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Hardbound

Beyond Brainstorming
Paul Writer's Jessie Paul discovers ways to make those ideation sessions more effective in R Sridhar's book

Anyone who has been a part of the corporate world would have been a part of an ideation or a brainstorming session.  All too often these end up being sessions where the HIPPO (Highest Paid Person in the Room) calls the shots. Or it's an excuse for a jolly jaunt to an exotic location because it’s hard to think in the office. On the other hand, there are some sessions where you leave feeling enlightened, where a solution to the problem has been found. And it is practical and implementable and everyone involved is committed to this path.

In his book R Sridhar distills the learning — from his years in the corporate world and now as an ideation coach — to try and teach you how to get value from your ideation sessions. He follows a structured approach defining what is innovation and more importantly how do you create a climate where ideation is possible.

Sridhar breaks down the elements of success for these discussions and drills — how do you decide who should be in the room? The folks running these sessions often have a strong view on who are the smart, articulate people who can add value but this may leave a lot of potential contributors out. In the book he discusses the kind of people and the mix that is required to have a successful session.

He also gets into what is required from the key decision-maker — often the CEO. Too often the organisation is not ready to listen to the suggestions with a truly open mind. “We haven’t done it before.” “It is too expensive.” “It is too risky.” These are all common reasons to reject innovation. R Sridhar provides examples of solutions which are shot down prematurely. Just knowing that this is what we are doing may cure us from jumping to these conclusions.

The book focuses on actionable insights for readers providing checklists and frameworks which can become the basis of your own innovation journey. For example, the Seven Keys to Unlock the True Power of Ideation is a great checklist when putting together your own workshop.

Innovation is very often found on corporate websites and mission statements but not many organisations are actually good at it. This book tries to tell us why this happens. As such it would be a great book for anyone interested in driving innovation in their organisation. Or tapping into the power of ideation to solve problems. Techniques that help you uncover the real problem rather than the stated one are very useful at the framing stage. CEOs, heads of business units, functional heads — anyone grappling with a problem which can use the combined ideation power of multiple people should read this book. 

The book is written in a unique format. It is a first person slightly fictionalised account of his learning as a consultant and the narrative style is that of him having conversations with these imaginary clients. It makes the topic more readable and less like a business book, though I found the references to himself as “Sridhar” rather than “I” a bit hard to get used to.  

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