Transcript of interview with Syed Attaullah

Shivi: Hi Syed!

Syed: Hi Shivi!

Shivi: First of all, thanks much for accepting my request to share your experience about working on one of your innovative ideas! I'm sure your insights will help the readers of the article understand and relate to the concepts much better. Thank you so much!

Syed: Yeah, thanks for inviting me. I hope I'm able to share some valuable details.

Shivi: Sure! Let's get started then?

Syed: Yep!

Shivi: OK! Could you just briefly describe the problem that you faced? What actually triggered the idea in the first place?

Syed: OK! So we have builds for product documentation that transform DITA sources to XHTML and then deploy them to the server. Depending on the size of the documentation, on an average, the soonest a build completes is after around 3 hours from the start time. Even if it is only a minor change, say for example, fixing a DITA error, the build will need to go through the complete cycle, because it replicates everything that is in the repository and then starts transforming the files.
To give you another scenario, if you work for a product that is in the maintenance mode, the updates are very little. You don't want the build to take its own sweet time building just those minor changes and consume server resources that could have otherwise been well utilised by the other doc builds.

Shivi: Ah OK! That sounds like an interesting scenario! So then what was the solution that you proposed? Could you explain how you went about framing it?

Syed: Right! So, internally, our documentation is modularised in to plugins or folders, what you call it externally. For translation purposes, we also have the capability to build a single plugin locally. The local build uses the same script that is on the server. So, the solution was that you yourself build the plugin locally, of course making sure that the plugin is error-free, and deploy the output, that is a single JAR file, to the server all by yourself. So I had to collaborate with the build rep to implement the solution.

Shivi: Ah OK, that's really cool! Could you elaborate a bit about the ways in which this idea of yours proved beneficial?

Syed: Sure! Most of the products that are in the maintenance mode make use of this process, thus releasing crucial server resources for other products. Also, in crunch times, such as just before eGA or translation freeze, we have now the ability to refresh documentation just in time.

Shivi: Haan, that sounds great! I'm sure you felt so happy and excited after the idea was accepted for implementation?

Syed: Absolutely! It feels really great to not just follow what has been happening in the org, but to identify the problems and come out with simple, innovative solutions that save time, money, and effort.

Shivi: Oh yeah, I couldn't agree more. Thank you again for taking the time out to share your experience with us, Syed! Much appreciated!

Syed: Yeah sure! OK Shivi, bye bye!

Shivi: Thank you! Bye, Syed!

Awaken the innovator in you

Shivi is an information developer at the India Software Labs of IBM. Her favourite aspect of being in this profession is that every day dawns with unique opportunities and it is so fulfilling! Shivi is a learning enthusiast and is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others. When not at work, Shivi loves to spend time with her family that includes two super-active toddlers, and to rehearse light music.

Shivi Sivasubramanian

Tips to start thinking like an innovator. Small ideas, big returns. Tweet this!

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You have attended umpteen sessions that highlighted the importance of innovation and how to go about filing disclosures. Your manager has enlightened you and your team on the various rewarding aspects of innovation and how being innovative impacts businesses [aha, and your appraisals?] But hold on - are you sure you've got the fundamentals right?

If you are the one who is seeking answers to these questions, this article is for you! This article is a compilation of facts based on my own experience, and some great practical tips that I've received from my colleagues. Read on - you'd be surprised to learn that it is a lot easier to develop that "innovation mindset" than you'd have ever imagined!

Why innovate at all?

In simple terms, you innovate because it helps you stand out in the crowd. Innovation is key to determining what sets a company apart from its competitors. Innovation is vital to the continued success of a business, no matter how strong and efficient the company's workforce is. Put yourself in your user's shoes and answer this question - would you prefer a product that offers innovative features and makes your life easier, or one that is stagnant and prone to becoming obsolete fast? On a lighter note, the whole process of innovation could be so much fun, especially when you have truly encouraging people around you - I can vouch for it!

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

- Steve Jobs

Well, I'm totally blank - where do I start from?

So, maybe you do acknowledge that innovation is critical in the current market-driven environment but how do you even get started?

OK, I think I have new ideas - what's next?

In a nutshell, ideating is not a trait that is reserved for elite groups. Every single person has ideas but not everyone gives them serious thought. You might find it a bit hard to believe, but innovation does help one keep the mind fresh and energetic. Check it out for yourself. The rule for success is very simple - "Acknowledge the ideas, do the research, and get them validated". And yes, be bold and willing to face failures.

I have not failed. I've just found ten thousand ways that won't work.

- Thomas Edison


Alka Acharya and Samartha Vashishtha give a lowdown on how to file patents: You too can patent!


The quotes are from the internet.


Awaken the innovator in you

Written and narrated by Shivi Sivasubramanian.