We're kicking the series off with Manoj Kothari, founder and managing director of Onio Design, one of the leading design and innovation consultancies in India. A graduate of IIT Bombay and the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, Manoj orchestrates trend research, strategic consulting, and design management practice at Onio. Manoj is a frequent speaker at various forums on innovation, trends, and design.
How do you define "innovation"?
It is as basic as food, clothing, and shelter in the broadest sense.
What was your most successful innovation, and how did you find it?
For a person whose profession is innovation, it is hard to point out one idea that "would change life." Every idea has its own destiny.
What is the best idea you've ever had and haven't yet executed?
To make a film on Siddhartha -- by Herman Hesse.
Which design "failure" did you learn the most from, and why?
Simple lessons on prototyping: We took some calculations for granted and prepared the whole pilot lot of metal stands to hold 20 liter water bottles. In front of the client the 100 stands gave way...
What lessons can you pass on to others from how your organization has changed to make itself more innovation-driven?
1. Never begin before sensing enough.
2. Do not judge an idea instantly. Hold it in your mind for some time.
3. Do not work only on one idea. Create a 'family' and the 'succession plan' before launching the work.
4. Never undermine the insights that may come through prototyping.
5. Detailing at the early stages is key to smooth implementation.
6. Unless the top team agrees, innovation is a headless chicken.
In your opinion, what are the biggest barriers and challenges that stand in the way of organizations becoming more innovative?
Unlimited vision is only with limited people.
Beyond your organization, who do you admire for risk-taking innovation, and what do you think makes them successful?
Vision, driven by guts and gut-feel. There are several small and big time people around.
What innovation are you still waiting for?
I wish cars could fly and reduce the traffic on the ground (especially in the context of India).