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Excellence and Innovation in the Workplace by Dr. David Koilpillai, Professor at IIT Madras


  • 1. Excellence and Innovation in the Workplace R. David Koilpillai EE Department, IIT Madras SALT ProgrammeChennai, 10 December 2011

2. David Koilpillai Profile

  • Education
    • B.Tech,IIT Madras, MS, PhD Caltech, USA
  • Work Experience
    • IIT Madras(2002 present)
      • Professor, EE Department
      • Dean (Planning) (Nov 2011 present)
    • CEWiT Chief Scientist (Jan 2007 July 2007)
    • Co-Chair, IIT Hyderabad Task Force(June 2008 Dec 2009)
    • Ericsson Inc, USA(1990-2002)
      • Director, Advanced Technologies, Research and Patents
  • Professional
    • Areas of expertise: Cellular 4G systems, Cognitive radio, Smart grids
    • 32 Issued US patents, 1 Indian patent applications
    • Publications: 14 Journal, 51 Conference
    • Research Interests: Wireless Communications
    • Ericsson Inventor of Year Award 1999
    • Fellow, Indian National Academy of Engineering

3. Intel Inc

  • Clayton Christensen the author ofInnovators Dilemma
    • Call from Andrew Grove, former chairman of Intel.
    • Had read about Christensens Disruptive Technology
    • A talk to corporate leadership team
      • A distinct honour !!
  • Christensen excited and well-prepared
  • At Intel
    • Unexpected change in Groves scheduleCan give Christensen only 30 mins
    • 10 mins into presentation, Grove interrupted
    • Look, Ive got your model. Just tell us what it means for Intel.
  • Christensens response an illustration
    • Traditional steel mills large size, high capital investment, expensive infrastructure
    • Nucor (mini-mills) - attacking lowest end of market
      • Electric-arc furnaces: junk steel->steel reinforcing bars, orrebar
    • Gradually moved toward the high end, undercutting the traditional steel mill

4. Intel Inc

  • Grove said, OK, I get it. What it means for Intel is...,
  • Intels Celeron processor strategy
    • Going to bottom of the market to launch the Celeron processor
  • Celeron & Intel
    • Intel Pentium processor undercut by low-cost alternatives
    • Celeronintroduced in April 1998 for budget personal computers
    • Celeron branded CPU was based on the Pentium core
    • Optimised cost versus performance tradeoff
    • Pin-compatible with Pentium
    • Low-cost mobile computing solution
  • Christensen glad he didnt tell Andy Grove what Intel should do
  • The people within the organization have the best perspective
    • Facilitation to translate and apply key principles

5. Goal for today

  • The world I am familiar with Academics
    • Engineering
    • Passion for excellence and innovation
  • Observations in my context
  • Your partnership
    • Translate to your context
  • A very successful model

6. Our Focus

  • Excellence and Innovation in the Workplace
  • Two perspectives
  • Secular
    • Steve Jobs Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish
  • Christian
    • Colossians 3:23
    • Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the LORD
  • Begin with a secular view
  • End with the overarching Christian view
  • Build a holistic perspective


  • 1956 - first convocation ofIIT Kharagpur
  • Academic building was aformer detention camp
  • Pandit Nehru words
  • Here in the place of that Hijli Detention Camp
    • Stands the fine monument of India (IIT Kharagpur)
    • Representing India's technological urges
    • Scientists and technologists of the highest caliber
    • Help building the nation towards self-reliance
    • India's future in the making
  • A responsibility given to the IITs to shape Indias destiny
  • Last sixty years IITs have a stellar track record

Pandit Nehru 8. IIT versus MIT

  • An essential comparison to be best in class
  • IIT graduates on par with MIT graduates
  • PG level toppers at MIT are IIT graduates
  • Global rankings
    • MIT always in top 3
    • IIT not in top 100
  • Where is the difference?
    • Metrics for comparison
  • Need for constant comparison for improvement
    • Iron sharpens iron
  • How are you benchmarking your organization? Your team?

9. IITians excel in the upper levels of mediocrity Prof. T.T. Narendran, IITM 1983 10. Indians excel in the upper levels of mediocrity ?? 11.

  • Factor 1
  • Understanding our context

12. Apple Inc.

  • From Spectrum April 2011 article by Prof. K. J. Ray Liu (U Maryland)
  • June 7 2010 - Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiling iPhone4
  • Failed demonstration 570 Wi-Fi basestations
  • Repeated appeals still not enough capacity to handle demo
  • Game Theory in everyday life

Source: K.J. Ray Liu, Spectrum April 2011 13. Observations

  • Fast-changing technologies
  • Changes in our domain may take us by surprise
    • Even Apple Inc (a technology pioneer) !!
  • A constant need to learn our environment
  • Essential for businessexcellence, innovation and impact
  • Applicable for education and research as well
    • Changes c lassroom technologies&students learning methods
  • Adapt or perish
  • What are implications for you in your work environment ?

14. Time-To-First Publication (TTP)

  • First Publication
    • Most important milestones for a research scholar
  • First external publication
    • Conference, Journal
  • Thesis advisors and students must focus on this
  • Benefits
    • Confidence builder for student,Peer recognition , measure of progress
    • Antidote to research blues
  • TTP target 6-9 monthsafter start of research work

15. Research Model

  • Time management is crucial in research
    • Focus is key to success
  • Research
    • Solving problems no one else has solvedDisruptive
    • Improving another persons solutionIncremental
  • Two stage process for research projects
    • Replication of state-of-the-art paper / results
    • Innovation what can be improved
  • Incremental + ConfidenceDisruptive
  • A fail-proof model for success in research


  • Factor 2
  • Passion for Excellence

17. IBM

  • IBM manufacturing order to Japan
    • Atrial order
    • 10,000 pieces stringent quality control
    • Max of three defective pieces will be accepted
  • Japanese company
    • Order fulfilled
  • Addendum
    • We are unable to understand your business practice
    • 10,000 pieces manufactured
    • As required, three defective pieces have been produced
    • And added to shipment
    • Hope this pleases you
  • A passion for excellence !!


  • Excellence is not an act
  • It is a habit
  • It is the ability to do
  • the ordinary things extraordinarily well
  • Aristotle
  • Ph


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