The Role of Reflection in Innovation


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Everyone is an Innovator

Everyone is an Innovator

One of the most common mis-conception about innovation is that not everyone can innovate and innovation doesn’t happen in regular day-to-day work.

Every time we do something that is not part of a regular process, either to expedite something or for any other reason, there lies an opportunity to innovate.

Lets take an example of the manufacturing industry.

If you are in a manufacturing industry, you would relate to the constant need to expedite orders. What you need to do is to step back and reflect upon what you did. You need to reflect on the following questions:

  • What steps in the regular process did I skip in order to expedite?
  • What would happen if we made the expedition process as our new standard process?
  • What other changes would that require us to do to ensure sanity in the plant?
  • Can these changes be address easily? Will these changes lead to faster flow of material inside the plant?
  • What impact would these changes have on the on-time delivery of products that are made-to-order?

If the plant manager can routinely ask these questions and honestly try to find answers for them with his/her team, there is enormous potential that they will continue to innovate their production processes.

If the team gets comfortable about this reflection, they can then take it one level further by reflecting on the following questions:

  • What would happen if we half the material release at the head of the production?
  • What would happen if they were asked to double their production without any additional investment? What would they do differently?
  • How can they run the plant with 60% of the cash that they need now?

This is not just true in a manufacturing set-up but in any other industry. Take a step back and reflect upon your steps whenever you deviate from the norm. Ask these questions and be honest about the answers. Dont be afraid of trying some of the ideas that come up.

This creates an environment where innovation will not only the responsibility of the R&D team or at the corporate level but each and every employee becomes a potential innovator.

So, my call for action to you today is the following:

Every time you deviate from the norm, reflect upon that action and explore if that could lead to a breakthrough in your work productivity

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mukesh Gupta
I currently work for SAP as Customer advocate. In this capacity, I am responsible to ensure that the voice of the customer is being heard and play the bridge between customers and SAP. Prior to joining SAP, I have worked with different organizations serving in different functions like customer service, logistics, production planning & sales, marketing and business development functions. I was also the founder-CEO of a start-up called "Innovative Enterprises". The venture was in the retail & distribution business. I blog at


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