I am still under the spell of Christopher’s Nolan’s Inception. A powerful dialogue by the protagonist COBB has smitten me. That is, “The seed of the idea we plant will grow in this man’s mind. It’ll change him. It might even come to define him.” 

Ideas define a man. Wow! Period!

History proves that all great nations, abundant wealth, outstanding technology and exceptional people had their origin in a simple small idea. However small the idea is, if we nurture it, it can grow like a banyan tree and drop roots, aerial and ground. Ideas have a domino effect. Excellent ideas grow like a wildfire. 

People and physical objects can perish, but not ideas, concepts, beliefs and fantasies! Unreal is more potent than the real, and ideas are powerful. Ideas can change the world. Joseph Stalin, who transformed the agrarian peasant Russian society into a global superpower, once said, “Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas.” 

Several businesses suffered huge losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, 3M is one company that made massive profits due to its innovative ideas. Today 3M has 118,000 patents and nearly 60000 products in the market, including Post-It notes, ACE bandages, and many more innovative medical and non-medical products. So how did 3M achieve that?

Such a massive number of products resulted from 3 M’s strategy to provide a wide variety of Innovation centres and Technical forums to create a pool of practical, novel, and worthful ideas nurtured into opportunities. Two innovative rules introduced by the 3M in 1948 drive the innovations at 3M. The first rule is the “15% rule”, where employees dedicate 15% of their time to innovation. The second rule is 30 per cent of the company’s profit must come from products introduced in the last four years. 

Executing such ideas requires a long-term vision, creating a conducive organizational environment, and execution or actual groundwork. And, 3M has mastered its craft. More MNCs such as Google and Hewlett-Packard have adopted this approach to propel innovation. The “Google Earth” was born out of such innovative rules. We follow a similar strategy with our work, teaching and research activities. 

We all have good ideas, dreams, thoughts and visions. However, having ideas alone is not enough. We have to execute them. Non-implemented ideas are mere wishes and desires. We only need the courage, conviction and commitment to pursue our ideas and ideals. Hands-on training provides the best learning experience. Unfortunately, the pandemic has deprived the majority of postgraduates of such training. However, one can still hone the skills quickly with innovative ideas and learning methods. Sketch-boarding is one of them. I will write about it in future blogs. 

Often our Ideas get stolen. But, we shouldn’t worry about it. We are still pioneers! Form is temporary, class is permanent. “Empires built on deceit come with an expiry date. Authenticity survives forever,” thus spake PNB. 

Prof. Dr. Prahlada N.B
5 February 2022

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