Developing Talent Pool: Every part of the fish has to be alive for the fish to be alive.

STIMS Institute and MICROMATIC Grinding Technology Ltd (MGT) have been collaborating for more than eight years on an initiative to develop Unique New Solutions (UNS). These are solutions for new machine tools and their auxiliaries for novel grinding processes for customers. The goal is to focus on unique outcomes
not available in India and, in some cases, first of its kind in the world. The focus is always on the end to end innovation (i.e.) from concept to commercially realized or implemented solutions.

This initiative also involves an innovative program designed to train and foster a few highly competent graduates into future leaders in manufacturing technology through System Thinking and Transformational Skills.

This team works in close collaboration with design, manufacturing and application departments at MGT, with end customers as well as research teams at the innovative University / Industry collaborative R&D center: Advanced Manufacturing Technology Development Center (AMTDC) at IIT Madras, India. Dr. Subramanian, President, STIMS Institute serves as the adviser to AMTDC.

Through the years, these teams at MGT and AMTDC have had several successes many of which are first of its kind for ‘Make in India’. Some of them are unique or novel in the world. The lessons learned from these collaborations are summarized below:

Recruitment and development of the members for this initiative is rather unique. Individuals, mostly recent graduates, are recruited and assigned to assume a range of responsibilities in a short period of time. The assignments include:
• Market assessment in close collaboration with Sales and Application Engineering to establish the ‘need’ or the customer’s interest and the reason behind;
• Concept development for new solutions as a system, pricing and commercial contract execution;
• Research, Design and analysis of critical sub-assemblies and components;
• Design validation through theoretical calculations using modern tools and methods of FEA/FEM/ Mechatronics as well as advanced software solutions;
• Development of the solution through Concept Validation (establish the ‘science’), Prototype Demonstration (refine the ‘Engineering’), develop the Complete Solution (driven by “Strategy”) and implement at the customer facility;
Complete ownership in the development of unique products (machines, software, process solutions) from Concept to Commercially Viable Solutions.
Thus, in a short period of a few years, the fresh graduate can grow into a thorough technology professional (with integrated skills across Science, Engineering and Management) in the manufacturing sector. All this shift requires constant training and mentoring on System Thinking and Transformational Skills. This experiment in human resource innovation has been very interesting to say the least! It requires
continuous engagement by the senior management as well as rigorous review and on-line mentoring. Location or time zones are not the barriers for such human resource innovation!

Developing a new solution requires an integration of knowledge across various disciplines. No one person can come with the knowledge from diverse fields such as Manufacturing Processes, Mechanical Engineering, Design, Materials, Electrical Engineering, Instrumentation, Testing, FEA, Mechatronics, Advanced Software
and CNC programming skills. Hence, recruiting the right talent with the required knowledge is a challenge and a starting point.

While graduates from well-known institutions have an edge in the beginning, this advantage is sustained more by those with a passion for continuous learning. After a few years of our experiment we find that true talent resides in those who excel at
three core capabilities: Knowledge, Experience and People skills.

Core Capabilities for Talent Development

Experience is not to be judged by the years of work in a given job or assignment. Instead it’s gained very quickly by those who are risk takers, willing to experiment with new ideas. Real life validation of their knowledge through working models, prototypes or sales contract builds self-confidence and a true sense of self-worth in young professionals, which is priceless. But this also requires a set of personal skills such as involvement, risk taking, collaboration and a result-driven attitude.

Core Capabilities of Professionals 
Tools or Enablers
    KnowledgeDeep and extensive learning; Well informed; Comprehension of various aspects of the subjectFormal Education, Reading, Learning from peers, Data driven, searching on-line data base, Observations
    Experience  Skill derived from actual participation or direct involvement; Accumulated wisdom from real life.Hands-on Activities, Involvement, Experiments, Risk-taking
    People Skills  Ability to seek out others and receive their support, help, and cooperation; Willingness to reciprocate, to achieve mutual benefitsHonesty, Integrity, Communication Skills, Collaboration, Team Spirit, Results driven, Emotional Intelligence.
Core Capabilities of professionals

People skills are those beyond the well-known attributes for inter-personal interactions to get along well with others. In some regards, the people skills we find valuable are grounded in factors such as honesty, integrity and emotional intelligence. These are the skills that not only impel one to personal success, but also helps others and the team to the same outcome.


End to End Innovation: Fish is not alive unless every part of the fish is alive!

