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Submitted by Joann Agnitti on Mon, 2009-08-24 09:38

You want an example in innovation? Look no further than the Tata Group of India. Innovation has become a part of the culture; it is celebrated and rewarded. One of the ways that the company has fostered innovation is by encouraging anyone with an idea to tell the Tata Group Innovation Forum (TGIF).

"If I come up with an innovation, whether it's an incremental or a disruptive idea, I need to know whom to go to with it, and there needs to be an organizational process for moving it forward,” said the chief technology officer, Ananth Krishnan.

I really admire the fact that all ideas, even those seemingly insignificant or disruptive, are warmly welcomed. Innovation is a category upon which employees are evaluated. They even have an incentive-- The Young Innovator Award. Winning this results in an increase in salary and a possible promotion. Additionally, there is an annual innovation competition (called “Innovista”) that is open to all of the subsidiaries of the Tata Group. The goal of this competition is not just to generate new ideas, but to democratize innovation.

Furthermore, much like Google's “Innovation time off,” five hours out of an employee's 45-hour workweek can be devoted to personal projects. What's MORE… the Tata Group created “IdeaMax,” which is a social network for employees that allows them to submit ideas and vote on the ideas of others. Since launching last year, 12,000 ideas have been submitted and several hundred of those have been turned into projects.

I love the concept of IdeaMax. I wish I could see what it looked like but, not surprisingly, it is closely guarded and hidden from the public. Ideas have been proposed on our blog before, but there's something to that rapid fire ideation documentation and voting system that is really appealing. How many times have you thrown out an idea because it wasn't formulated enough, lacked practicality, or was just… missing something? Finding wisdom through crowds can prove to be astronomically worthwhile. We can call it… Eureka! Or geniusalert. Or PatentsPending. Or… something..

I digressed. I'm sorry. Bottom line: In a world of mediocre business models and arbitrary organizational charts, this company makes sense.

For more on the Tata Group's culture of innovation, check out the article from Business Week.

Ankit Ranka Says:
Tue, 2009-08-25 23:49

This is great. Tata group has been phenomenal in taking initiatives like this. Many of my friends are there in TATA group companies like TCS and TATA Communications. And right now I am in India so I can ask them about how IdeaMax works and how effective it is at grass root level or even see them using it. I will update you as soon as I will find more details about IdeaMax and Innovista.

Joann Agnitti Says:
Wed, 2009-08-26 08:20

That would be awesome to get an insider's perspective! I mean, on the outside it sounds amazing but I wonder if it's the same for the employees.

I hope you are enjoying your time at home!