viz, paper pulp, innovative, is that it must start with a clear Strategies to foster
which could be easily manufactured and outline of the problem for which a solution, innovation and
transported. Using paper pulp not only i.e. design, is being proposed. This involves entrepreneurial spirit
offers economic viability, it also has an understanding the users, their needs & Entrepreneurs with an innovative approach
inviting yet distinct appeal to it. habits, the system and scenario surrounding have had the strongest impact on society –
the user & the proposed solution viz, be it the people who brought the
Attaining innovation-led market, competition, channel, etc. Design, automobiles to the market, or those who
growth for SMEs being a reiterative process, churns out have made the idea of selling potable water
Innovation does not always arrive with various possibilities that in bottles a reality. An innovative approach
every radically new product or approach. qualify as a solution. Of complemented by an entrepreneurial spirit
There are numerous possibilities wherein these, the one which is probably the best bet to ensure the
SMEs can get innovative in their current set can be called the success of a business.
up. Areas like processes, set ups, strategy, final design is that Being innovative is not an outcome but
communication, people, etc. can be which not only an approach. Hence, one should think
explored for incremental or radical solves every radically and come up with out-of-the-box
innovations. requirement in hand solutions. The first solution is not the best

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solution and so, one should not be continuous process. To make innovation favour of the planet. This would encourage
discouraged by initial failures. It is important happen, businesses must be quick to more sustainable products and practices in
to remember that entrepreneurship is an understand market changes and spot any future.
attitude, which involves the integral fibre of opportunities that may come their way.
risk taking. With these two attributes, a They should be able to quickly adapt to the Design philosophy to
person will not hesitate to traverse the road changing situations and create innovations success
less travelled. in the form of products, services, processes, No Formulae is a multi-disciplinary design
strategies, and so on and so forth to meet firm, which makes innovation for businesses
developing a perfect their customers’ needs. possible by using the tools of design and
ecosystem for product & design thinking. We share the belief that
process innovation Emerging design trends design holds the answers to most of the
Communication is important for innovation. The emerging trend that would be problems and is often the way forward – be
The collaborative effort of listening, more visible in the coming years would be it for things which you can hold and feel or
discussing, outlining problems and solutions the designer, the manufacturer and the things like strategy and systems whose
with people on the shop floor along with user all merging into a single entity. For effects you perceive. It always begins with
the staff will foster a healthy environment example, one would be able to create a in-depth research into the context and the
where an innovative spirit would flourish. customised piece of furniture using simple subject. By understanding the problem well,
Innovation is not the domain of a particular tools and technology. Technology would we are able to create a perfect solution.
individual in an organisation. It is an attitude, make mass customisation possible for Design gives us the invaluable quality of
which must be adopted by everyone. To everyone. Gone are the days where one empathising with the users. Understanding
build this attitude, a visionary leader who size fitted all. the user makes it possible for us to design a
encourages transparency and simple systems Other trends that are on the rise are of market-approved offering.
is required; an attitude of encouraging the making products more intuitive, easy to We have a multi-disciplinary team, which
trial of new ideas and celebrating & learning use, with only a small learning curve. offers us a strong understanding of design
from failures is also important. Products are becoming more functional, and creative ability. It makes us understand
cost-effective and pleasing to the senses. the nuances of business like market, finance,
Critical elements to People are beginning to understand the manufacturing, human resource, etc. Our
sustain innovation lifecycle and eco-footprints of various solutions are always designed keeping all of
Innovation is not a one-time event, but a products and would make their choices in these factors in mind.

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