In most companies, R&D and commercial efforts are run as two parallel silos. One is an internal driven approach where ideas are developed and pushed outside. In other cases it is the sales driven identification of customer needs being pushed into the company for further internal development. Most of the time the internal identified solutions are partial representation of the “system” largely driven by “science” based ideas and their “engineering” refinement. The externally identified marketing driven needs are also partial in that “sales potential” is translated into “engineering” parameters which may or may not be compatible with the internal core capabilities. Hence these partial descriptions of the solution are often incompatible. Also the science and engineering minded professionals show little interest in engaging with the end customers and their needs. Sales and marketing professionals also show little or interest in the graphs, charts and simulations proficient to the technical “experts” inside the company. Our experiment has been to find a seamless blend between the two. Typically, such seamless connection happens in small startup companies. But our goal through UNS and AMTDC is to bring about entrepreneurial teams, talent and outcome while leveraging the resources and facilities of a well-established enterprise and institutions. The talent development for this effort requires education and commitment from everyone, especially the young talented professionals who learn and believe that ‘Every part of the fish has to be alive for the fish to be alive!’.

End to End Innovation – Challenges!

Recently it was brought to our attention that a veteran in the work force – a technical professional – had five of his patent applications approved by the US patent department in the past eighteen months! To make it more interesting, these patents covered four different areas of focus for the employer. All these patents have been issued after this employee chose to retire, couple of years ago.. What was interesting was that the company did not make any effort to retain the services of the employee to gain commercial benefits from these patents. It is not clear if everyone in the company hierarchy were even aware of all these patents being processed through the work of this single employee. It is obvious that there was no well-established link between the output of this highly talented employee and the perceived value of the outputs!

How is the above scenario possible in a day and age, where everyone at every level are clamoring for innovation? Aren’t patents a well-established metric for the level of innovation? Companies have programs to measure, monitor and promote the number of invention disclosures filed within a company. They in turn lead to patents. Invention disclosure is a reflection of the creativity of the work force. Typically every ten invention disclosures lead to one patent. On this basis alone the five patents are worth fifty invention disclosures! Perhaps it is time for the R&D departments and the company management to start reshaping their metrics for measures of innovation?

In our recent book we refer to the concept of “End to End innovation”. Here are a few passages from our book:

Innovation starts with an “idea” to address a need. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” as the saying goes. The seed for generating such an idea is “creativity.” Once an idea is generated, it will require validation. Then it will require demonstration of its “use” to address the need. Even after the use is demonstrated, the utility has to be of some consequence (to those with the need). Thus, innovation may be thought of as a three-layered process consisting of “idea,” “use,” and “impact.” Now we come upon a very critical question: Can we innovate in any one of these three layers or do we need to innovate across all three? Much to our surprise, readers may find that most technical professionals rarely address this simple question directly. As an example, an R&D team may feel that coming up with ideas and documenting them as “invention disclosures” might be “adequate.” “Think tanks” or “consulting” projects do exactly that: document and catalog a set of new ideas. Most R&D teams will also carry the idea through experimentation, simulation, and validation, and then demonstrate its effectiveness. Where possible the idea may be pushed as far as patents and/or to the development stage. Later, they are released to the development section for a new-product launch. Finally, marketing and sales departments may also develop new ideas to gain the most revenue, impact, or value out of the new products launched. Among all these layers, the role of the technical professional may be defined in a limited context and his/her role in innovation will be perceived in that limited context. Rare indeed are the cases of technical professionals who stay with the idea through all its stages of innovation: discovery, development, validation, commercial development, as well as contribution to technical marketing efforts. Engagement in all these stages is needed to ensure that the new product is not only production-viable but also a commercial success. Thus, we can define End-to-End Innovation as follows: E-to-E Innovation = Idea X Use X Impact

  • Expanding the role of innovation from discovery to development to launch to use with identifiable impact.

Our book is written for technical professionals to take charge of their jobs, career and professional success. But success in innovation is not a one sided street. It also requires employers to take full advantage of the creative skills of their work force and foster a climate necessary for end-to-end innovation. To this end, we offer a scale of 1 to 125 for end to end innovation as opposed to a scale of 1 to 5 , for segmented innovation in each of the three phases. At a time, when there is preponderant emphasis on Digital Technology enabled capabilities, there are serious impediments for end to end innovation in physical technology enabled products and services, even though ultimately the later are the true sources of revenue. The positive note on this matter is a letter offering congratulations received by the employee after each patent was issued! But the letter was not from the employer. Instead it was a letter from a company offering to sell plaque and other items to recognize the patent!! With little research one could see that their automated CRM tool is linked to the US patent department data base. Within a day after the patent is issued the automated congratulatory letter with a sales offer is mailed out. There is a need for the employer and the employee to move with such speed in their end to end innovation efforts. Few can operate at that speed, but those few will survive and succeed in the current Binary Economy.

If you need support for fast response end to end innovation CONTACT US.