Tripping on Innovation

Out with the old and in with the new – is that what this whole business of ‘innovation’ is all about? Or is it about getting ‘outside of the box’?

The Innovation First Communication Conclave made me think – what does Innovation mean, to think outside of the box? It was communication first and then the innovations that snowballed around it. Setting the tone of the event gone by, was Atul Ahluwalia, Founding Partner, First Partners who also were co-partners, as he said, “At First Partners innovation-in-communication is very close to our heart. We firmly believe that today innovation in its various facets is best placed to drive outcomes in a complex business environment”. Adding the motive behind the event, he explained, “We therefore, co-created Innovation First Communication Conclave as a forum which brings the best minds together to deliberate on the subject and evolve actionable steps for fostering a culture of innovation in our business.”

With innovation in communication taking front-stage, hundreds of questions popped up. What are the best ways to improve creativity? First, let me talk a little about this ‘streak’ of imagination. Or is it that streak going adrift, off the beaten track? Many among us have heard the phrase being flung at us at some time or the other – “Think out of the box!” But really, how many of us understand the underlying meaning of this phrase? Thinking out-of-the-box means thinking differently. When innovators talk about thinking outside-the-box, they mean coming up with creative ways to solve problems – new ways to look at things. How do they do it? How can you do it too?

We live in disrupted times, and we are sometimes confused about what is the difference between innovation and disruption. Disruption has become something of a talking point in business-related conversations, but do businesses understand the difference between disruption and innovation? Even since the entrance of brands like Uber, Oyo, Airbnb and Snapchat (brands that turned their industries topsy-turvy!) – disruption has become something of a buzzword.

Yes, ‘disruption’ has become the flavor of the times we live in today, but does it happen that we think ‘innovation’ first?

It’s an attitude to improve or raise the bar. “We don’t think innovation first, but we are driven by thinking of how we can deliver our message in a better way,” said Aman Dhall, Head of Corporate Communications at And if the discussions made me wonder how much of innovation is alive in PR, Aman was firm in stating, “In a way, innovating thinking is ingrained in our profession”. 

Whatever it is, It’s definitely about moving out of your comfort zone. And, it is only when there is creative dissatisfaction, that the mind can think anew. Thinking outside the box is never easy. And, to leave your comfort zone and explore beyond borders, requires a lot of courage!

Some takeaways

Personally for me, there were some defining moments during the sessions that nudged the shape of innovation, which were:

  • It creates a spark: Innovation creates a spark and communication creates the culture which is needed to sense what relationships are needed to get the spark going.
  • The LOVE Model: Innovation is doing something new that is relevant to the audience. How does communication hold and sustain the culture of innovation? The LOVE model – Listening, Organising, Valuating and Echoing.
  • It’s shareable: It’s all about bringing about shareability and virality
  • It’s ‘inside-the-box’: It’s about “thinking inside-the-box, and not outside-the-box.
  • Three-point formula: Many a time, innovation equates creativity. For innovation to happen there must be three conditions – it has to solve the problem, it has to be disruptive and it has to be copied.

At the end of the day, perhaps the reality check came in the statement made by a panelist: “Unfortunately, we are challenged as communicators and we are underprepared”. But, hey wait a minute, is that true?

Anyone wanting to give a different take on this may write to: shree at reputationtoday dot in.

Shree Lahiri on EmailShree Lahiri on LinkedinShree Lahiri on Twitter
Shree Lahiri
Shree is the Senior Editor at Reputation Today and hopes to move from one focus area to another in the editions that will be released this year. Having worked in Corporate Communications teams, she has experience of advertising, public relations, investor and employee communications, after which she moved to the other side – journalism. She enjoys writing and believes the power of the pen is indeed mighty. Covering the entertainment beat and the media business, she has been involved in a wide range of activities that have thrown open storytelling opportunities.

She can be reached at: @shree_la on twitter

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