Friday, July 18, 2008

Boxed Creativity...!

Looks like the gasoline retail sector is quite agile - things are way too short lived here ! I mean-3 weeks ago we were asked to come up with an algorithm (which would eventually be a software bundle) that computes the optimized price you should be selling gasoline in order to outshine your competitors (or lets say stay in business). And today when we were all excited to Demo our supposedly cool product -- we were told that we need to put a human check / verification on top of our product to make sure that software's results are fine. Boy, that doesn't sound fun (except the fact that our tool & our team got nice reviews & a sumptuous dinner by our VP) - 'coz I heard somewhere that in current times average folks rely more on data generated by a software than humans !! But then in Gasoline Business (I told myself)- you would certainly not want scenarios like:
  • On a rainy day, software assumes sales will be less since quite a number of people will spend time indoors& thus increases gas price by an amount which will make customers quite uncomfortable. And you would certainly not wish to loose your loyal customers!
  • On the other hand, on a very busy day - due to competition the software prices gasoline way too low say to boost up sales - $1.99 a gallon - which is by far not good for the company (I would love to visit that gas station though:))

In light of the above scenarios our Project Manager decided to have a human as a bridge between our s/w and the Gas Stations:( He further suggested us to build a kind of self learning algorithm wherein the software learns the conditions as and when a human does a manual override to the prices !! The closest one that would made 'em really happy - I believe should have an intelligence like Google's Spell Checker. Speaking of which - I am sure the phrase "Outside the Box Thinking...!" rings a bell in most of us - afterall thats what we are asked to practice day in and day out across our sojourn across the erudite Corporate World.

From my experience @ Office yday (I kept thinking about it quite late till I dozed off finally), I wanted somebody to answer tons of my questions - What?/How come?/Why? types. Anyways, while driving to workplace today(it was a lovely sunny day) I devised the term "Boxed Creativity TM ". Here are some of the insights about "Boxed Creativity TM " - amidst the brownian motion going on in my mind since yesterday:

  • Limits: In the world of Boxed Creativity - one knows the practical limits (budget/person hours)beforehand. Thus, more than the Idea Generation (no doubt its important but...) - its execution with the available resources remains in focus.
  • Control Variables: By being in the box, you know very well what factors can affect the box (task at hand) in +ve/-ve manner.
  • Performance Under Pressure: By being in the box you realise what does your project/business/company needs in order to maximise the execution efficiencies. An example can be a tennis player (Roger remains my favorite) - who starts off his sporting career by knowing the physical limitations of his body & the pinching fact that there are other superb world class players out there. How do you think he plans then? I believe by being Inside the box yet being super creative ! (More on this in a later post sometime later).
  • Candid Feedback: In addition to being present in the box and recording ideas, its vital to come out once in a while to see how you are doing or better still have your ideas reviewed by a fellow peer or your best friend. I have a firm belief that this approach can bring about phenomenal results in a very short time.

Well, something tells me that this idea is gonna work in someway so before I start twittering about the idea of Boxed Creativity - let me take a plunge into the Box. Will share my findings soon ! Till then keep your creative hats on :)

On and yes my sincere congratulations to Manmohan Uncle for winning the confidence vote-you made us proud yet again :D

No comments: