On March 22nd, 2013, I was at Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS) to give a talk related to “design for instincts” for the insurance vertical’s innovations week. I thank my friend Venky Vijayaraghavan and his colleague Karthik Sivasubramanian for inviting me. There were two other speakers who did a fabulous job and in some ways further instigated my thinking on “design for instincts.”
EswaranNatarajan, the head of Operations & Technology at ICICI Lombard, gave a very engaging talk and he described some of the problems that his company faced and how they used their engineering prowess to overcome the problem. He gave examples of how when they used the mobile phones, they discovered that they couldn’t take more than 20 pictures and what they did to overcome the problem. The process described seemed to indicate that ICICI does the root cause analysis really really well and then uses the analysis to find a solution.
Sukumar Rajagopal, CIO of CTS, also gave a very interesting talk. His presentation seemed to synthesize management philosophies for innovation. He specifically mentioned how in 1983, BMW and Benz were dominating the market with a good fuel performance, little noise within the car, car being light, etc. He contrasted with how Toyota innovated to overcome the problems, which initially seemed implausible.
I felt that both these speakers spoke about engineering innovations. I am an engineer by heart (hold bachelors and masters degrees) and many in the audience were too. However, their innovations need not be just restricted to engineering ones. With the power of information technology growing, it is the right time for us to push the envelope in non-engineering ways particularly those related to human behavior.
In engineering innovations, the main process is to identify the root cause of the problem and create solutions to overcome it. However, in non-engineering innovations involving shaping human behavior, it is important to understand how we behave instinctively and develop designs based on them, a.ka. “design for instincts.” On this regard, I wish to highlight a student project initiative that CTS is pursuing with ISB via my course. One objective is for the students to carry forward the “design for instincts” thought-process that they have learned in my class and propose a learning platform for CTS. I was happy that the EswaranNatarajan recognized our effort positively during his presentation.
Update on April 4, 2013: corrected Eswaran-natarajan as the ICICI person giving the presentation.