Another interview of an an entrepreneur. Apart from being an entrepreneur he is a Machine Learning expert, keynote speaker and innovation strategist. Parag is Founder and CEO of the iknowlation Research Labs Pvt Ltd and EKLaT Research. Parag holds PhD from IIT Khargpur and management education from IIM Kolkata. UGSM Monarch Business School, Switzerland conferred DSc – higher doctorate on him for his work on strategic knowledge innovation. Parag is also a visiting researcher and faculty at various B-Schools and Technical Schools.
Parag is working closely with start-ups as consultant and innovation strategist. He is recipient of Oriental Foundation Scholarship, Star Award and was nominated for prestigious Dr SS Bhatnagar Award in 2013 and 2014.
What inspired you to start writing?
Expressing yourself and your thoughts is challenging task. This becomes more challenging as complexity increases. Expressing complex thoughts and events in simple words is dream of every creative person. I always wanted to express my thoughts and ideas in best possible way so that others can benefit from it. These ideas started growing as stories and started chasing me.
Expressing yourself creates avenues for learning. Hence I began expressing myself – sometimes in the form of poems, sometimes in the form of small articles. Sometimes words eluded me while in other cases thoughts eluded me. My unending struggle with thoughts continued as some of my initial articles began to take shape on paper. As I started this expression journey some of my close friends encouraged me some times with suggestions and sometimes with creative criticism. This opened up whole series of avenues for learning. Urge of expressing myself and taking my ideas to others inspired me to begin writing. The wonderful journey continued as words started falling in place.
What did you liked to read when you were a boy?
It was one of the most wonderful day in my life when my grandfather gifted me famous book “Shyamchi Aai” – (Shyam’s Mother) by Sane Guruji when I was eight. That was a serious beginning of my reading journey. That went through very informative landscape as many great books cam to my help on my way. As a boy I used to read fictions – right from Baburao Arnalkar to Sidney Sheldon I read hundreds of fictions. The stories of Zunjar created more and more interest. I used to read James Hadley chase – Robin Cook – even I read novels by VS Khandekar and Poems by Balkavee. The rage of angles by Sidney Sheldon and Kraunchwadh by VS Khandekar occupied permanent place in my bookrack. These were the compelling stories. A bright lawyer fighting for justice in Rage of Angels and a young social worker with very open thoughts from kraunchwadh became part of my life. It was little later I turned to self-help books.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
Ideation is crucial part of this process. Taking creative thoughts on paper is even more difficult. Many times bright idea remain in mind and we fail to put down them on paper. Articulating these ideas is difficult part of the process. But most difficult part is to understand your readers and reaching out to them. Even though it has become bit easier with penetration of media and social networking – still with reducing attention span the challenge prevails. Everyone has creativity in some form – when your creativity harmonizes with creativity of your reader – eternal literature rises in the form of golden music. Then writing goes beyond words and your thoughts reaches straight to the heart of your reader. Hitting the right cord to reach to heart of your readers is real test of Author.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
Though I am not very methodical but I believe in detailed research. The research involves research about characters, places and emotions. In case of business books it is about organizations, strategies, models and pragmatic numbers. As the ideas start crowding the mind – I begin my research related to idea. If it is related to place – I visit those places and spend time there. If it is about characters I take time to visit people those have similarities with characters in my mind. If it is related to business I begin visiting organizations in that domain and start interviewing persons and executives in related profession.
I study human behaviors, their interaction patterns – and opinions of different people. In case of technical books I am more pragmatic and start my research from lab. For my fictions I have been doing research over more than two years. For business and strategy books also I spent more than three years in meeting people, researching about different models and closely synthesizing data and information.
That ends up in I visiting hundreds of organizations and places. For my recent book I visited over 200 organizations. I agree that it takes lot of time but I like to spend time on that. Actually this phase is one of the most interesting phases in writing books. The research typically goes on from six months to sometimes over couple of years. This research changes original thoughts and helps to blossom new ideas that can allow to put down best thoughts in most elegant and useful form for readers.
What motivated you to write the book “Knowledge Innovation Strategy”?
While I have been conducting series of lectures in European and Indian B-schools and special sessions for CEOs at different places on Knowledge Innovation – I received many queries from different candidates. I started feeling that concepts from traditional strategy books and even some very interesting books published in 2005 are no longer relevant. These thoughts were supported by my practical experience and business outcomes during my stint as business and research executive.
