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No. Innovative thinking is not about drawing pretty pictures and thinking up excuses for missing class. It is about finding ways to be more effective, it is about looking for alternatives which are better, it is about beating your competition before they even know that there is competition. It is about outthinking your rivals.

Indian students spend the first 15 years of their scholastic lives learning and memorizing what they are told is the "right" answer. And it is only these answers that get marks. Students cease to think independently and therefore, see no alternatives. This method may be successful up to a point, but in business, success does not come to those who cannot see the "other" ways of accomplishing and achieving their goals.

So what apart from a deeply ingrained habit of not thinking stops us from thinking, of being more effective? We need to remember that there is no "right" answer. If this was so we'd still be living in caves and counting in 10s and 20s using or fingers and toes! So stop focusing on the correct answer. Look at the alternatives, the what-ifs and you will definitely end up with what is right and relevant for the here and now. Think of McAloo Tikki... would a McDonald's anywhere else in the world serve it? No, never. But in India it serves a need so three cheers for the person who had this innovative idea. Was this person wrong? No. Bang on and right. Also stop being logical. If we were to be guided only by logic we would never have airplanes. Come on, how can something that has a maximum payload 55.6 tonnes fly through the air at a speed of 890 kms/hr? But it does, and very successfully too.

Forget about "everybody" and definitely forget about "always". There is never a need to follow the herd and there is never an always because change is one of the things that is truly "always". How many of you would lose your minds if you were separated from your cell phones? But did we ‘always" have them? Definitely not.

In making decisions ask yourself two questions... What if? And Why not? These allow your imagination to come to the fore and imagine the impossible, improbable and implausible. Can you imagine, we are going to have driverless cars very soon? Impossible? No. It's definitely going to be here very soon. Allow your mind to play with ideas and you'll find that work then becomes play. The dictum "work hard and play harder" becomes more than true.

Today we are all specialists and we specialize in a particular field. Though this is important we must realize that areas of work are inter-related and are not contained in watertight compartments. Learn as much as you can and then only will you be able to see the pattern, the mesh, that connects everything. Can you become a Marketing guru with no idea whatsoever of Finance? Can you lead a team with no idea of Human Resource Management or Organizational Behavior? Come on, we need to know and appreciate the different and varying aspects of many skills, and use the bundle, as it were, to be successful. The more you do, the more you learn. So keep your eyes and ears open. Ideas will come to you through this process.

No, it's not wrong to be wrong. It's the only way you'll learn and the only way you'll move forward. How often did you fall off a bike when you first got on one as a child? You learnt through your mistakes and ofcourse, through diligence and perseverance. And did you succeed? Yes. As Thomas Alva Edison said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work..."

So go on, do something different and WIN.


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