Official Blog of Center10 Consulting

Innovation: Beyond Patents To Business Possibilities

on Wednesday, November 28, 2012
I am in India for two weeks of work and time with family. I plan to share on this blog some of what I see around business and innovation as I travel through Trivandrum, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore.

Earlier this week, while speaking to the MBA students at the Asian School of Business and the DC School of Management, we discussed the challenges of developing innovation-oriented behaviors in a culture and economy that doesn't often encourage or value them. We discussed the lack of patents, the sense that sticking to the knitting was more important than the behaviors that allow organizations to question their own models and systems as disruptive innovations nip at their heels.
    Photo credit: T.P.Sreenivasan
A more general query if India had inherent obstacles to truly drive to transformational innovation seemed to be a bit of an over-reach, though.

In fact, the energy I found around me as I met entrepreneurs (in flights, at dinners, you name it) suggests that even if larger organizations may not be ready to evolve, there is more than enough innovative juice out there. Indeed, this makes India pretty much the same as any other market.

There is one difference, though. There are many more nationally owned or regulated sectors in India, even as the economy continues to slowly deregulate. I urged the students to pay close attention to those systematic shifts - looking at each part of the value chain of a sector that's being deregulated can open up a multitude of opportunities.

For example, imagine the economic activity that could emerge if the food distribution system were truly deregulated. The food "Ration" system was introduced to meet the pressures of World War II, and has been retained as a deliberate social policy. While a life saver in many ways, this is a system riddled with inefficiency and waste. The businesses and innovations that could happen at each point, and indeed, at each of the interstices of the process would be hugely valuable to the innovator, not to mention, potentially socially beneficial.

I feel a research piece coming on - looking into some of the sectors being considered for increased openness, and laying the innovative businesses we could put into play. It's needed, if we're actually to meet the longer term GDP expectations that have been projected for India. I've seen numbers as high as ~1000% growth over the next 30 years. Given an average 8% GDP growth rate over the past ten years, the only hope for delivering on such ambitions is Disruptive, Transformational Innovation.

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