Probably we need different tools and new strategy models and actually a new paradigm for new world. The concept of uncontested market place may not be relevant now – we need something more to produce sustainable value in turbulent, dynamic market place. Chasing these thoughts was my first step to book “Knowledge Innovation Strategy”. These thoughts confirmed with my interactions with over 200 innovative organizations. The need of new strategic paradigm for innovation that can really help organizations to create sustainable value motivated me to write this book.
As a consultant I have been interacting with over dozen organizations. This gave me opportunity to apply these new researched concepts and models. With every outing and consulting assignment these models are refined and came to a level where I thought these can be used effectively and are the need of every organization. One needs to compete without competing and get out of this prison of rate race. To build organizations those are knowledge warriors rather than competition prisoners, motivated me to write this book.
Can you tell us more about your latest book ” Knowledge Innovation Strategy “?
“Knowledge Innovation Strategy” is about converting adversities into opportunities by practicing “Knowledge Innovation Strategy”. This book is about strategic models and tools for transition from competition centric to knowledge centric, analysis centric to synthesis centric. Dr FC Kohli and Dr. PK Sinha praised this as landmark strategy and innovation book. This book advocates new paradigm of Systemic Knowledge Innovation. The book further elaborates new paradigm in innovation and strategic business thinking, calling on companies to build a “Knowledge Efficient Organization” for the future through “systemic knowledge innovation (SKI)”.
Strategy and innovation are terms that have increasingly lost their meaning in today’s competitive cut-throat business environment, this book gives them fresh meaning with refreshing associative models and case studies. In the midst of fierce competition and a turbulent market, knowledge innovation strategy presents an important breakthrough in innovation and strategic business thinking and will be a great motivator for organisations that aim to expand knowledge boundaries beyond the competitive landscape. To elaborate a little more – knowledge innovation strategy is about creating “an uncontested knowledge space” using systemic knowledge innovation.
“Knowledge Innovation strategy” is a systematic and systemic approach for organization to come out of competition centric and more for less paradigm. Hence it is not just for the big leap but also for creating knowledge advantage that guides organisations on to a new bold path of Knowledge Innovation to create sustainable knowledge advantage. The novel pathways are elaborated in the book through relevant and compelling examples, showing how companies like Aquachill, AirTight Networks, Serum Institutes, Mapro, Ketan Food Exports, PARI, Tata Group, Chitale Dairies and Aditya Auto Test could find simple, refreshing solutions to complex problems “to create their own uncontested knowledge space.
Pointing out how companies need to develop products to successfully meet the total needs of the customer, Tata Group chairman emeritus Ratan Tata says about this book – “Knowledge Innovation Strategy approach provides a “very interesting pathway” to the quest for better serving of customers “and the development of a superior knowledge base”. The entirely new but very effective and systematic business and strategic models are emerged through the research are elaborated in this book. It introduces the knowledge canvas model and an IDEA matrix to practice this new paradigm.
Knowledge innovation strategy will help organisations to look at business in new and refreshing perspective and to create more knowledge value helping them to conquer new knowledge horizons and ultimately producing higher and sustainable impact.
How did you came up with the idea of writing Knowledge Building genre book?
It is the batch of CEOs in Europe where I was taking sessions on Knowledge Innovation. The candidates have many questions and some queries really questioned the present strategic paradigm, more for less approach and competition based strategies. As a Knowledge Innovation expert and Machine Learning researcher I started to look at all these problems with fresh mind. I once again began analysis with systemic knowledge building perspective. Some questions like building world-class product – creating world-class organization were on foreground. The quest of applying knowledge innovation to solve complex problems in simple way fueled the idea of writing book in knowledge building genre.
Who are your favorite authors?
VS Khandekar, Sidney Sheldon, PL Deshpande and Paulo Coelho
How much time do you dedicate for writing on a daily basis?
I am not too methodical about that. Some times when ideas are bubbling I spend all available time even some times I take off from work and spend complete days and weeks on writing. Otherwise I give an hour to two hours on daily basis. It is interesting that how the work evolves and start demanding more time. I get engross and slowly it engrosses my full day impacting my other activities.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Simply I can say – Write sensibly – and hit the right cord. Writing is about passionate expression. Try to express your thoughts and that can help others. I think creative thoughts are going to contribute to make this world a better place to live in. When you begin to enjoy writing the magnificent literary work results. Don’t let die your creative thoughts in mind – let them reach to audience and can help to make this world a better place to live in. After all it is creativity that is at the heart of human life and this nature…
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