Exclusive pre-release extract from R Sridhar’s Unlock The Real Power Of Ideation

25 May,2017


For a while now, former Ogilvy honcho R Sridhar has been a popular Business Innovation Coach. Conducting sessions with business leaders and corporates, he even came up with an app that could help generate ideas at all times.

Sridhar has spent a little over 25 years at Ogilvy (1975-2000) where he held various positions: Principal Consultant – Ogilvy Consulting, Director – Integrated Marketing Communication, Director – Head of Ogilvy Mumbai, President – O&M Direct, Chairman, Ogilvy & Mather Direct (Ogilvy One) and Vice President, Ogilvy & Mather, Bengaluru.

For the current generation of senior to junior professionals who may not be too familiar with his work, suffice to say that Shiv Shivakumar, Chairman and CEO, Pepsico Holdings looks up to him as an Ideas Guru.

We could have just carried Shivakumar’s foreword to the book as it very succinctly captures all about the book and the author.

But we’ll leave that to another.

Here’s an extract from the book, specially chosen for MxMIndia readers by the author.

Read on, and if you are in Mumbai today and can attend, do come for the release of the book at 6pm at Crossword Kemps Corner.



By R Sridhar


[“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” – Max de Pree ]


It happened in a split second. My wife and I were taken by surprise when the black BMW suddenly overtook us from the left and moved into the parking space I was about to get into. I slammed the brakes in time in a reflex action.

We sat there quite shaken and watched a well-dressed man and his wife get out of the BMW and walk past us to enter the banquet hall. They too were going to the wedding reception of my friend’s daughter.

When we approached the entrance to the hall, I noticed the man talking to my friend, the bride’s father. As we approached them, my friend came towards us with a big smile. He gave me a bear hug and offered a namaste to my wife. He then introduced the BMW man.

He was VJ, the MD of a fast growing Rs. 50 billion consumer products company. He told VJ, “You must talk to Sridhar. He is an Innovation Consultant, and makes a living conducting ideation workshops.”

Later, VJ, his wife, the two of us, and a few others were at the same table for dinner. VJ, sitting right across, started a conversation with me.

“So you make a living out of conducting ideation workshops. Quite frankly, I think ideation sessions are a waste of time,” he said.

Taken aback a bit, I managed to mutter, “Oh… keen to know why you think so.”

VJ: “My core team and I meet every year for our annual strategy meetings. We have been to Macau, Mauritius and Seychelles besides a couple of other places for these meetings. I conduct ideation sessions on new business growth. It has always been a disaster. They suggest mundane ideas and I have to step in to bail the session out with some of my own ideas. No more ideation sessions for us. We can save the money; feed the poor people instead or donate it to some worthy cause.”

He was direct. There was no mistaking the aggression in his tone.

I smiled and kept quiet, unwilling to get into an argument and spoil the evening. I turned my attention to the other people at the table.

I bumped into him later as we were leaving.

He accosted me with another barb.

VJ: “Looks like you had nothing to say in your defence.”

RS: “You just shared your point of view. I don’t have to agree with it.”

VJ: “If you don’t agree with my view, you must have the courage to state what your view is.”

RS: “You may not find that palatable.”

VJ: “Cut the courtesy and come to the point.” He egged me on to share what I thought.

RS: “Well, from what I heard, you seem to have no respect for your people or their intelligence. You seem to think that they should feel indebted to you for taking them to all the fancy places. I believe that you do not have the skills to conduct an ideation session. I think you conduct these sessions like your regular office meetings with the only exception being the venue. Finally, I think you manipulate the meeting to push your own ideas, without honestly giving an opportunity to your colleagues to contribute their thoughts and suggestions.

It is like someone blaming the piano, when he doesn’t know how to play it. If you have the same old people, discussing the same old issues the same old way, you will always get the same old results.

I am hardly surprised that your ideation sessions were a waste of time. You set yourself up for failure due to your pre-conceived notions.”

I realised that I had perhaps spoken too much, and so I excused myself and moved away. My wife and I met a few more friends and left soon thereafter.

“Why did you have to do that?” my wife asked as we were driving back home.

“Do what?”

“You talked down to the man. You were almost insulting.”

By this time I had calmed down.

“Maybe you are right. I should get his number and apologise to him.”

Two weeks later my friend called.

“What happened at the reception? I am curious.”

I recounted the whole conversation. “I was rather blunt about my views with your friend VJ. I am truly sorry about that. I did not mean to be rude.”

“No wonder he is eager to see you. He is keen to know more about your work and what you do.”

“Wasn’t he upset?” I enquired.

“He was, but your candour shocked him. You have given him a feeling that he was not doing things right. He is quite intrigued and wants to know how he can set things right.”

“Thanks. I will certainly meet him,” I assured my friend.

I called VJ and we set up an appointment a fortnight later.


The First Meeting

VJ was keen to know about what I do, my process, my clients, how I measured the impact of my work and whether I had tangible results to show. He also made a request before I could answer his queries.

VJ: “I am keen to know about your work and your insights through your own experience. Do not give me examples that I can find on the net. I have read a bit and know about what 3M, Apple, Google and some of the others do. Is that OK?”

RS: “Well, I will try. Sometimes I may stray away from our agreement into the forbidden territory, but you can raise a red flag and bring me back.”

“Another thing. I like asking questions because that is how I understand things better. Would that be okay?”

We had several conversations which extended over four to six weeks. In a way, I was grateful to him. His questions gave me an opportunity to revisit 15 years of my work as an Innovation Facilitator, Consultant and Coach.

At the end of our conversations he was talking about making the most out of his people’s experience and expertise. We designed a process together to help him do that.

What follows in this book captures what I shared with him. It covers many of the principles, templates and frameworks that I use. I also shared anecdotes, experiences (including some instances where I failed), and a long list of books I have found invaluable. Somewhere during the course of the conversation, he gave me the license to call him VJ.


Creative Block Busting – 7 Keys to Unlock the Real Power of Ideation

[“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confucius]

“Imagine a chest with valuable treasure inside. The beauty of the chest is that it has boundless wealth. Even if you take something from it, nothing reduces in it. It has unending wealth to offer.

You have seven keys to open the chest. If you use the seven keys intelligently, patiently and in the right sequence, you will get everything you want from the chest. If you use them randomly, you will only get access to a small portion, but that is not good enough. Opening the chest and getting what you want is simple if you know how to use the keys in the right sequence.


1. Key No. 1. The Master Key. Define what you want ideas for. This is the most critical key. If you use it, it will make using the other keys easy. Besides, you will get access to everything in the chest.

2. Key No. 2. The Brains Key . Choose the right people for the task. This key will help you get the best of what you are looking for. If you skip using this, you are unlikely to get to the most valuable part of the chest.

3. Key No. 3. The Design Key. It is a robust process for divergent and convergent thinking. Using this key requires patience. If you do it right, your diligence will pay rich dividends.

4. Key No. 4: The Wizard Key. Use a bouquet of tools and techniques. This is the divergent key and helps you explore anything and everything. People who use it well are the ones who reap the best benefits from the chest.

5. Key No. 5: The Smart Key. Use a smart selection process. This key helps you focus on what will be most useful or effective for you. If you don’t use this key, you will have a great time exploring the treasure, but will get nothing useful from it.

6. Key No. 6: The MOT (Moment of Truth) Key. Committing money, resources and time. This key shows you how to make the right choice for action. If you falter here, you lose everything you have got.

7. Key No. 7: The Action Key. Making things happen. If you used the first six keys, got some great treasure, but did not do anything, you lose everything you have got.


Unlock The Real Power Of Ideation

By R Sridhar

Republished with permission from the author

Published by Productivity & Quality Publishing Pvt Ltd

318 pages; Paperback

Price Rs 360 (Rs 285.95 on Kindle, Also on Amazon.in)


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