Rules for innovators & Innovation

Innovation as a basic instinct for India to be an ‘Innovation Capital’ 

The recently released ‘GE Global Innovation Barometer 2018’ (GIB), is a good reference document. As always, being published by a corporate, it will have its share of ‘business interests’ at its core to ensure that the government and corporates think in a manner that helps the businesses, but a few points of the report are really important!!

As a student and a practitioner of innovation, I write this article to clear some basics about innovation

According to GIB,

  • The top five innovation conducive countries have the five largest GDPs; USA, Japan Germany, China and the U.K.
  • India is amongst the countries where multinationals are the main driver for innovation and going by the historical tracking data at a global level,this had the largest increase from 2014 to 2018
  • When it comes to SMEs being the main driver for innovation in a country (Historical tracking data at a global level); Germany comes to the top, and India is amongst the bottom (10 %)
  • In emerging economies, governments are now not seen to be driving innovation as much as they were in 2014.

When India is trying to grow to a 10 trillion-dollar economy over a decade, we cannot ignore the above facts. India has to become a pioneering leader in innovation to have a sustainable growth and become a strong economy as we cannot achieve our goals without innovation. The government needs to take the lead for innovation! Instead of MNCs driving innovation in India, it must be the MSMEs which should be majorly driving it.

In 2016, the World Bank said that, 69 % of the jobs in India are under threat due to automation, and that’s a part of the natural evolution and maturity; but another fact that we should remember is, that if India innovates in MSME, agriculture, education, health, smart cities, tourism and services sector, we will create more jobs than we can ever think of. Every household can have a decent job in the next 10 years and for that, we need the ‘India Innovation Mission’. Innovation is not prescriptive i.e. we cannot issue a G.O (Government Order) that India will innovate from tomorrow.

Let’s understand some basics about innovation:

  1. Innovation is not about incremental change or tweaking some processes. It is about massive change that disrupts and transforms a sector forever. Example;
  • Digital Photography transformed photography sector
  • Mobile phones changed the communication sector and created a massive impact
  • Kindle transformed how we read, and the publishing sector
  • Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) transformed how we send satellites in space cost effectively, and India has become a world leader in PSLV launches.
  • Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) is a wonderful example of how India innovated against odds. I call it the ‘MOM model of innovation’, wherein, we landed at Mars at the cost of USD 74 million versus a USD 674 million Maven of the US, and much cheaper than the movie ‘Gravity’ that costed USD 100 million!! Moreover, we landed in our very first attempt!!
  • Aravind hospitals transformed cataract surgery
  1. Any Innovation needs to qualify a few basic criteria;
  • Changes the sector forever
  • Creates a mass impact
  • Affects the entire value chain
  • Disrupts the price- market – usage
  • Is asset light
  • Is Scalable and stimulates further innovation
  1. Innovation can be in three spheres; product (mobiles), process (Ola, Uber) and system (Toyota).

India presents a unique opportunity to innovative in almost every sector. Everything in India that can be touched has the potential to be innovated and transformed. Since we have huge population to cater to, and we have resource crunch in terms of finances and infrastructure; the only way India can survive is by innovating, and the challenges in India present a fertile ground, making India a melting pot for innovation.

So, how do we go about making India the innovation capital? India needs to set up the India Innovation Mission (I2 M), under which, we address the following;

  • Top priority – change the work place setting, culture and environment.
  • Education system has to transform. As a member of the National Education Policy committee, I have made specific recommendations. If implemented, it will be a great contributor
  • Government needs to change the way it interfaces with the public and how it functions. Authoritative culture is against the basic tenets of innovation

A lot to learn from the USA: I have travelled most of the world, and I observed that USA remains a leader in innovation, and we can learn a lot from the US. I arrived at the following six commandments for making an organization/institution/ country innovative;

  1. No hierarchy based protocols & no formalities amongst colleagues
  2. Flexibility in approach in all spheres of functioning.
  3. Self-development – quality time with family and for self
  4. Meritocracy based system
  5. Failure is not a taboo
  6. Availability of capital

Innovation cannot be enforced externally and has to be inculcated as an ‘intrinsic quality’, facilitated by a conducive ‘ecosystem’, with ‘planned efforts’. In India, under the I2 M, we need to bring a massive and planned change

More so, with PM Modi’s vision of a New India , India will have to become the Innovation capital of the world and Innovation has to be the basic instinct . The same principles apply to every developed and developing country to become an innovative country.

We should remember; Earlier, we innovated when we got into a problem, now if we don’t innovate, we will get into a problem.

Prof. Rajendra Pratap Gupta holds a master degree in innovation & change management, is a Distinguished Professor of Innovation @ a Central University

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