26 August 2005

An environment for innovation

Innovation doesn’t just happen. It doesn’t drop out of the sky one fine day. It requires an environment that encourages the generation of new ideas… the creation and delivery of new products, services, processes, systems and businesses. And then comes the next vital step: adoption, without which no one can really profit from the effort.

“The adoption of innovations is a journey from one situation of equilibrium to another,” says Dr Bhaskar Chakraborti in an interview with Chirantan Chatterjee from The Economic Times [PDF version].

But, what exactly is innovation?

Once again, Dr Chakraborti comes to our rescue with a lucid definition: “I view innovation as any mechanism of change that has a real potential to disrupt the status quo and is a lever for achieving your strategic objectives. It must also have an element of risk embedded in it in terms of what follows after attempting to disrupt the status quo. That is what makes the innovation special and why every competitor or market participant does not automatically do it.”

Dr Bhaskar Chakraborti is author of ‘Slow Pace of Fast Change – Bringing Innovations to Market in a Connected World’, published by Harvard Business School Press in 2003, as well as a Partner and Thought Leader at Monitor Group, the global strategy firm from the Cambridge, Massachusetts in the U.S., which has had founders like Professor Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School. As a business philosophy, he believes, innovation “is never going to go away. We are going to continue to struggle to find ways to harness it and never quite get it right.” But the effort will be on. Globally or in the Indian context, innovation is going to play a critical role.

In fact, the other day, while reading up on innovation and enterprise on the Net, I came upon several webpages from
http://www.maltaenterprise.com (the Malta government’s information centre for attracting inward investment and supporting enterprise in Malta), and I found them simple and quite enlightening. I have reproduced portions from their website below:

"Successful partnerships between business, intermediaries and the public sector are key to the realisation of potential innovation, competition, growth and the development of an enterprise economy. In the new economy, strategic alliances enable business to gain competitive advantage through access to a partner's resources, including markets, technologies, capital and people."

"Collaboration through networking: Collaboration through the creation of business networks is key to the delivery of innovation, enabling companies to reduce their risk, gain access to new markets, attain knowledge and technology and generate new ideas.

Knowledge transfer: The transfer of knowledge from universities and other research centres to businesses is a stimulus for scientific and technological innovation. This drives increased competitiveness and generates growth within the business marketplace.

Creative, rewarding and inclusive culture: The most successful innovative companies create an environment within their business, which nurtures innovation. This is achieved through providing their workers with incentives to find better ways of working and rewarding the employees who generate new ideas."

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