Last night, I was privileged to attend another performance by Raghu Dixit at B-Flat. This would be the fifth time I am watching Raghu Dixit live – first was at Opus, second at a Nokia concert, third at foss.in, fourth at a TiE mixer, and fifth at B-flat yesterday.

More than a year ago, I watched Raghu Dixit live for the first time at Opus, and I am still enthralled by his music, and the sound is still fresh.

I had a clever little idea yesterday morning. I remembered I had a photo of myself with Raghu when he was meeting folks who love his music at a CCD to give away free passes to the Nokia concert where he was performing. I got a large print of that photo so that I could get his autograph on it – a simple autograph doesn’t look attractive enough to go on the wall, but photo of me + my favorite artist + his autograph – that will definitely go on my (physical) wall! :)

Raghu Dixit Autograph in Kannada

Due to the odd size of the photograph, I ended up getting two prints, which led to me requesting Raghu to sign one in English and one in Kannada, thankfully he smiled and obliged a fan’s request!

Raghu Dixit Autograph in English

There are a few reasons why I am a fan of Raghu Dixit and The Raghu Dixit Project:

  • His powerful voice. You got to see him perform to experience it. I had pulled along a friend yesterday, by the end of the show, a new fan was born.
  • His amazing ability to bring back old poetry by the likes of Shishunaala Sharifa and Dr Da Ra Bendre, into new life with the use of drums, guitars, violin, and of course, his voice.
  • His great sense of humor. He brings the audience to ease and gets them to participate and experience the music. He was in full flow as usual yesterday night.
  • The talented artistes that comprise The Raghu Dixit Project – Vijay Joseph (guitars), Karthik Iyer (violin), Gaurav Vaz (bass guitar) and Willy? (I could not catch this name yesterday) (drums) have such amazing stage presence that I’ve never seen a crowd not go wild when they do their solo bits.
  • Their universal appeal – Raghu was saying yesterday that they’ve just finished touring UK, Japan, etc. and they’ll be touring Abu Dhabi, Kenya, etc. in the rest of the year!
  • ´╗┐The greatest hack by Raghu Dixit is that he made the Kannada language cool for this generation.

If you haven’t heard them already, I recommend that you hear their music right away. My most favorite songs by Raghu Dixit are “En Ide” and “Ee Tanavu Ninnade” from Psycho soundtrack, the title track and “Yello Jhinugiruva” from Just Math Mathalli soundtrack, and almost all the songs of their first album. I wish Raghu would make it easy to buy these CDs on his website. On that note, I can’t wait for their second album and “Superman” soundtrack to come out.

If I go to watch them perform for the sixth time, I think they might get fed up of me, that’s when I’ll sing “Ninna poojege bande…” ;-)

81 people have asked me about “Innovation – ways to make people innovate.”

That’s a hard question. Especially because I’m always wary of using such an ambiguous term. And more so, when there are far more qualified people to answer out there.

Since I have been asked the question, I am jotting down my thoughts on the subject here (the usual disclaimers apply):

I think the question really is about how impactful can a person be, rather than this nebulous word called “innovative.” In fact, I hate the word “innovation”, because the focus should be about problem solving.

Innovation (regardless of its definition) is almost always the by-product of a successfully executed product. You don’t start by wanting to be innovative. You start by looking at interesting hard problems. You only end up being innovative. So, Solve the Problem first.

For example, I always find it amusing to see the feedback on isbn.net.in – people have said “It’s awesome! It’s wonderful!” I replied “It’s just a bunch of regexes!” … But it just goes to show that what matters is how much the user values it, not how it is implemented.

Now, back to topic: If you want to be able to attack interesting hard problems, then my honest opinion is that you need to keep this equation in mind:

Creativity x Organization = Impact

Scott Belsky at the 99% Conference

Regarding Creativity / Ideas:

  1. “If you think you don’t have any good ideas, that’s because you don’t really have bad ideas. You get one good idea only after you get a hundred bad ideas.” — paraphrasing Seth Godin in his latest book Linchpin.
  2. Frequent Inspiration helps. A lot. Keep reading Springwise, Yanko Design, Quirky everyday and you’ll be inspired to “innovate” as well.
  3. Observe. “If you’re looking for problems to solve, you’re better off to be around real people whose problems can be solved via your trade (such as software).” — RWW article
  4. Follow the Trends, such as Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Consumer Mobile Applications for 2012 and 10 Tech Trends for 2010 — Time , and more importantly the kinds of technology and products that are being created, follow those “cutting edge” technologies that we love to adore and wonder “Wow, how did they come up with this stuff?

But you have to be careful when ideating, because it is very easy to get into “analysis paralysis”:

Another important thing is to not get so carried away by the shiny new things that you forget the basics:

Regarding Organization / Discipline

  1. There is this guy in Adobe Bangalore office who is a “patent machine.” He files for a patent every two weeks. No kidding. And these weren’t only trivial ones either.
    What was his trick? He spent a dedicated half hour every single day on thinking up new ideas or solving problems. It’s as simple as that. This is called the Seinfeld “Unbroken Chain” philosophy.
  2. Body and Mind need a predictable routine and that’s when it’s optimal. And once it has a routine, it is hard for the body and mind to accept any other way.
    That’s why smokers find it so hard to get out of their addiction, because body and mind is used to it and is craving for it. Same goes for coffee, same goes for writing code, same goes for creating new ideas. It is so ironic that discipline breeds creativity. It’s a truth that we don’t want to accept, because it makes us sound less “human”.
  3. Don’t judge an idea to be good or bad until you have tried to manually solve it yourself once or prototyped it. After your first attempt at solving the problem, if you still feel good about it and feel that some pain point has been relieved, then it is a good idea.
    Take Jack Dorsey’s simple approach to creating as an example: draw out the idea, gauge the right timing, and iterate like mad.

To summarize:

  1. Focus on the problem, not the solution. As Dave McClure says: “problem, not solution. customer, not technology. UX, not code. distribution, not PR. acq cost, not revenue projections.”
  2. As Seth Godin would say, “Artists who ship” have the most impact. Read Linchpin to internalize it.
  3. What is your impact? Can you qualify it? Can you quantify it? Measure it every month – Within 6 months, you will know whether you are “innovative.”

Update #1: Related Reading, as pointed out by Srikanth in the comments: The Discipline of Innovation by Peter Drucker. Looks like I keep reinventing what Drucker has already said.

Update #2: See 10 Laws of Productivity by Behance team.