Guest Blog Post: Innovation is about Connecting – and you can help with that!
Here is a guest blog by Nikhil Marathe, who is a Network Planning Engineer based in our AT&T Chicago office and currently runs the OASIS organization. Nikhil and I connected earlier this year as we were planning for our Chicago OpenGov hackathon and we have had some great discussions around a series of hackathons focused on women in technology. If you are interested in helping out with the women in tech hackathon series, please email either Nikhil (email@example.com) or me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can set up some time to chat!
I was at a conference on Innovation recently when I heard a comment that seemed to resonate strongly with us in AT&T. The quip was supposedly from Steve Jobs who said Innovation is about ‘Connecting things in ways they have never been connected before.’ By itself, that may not sound new, but look at it closely and you see that it changes the perception of innovation to something people like you and me can do – and not just something for rocket scientists. Innovation should not be intimidating, but should be a result of finding the right things to connect. Isn’t that interesting? I started thinking of how this idea can be of use to AT&T. So I gave it a shot – I have listed, broadly, four ways in which AT&T employees can be innovative – that is, explore different things to connect:
1. Connect people – certainly something we already do. But are there better ways of connecting them? Different ways?
2. Connect products that were not connected before – think wheels and luggage – why didn’t anyone think of it before?
3. Connect products with an ecosystem – think new additions to Digital Life and the connected car platforms. The platforms are already built – do you have an idea that can add to it?
4. Connect existing innovations with new uses – very important but often undervalued connection. One flavor of that is critical for a large company like AT&T where smart people are creating local solutions for local issues. Suppose Network Planning Organization reduces their plug-in equipment repair time by 30% wouldn’t it be great if our Fleet maintenance group can learn something from it? Let’s connect them!
These are certainly broad categories and there may be more. But if “Innovating is connecting,” does this mean there is no innovation in labs? Of course there is – after all it is the labs where the plastic was invented which made it easy to make plastic wheels for luggage. But the operations personnel also had a hand in innovating their processes so that the price point for installing a plastic wheel came down to a level where luggage could be fitted with it. That is innovation after all.
Let us leave with some interesting videos identified by Alex Donn, who runs Hackathons for AT&T:
Where do Ideas come from: http://www.ted.com/playlists/20/where_do_ideas_come_from.html
Creativity under pressure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hWRva_sPeE
Innovation is about Connecting – and you can help with that!
Please feel free to send us an email at OASIS-Innovation and share your thoughts.