Interconnectedness led Innovation

A 4 hour drive east from Erode, you reach one of the seven union territories of India, Puducherry. Formerly known as Pondicherry, located on the East Coast, along The Bay of Bengal, is a place where culture, history, traditions and diversity all meet. Pondicherry, the way I am used to calling it, is not a Goa within, something in it makes it incomparable to any place in India. The analogy between Goa and Pondicherry exists because there are significantly a large number of people who think that there is similarity between the two. Trust me! There isn’t. I often had to pinch myself and question if I am even in India, or for that matter, in Tamil Nadu. You see people from across 50 nations living together, with a close inclusivity tying everyone together making sure that there is no one being left off feeling alienated.

With twisty and winding roads, laid for people to lose themselves amidst a surreal fusion of the red sand and the blue sky. Trees sparsely grown give you a sense of desolateness, but hey, that is the beauty of the topography. With this very local setting, you find a global village, centred with the MatriMandir, figuratively compared by tourists with a golden globe. Auroville has a perfect blend of the gold in the middle of the contrast red surrounding. Aurovillians are celebrating interconnectedness for 50 years, next year.

We all know how politics in India plays its influence and how it has been projected outwards to all of us and international relations between countries that are tagged as emerging and emerged. Go back 50 years and try picturing a proposal to have 3600 acres of land, for a global village in a fairly remote part in the state of Tamil Nadu. India’s whole heartedly accepted it and that openness is what we all should be proud of. Although the nation was willing for such a village, it was primarily driven and finally became a reality because of the radicalness from the Mother of Aurobindo Ashram.

You are blind if you have sight but no vision, said Helen Keller. Mother clearly had a vision and that has nurtured the growth and development of this wonderful village. It is with no doubt, that there has been a lot of struggle, fights and difficulties in keeping this wired the way the founder visioned it. There have been fights for rights over this region as well. It is, after all humans who live there, so there have been desires and greed fueled by the love for this beautiful surrounding.

The planned targets have not been reached by the system that governs Auroville. However, the whole concept of Auroville is for sure, the oasis, in the desert we all are in. Against all odds, the people in this village have proved that radical ideas are possible, provided we put our heart into it. The positivity of this region has clearly shadowed every negativity Auroville has faced.

Not only bringing in people from across the globe, Auroville, through its interconnectedness has brought the upliftment of the surrounding villages and its people. Innovation in every corner is primarily because of the diversity this region houses. You can find the best of artists creating wonderful works of art day in and day out.

French styled buildings 5 km away, I was in a zen garden eating my breakfast, after a good night’s sleep in an Iranian guest house. Later, I took myself to Svaram, a musical garden founded by Aurelio, with a local cold sarbath in hand. Post lunch, discussions went on in a Chinese joint and to finish the meal we had some wonderful cake and coffee in a French café. Stomach full, I had a peek into how local traditional sculpting is done by the world famous Munusamy. Finally the entire day was finished off with some Italian dinner! Tell me one other place in this world that offers this variety. Oh- I forget the stop over at the handcraft souvenir shop that the surrounding villagers run.

Having travelled for 4 hours, I found that the secret to accelerate innovation  is, interconnectedness amongst a very diverse crowd. The beauty is that any surrounding, be it your work or your study group can be made effective because, it is diverse by nature. Nurturing that diversity will automatically bring out the innovation in process management, studying, learning, organisation tactics, group meetings, prototyping and product building, social work or even in partying. What I found in Auroville to be very apparent was missing from most of our work places and that has lead to a very boring work ecosystem. You may have read about all this through books and articles off medium, but it is happening live and in front of your eyes.

By joining hands with the locals, interconnectedness has once again brought the best of creativity out of humans. We talk of empowerment and skilling the youth as if it is the task of high priority at present but, one must understand that this has already been happening and thought of, 5 decades ago. Once we plan on brining diversity, we must start creating synergy. Only then, can we get the best of results from the team. We often forget to forge links in our chains by looking at our surroundings.

Although slow, this is an ecosystem that has not stopped even a second.

The take away MAK tips are:

Do not stop. As rightly said, if you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. Most important thing is not to stop. Auroville has never stopped in its journey and for sure, will never stop as well. Stopping means you settle and that does not motivate and encourage the team to try out new things ultimately not innovating at all.

Innovation can happen when you accept what the other can do and not deal with the rational of what he can’t do. As rightly said by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey, in An Everyone Culture, maximising an individual’s potential leads to the maximisation of the organisation’s potential. Leadership pops up here; let your team mates grow and that ultimately leads to targets you set for the team.

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