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Making Mediocrity the Enemy

Pradeep Henry, Change Leader & Cofounder at The Evident Group
Courtney Scharf
March 6th, 2015
As Change Leader and Cofounder at The Evident Group, Pradeep Henry is dedicated to helping his clients reach their full potential when it comes to innovation. With a dedication to excellence and commitment to teaching others the importance of innovation, Pradeep offers a unique perspective into the business world.

6 Questions with Pradeep:

1. What is your overall mission? What are you trying to achieve?
Organizations are spending too many millions every year on software projects without even knowing they could be working on the wrong software to start with. My current mission is to unleash new levels of business outcomes from software investments -- and to do that through business innovation. I would like CIOs/CMOs and practitioners to kick off software projects with Discovery-and-Design driven by organizational strategic agenda -- even before a penny is invested in technical implementation. My game-plan to make this happen involves bringing to them a business-class software practice.

2. How do you define innovation?
Innovation is anything new that can bring positive change to an organization or community. I deliberately left out "individual" because I believe that if you work on the larger entity, benefits will cascade down to individuals.

3. How do you motivate yourself or others to generate good ideas or creative input?
I'm pissed off when I see mediocrity, and mediocrity means "something that needs to change." Pissed-off people is what Tom Peters points to as the source of innovation. Besides being "angry" with mediocrity, I'm also motivated to direct my energies toward making that change happen -- as long as it is part of my vision and I have the capability. As for motivating others, I start by showing them the value of innovation for the organization or whatever the bigger entity is. But, many people seem to be interested in "what's in it for me" as well. So, after showing them the big picture, I also zoom in on the benefits for the individual.

4. How do you create an innovative culture?
One of my team members at our ex-employer Cognizant Technology Solutions went on to invent and patent while an employee at Schneider Electric in California. She says, "The culture within our team at Cognizant definitely sowed the seed for thinking out of the box. The constant insistence back then on thinking different even now makes me challenge my own creations. I also see the importance of certain things I was involved in back then – like doing research projects and running weekly creativity clubs. They help one develop an innovation mindset." Yes, you've got to create an innovation mindset. This is a crucial early step and the most difficult one as well. If you are successful in getting attitudes changed, all other activities become easier.

5. How do you continue and strive to be a leader in the field of innovation and creativity?
By innovating! That's a great way. Innovation leaders are trusted when they are themselves innovators. Another great way is to continue to read and watch stuff that's inspiring. I would be soon finishing reading Walter Isaacson's book "The Innovators" -- I also watched him on Bloomberg TV. Now I look forward to reading Jeremy Gutsche's "Better and Faster." I've seen the book trailer and I expect to learn and be inspired!

6, What emerging innovations or trends do you predict will have a big impact on the future?
Well, I did create the oil-drilling model (for business-class software practice), which helps improve the predictability of business outcomes. But I'm not sure if I'm great at predicting the future impact of emerging innovations. I will try, regardless. Given the state of the world today, I think innovations that would enable freedom, health, peace, and business would have the biggest positive impact. If "business" doesn't seem like a good-fit in my list, here's the simple reason I included it: businesses largely determine economy.