Wednesday, August 25, 2010

‘Open Collaborative Innovation’ by Dipankar Ghosh, Caterpillar Inc

Corporate Wisdom Team DoMS IIT Madras hosted the first session for the academic year by Mr. Dipankar Ghosh, Operations Director-Engineering Division, Caterpillar Inc. The session was on ‘Open Collaborative Innovation’.
The concepts of collaboration and innovation are age-old and well known. But the phrase ‘open collaborative innovation’ was the theme of the session.

Very initially, innovation was attributed to individuals. But that notion was corrected over time. Innovation was the result of a collaborative effort on various ideas by various individuals. However, the collaboration was often done by people belonging to the same organization. This, as Mr. Ghosh said, was the ‘closed collaborative innovation’ system. At first, this model was successful and this concept fuelled ‘Research and Development’ departments world over. But people change, trends change and so do the success streaks of those who are loathe to sharing knowledge. The wheel of fortune had turned and the new formula for success was the ‘open collaborative innovation’ system, where anybody and everybody could contribute to the innovation taking place anywhere on the face of the earth. Organizations that had adopted the ‘open collaborative innovation’ model had superseded their counterparts adopting the older and vastly more myopic ‘closed collaborative innovation’ model. Products and services such as Lego Mindstorm, Apple iPod and Bharti Airtel were indulging in the benefits of the open collaborative model. More and more organizations were changing with time and adopting the open model. But like all other things in the world, this model too had its flaws. Mr. Ghosh was wise to warn us at this point (for most MBAs have a tendency to gravitate towards ostensible win-win situations and we at DoMS, per se, are no exceptions).

Just as the presentation ended, a storm of questions was hurled at Mr. Ghosh. But Mr. Ghosh, like that master that he was, answered every query and the storm had died down eventually.
Mr Ghosh then went on to explain the importance of team work. A team of a few people is largely the same as a team consisting of the entire world. The difference lies in the amount of knowledge the two possess. Even though Mr. Ghosh had come to tell us of innovation methods adopted by organizations he ultimately taught us a great deal more.
If the first session of corporate wisdom can invoke such realizations I imagine that with a couple sessions we would have insights far beyond the scope of our experience.

Lakshmi Shrikanth,
MBA Batch of 2010-12

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