Innovations Challenged!

innovations challenged

In most organisations – an innovation is challenged first, as a result of resistance to change – a typical ‘drawback’ encountered amongst successful business professionals!

As Vijay Govindarajan, in his book, “The Other side of Innovation”, states, ‘There are many typologies that classify innovation efforts on the basis of their possible strategic impact. Innovations can be sustaining or disruptive! They can be radical or incremental. They can be competence- enhancing or competence-destroying.” While these classifications are useful in selecting which innovation initiative is likely to have the most powerful strategic impact, they offer little insight into how to make the innovations happen.

Personally, I think that Innovation has to be ‘incremental’ (as it is met with less or no resistance) and its progress be monitored at the different phases of its occurence. Ideas are useful; in fact, very useful in learning organisations such as Hewlett Packard Company! There is acceptance and if not, there is at least an effort to understand and consider it. I tend to agree that when innovation is disruptive, it is met with lot of resistance. Legacy systems cannot be challenged without valid reasons!

At Kores- HP business venture into ‘HP Printer consumables’ distribution, there was a two-way dialogue most of the time! NO, there were no reversal of roles between the principal and the distributor; but, there was transparency or openness to accept new ideas on either side. Whether providing octroi paid products within Mumbai city thereby widening the channel; adding semi-urban cities’ as new points of sales, supported with HP channel health; acknowledging Indian market’s specific requirements (regarding price and availability) so as to develop ‘India Packs’; introducing incentive schemes to increase shelf life of ‘low margin’ products at retail level – all these led to increase in the market size – actually creating new markets! These were innovations disguised as strategies!

Yes, we did accept and implement few ‘legacy’ strategies too, but our focus was to be responsive to market needs! The results proved that ‘ideas’ did matter and it became a component to strategies effectively! Innovations should be context-specific and such ‘ideas’ get implemented quickly as the results are tangible and can be quantified. I do not believe in turning the world upside down to implement new ideas!! Asking stationery stores to sell HP print cartridges – as an addition to their existing product portfolio, made sense! Because, there was no ‘special’ additional cost or investment and the clientèle was – more or less – was the same. But, only few of such stationery stores succeeded while most failed; they were not ready to satisfy the demanding service levels and speculative pricing! It was no rocket science required to succeed; and, the major difference in HP Printer consumables’ distribution, when compared to others : pricing and availability played a very important factor to boost or dampen sales! Needless to say, service levels had to be enhanced to meet the ‘dynamic’ requirements of the market!

Any innovation is acknowledged only after it gets implemented successfully and major bottle neck remains to be ‘market acceptance’. Though, at the same time, I cannot visualise a business scenario devoid of innovations since ‘ideas’ are the catalysts of business development and market reach.

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