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Innovation – different perceptions Ramesh Puttanna

An international event was organized by CII at  Bangalore on 30th & 31stAugust, 2012 and the theme was, “India innovates for the world”. I had the opportunity to attend for one day on 30th August. The inaugural address was by Hon’ble Chief Minister, Government of Karnataka, Mr Jagadish Shettar  and special address by Mr Kris Gopalakrishnan, Executive Co-Chairman, Infosys. It was well attended by Industry leaders, corporate executives and academia.  A brief on some of the sessions are found below.
Dr Lalitesh Katragadda, Country Head – India Products, Google talked about the important rules that Google follows while innovating.
·          Innovation, not instant perfection  
·          Ideas come from everywhere
·          Hire the Best
·          Share as much information as you can
·          Morph projects don’t kill them
·          Vision must be shared with stakeholders
·          Users come first
·          Data drives decisions
·          Launch and then iterate
·          20 % work time doctrine
Dr Raja Krishnamurthy, R&D head, 3M Indiatouched upon the different material innovations leading to product solutions at 3M. He spoke about the diverse materials available today and the different technology platforms & markets. He categorized materials in terms of –
·         Structure
·         Property
·         Process
He briefly touched upon Nano-technology & Non-wovens technology. In India, they have recently developed “Rigid Delineator” for highway use, a kind of reflective Marker.
Deepika Govind ,Fashion designer, DG Luxury Lifestyle  spoke about the sensitive touch of the Human hand in Indian crafts & textiles. Her design philosophy is ‘Fashion for the EARTH
E = Elements
A = Art
R = Revolution
T = Technology
H = Human hand
Deepika Govind  displayed many innovative designs using Peace silk(or nonviolent silk where the silk worm is not killed) and has worked hard in reviving the weaving traditions(i.e. Patola weave) of Gujarat. She showcased many of her creations in Pop Patola style and displayed her sensibility and design culture in her creations suited to modern day.
Mr Pankaj Jhunjha, General Manager, Tata Motors  focused on the Cost-Value dynamics of producing the Tata range of automobiles in India and enumerated on 4 basic principles:
·         Need satisfaction – primary & secondary
·         Value proposition
·         Personality /Style statement
·         Brand language
Mr Shekar Viswanathan, Deputy Managing Director, Toyota Kirloskar Motor took the audience through a journey of the making of the Toyota ETIOS in India. He spoke about how the idea was conceptualized in terms of developing a new product (ETIOS) for the Indian roads and the three basic principles which was not compromised under any circumstances:
·         Affordable price
·         Smart product
·         Safety, Eco-friendliness & reliability
Above all, the Kaizen philosophy that guided all through was to have:
·         Quality Product
·         Quality People
·         Quality Parts
·         Quality Service
He concluded by the Toyota principle of   Learn -> Practice -> Drive
Mr Ramanujam Sridhar, Founder CEO, Brand-comm gave an insight into Branding.  He spoke about how important it is for a Brand to be relevant and different. He cited  few examples like Starbucks India, Virgin Atlantic, Vikram  hospitals to drive home the point. He emphasized on the following to drive the importance of Branding in terms of:
·         Product form & function
·         Price point
·         Consumer experience
·         Strategy
·         Identity
·         Culture
Mr K Ramakrishna, President – Marketing, Café Coffee Day Group traced the history of introducing the Café Coffee Day and how the business model got refined over the years. Café Coffee Day owns  around 1000 acres of Coffee plantations and at present has  1300 cafes in about 850 cities. It opened its first outlet in Bangalore in 1996. He shared that  India per capita consumption of coffee is about 82 gms/person/year. The company believes in  making  greater use of technology, both at the back and front ends. The main challenges they are facing today is in
·         Supply chain and logistics
·         Increasing footprints
·         Hiring and managing human resource
An in-house magazine  called Café Beat  is available at the outlet and some loyalty programs are being offered at present to the customers. He concluded by the 4 P’s which he believes in terms of innovation are very important.
·         Propose       – an idea
·         Pitch          – the idea
·         Pilot           – the product or service
·         Perpetrate   – spread around and scale up
Mr Sundi Natarajan, Technology entrepreneur & Angel Investor, India Angel Network explained the process of innovation
·         Idea funnel
·         Proof of concept 
·         Validation
·         Pivoting
·         Scaling up
·         Marketing/Sales
and the stages at which the funding generally happens. The points that are vital for funding include:
·         Energy & Passion of the team
·         Time period
·         Resources
·         Transparency
He concluded by sharing the three parameters which VCs generally look at, namely,
a) Team        b) Technology    and   c) Traction.
The day concluded by a very interesting and interactive session on “Balancing Profession and Passion” by  Mr Aroon Raman, MD of Raman FibreScience, Mr Ramji Raghavan, Founder Chairman, Dr Gopichand Katragadda, MD, GE India Technology Center, Mr Anil Srinivasan, Classical Pianist & Founder, Rhapsody music, Ms Manasi Prasad, Classical Musician & project Director, Centre for Indian Music Experience.
Many anecdotes and stories were shared with a lot of humor by the panelists. Live demonstrations were given in the area of innovation in music which was very well enjoyed by the audience. Overall, the summit was a grand success and was well appreciated by the participants.

The different perceptions of Innovation shared by the panelists at the summit may be better understood by the model suggested below.  Figure 1.

The factors which influence Innovation management broadly are- Structure, Process, Culture and Leadership at the corporate level. Of these, the first two, structure and process form the ‘Hardware’ while the latter, culture and leadership form the ‘Software’. A right synergy between the hardware and software prove appropriate for formulating and implementing innovation strategies in the manufacturing and service sectors. Each of these factors can be disaggregated into several sub-factors as mentioned below.
  • Ambidextrous organization
  • based on innovation strategy & portfolio
  • must balance creativity & value capture
  • networks of people inside & outside organization
  • should have metrics & rewards systems in place
  • support business model & technological change
  • integrate innovation within the organization
  • use partners for outsourcing innovation
  • sustain traction within teams
  • strike a balance between business model and technology
  • focus on value creation
  • choice of strategy
  • attract the right talent & retain
  • choice of  the right organization structure
  • have tolerance towards failure
  • drive for process maturity
  • diagnostic attitude in identifying gaps
  • align with overall vision of the organization
  • idea generation
  • idea screening
  • proof of concept
  • validation
  • pivoting
  • product development
  • market testing
  • commercialization
  • should be dynamic
  • 20% doctrine of work – “freedom to think creatively”
  • have a winning attitude
  • overcome fear of failure
  • customer centric focus
  • open source
  • receptive to new ideas & change
  • provide business mentality
  • have a right cultural fit while hiring human resources
  • focus on quality