Monday, June 15, 2009

Fifth India Innovation Summit '09- Day 1- Session-3

The final session of the day was around the theme of- 'Indian Innovations & Global Footprints'. Opening address was by Jatin Desai, the Co-Founder and CEO of The DeSai Group. He spoke about the imperative of innovation for a sustainable future. The six skills identified for the future are: Discovery; Creativity; Purposeful Implementation; Influence; Mindful Play Action; and Spiritual Integrity. Drawing insight from this long career, he suggested that typically these are four sources of ideas, viz.
  • Internal, planned – 20% ( strategy, mkt research)
  • External, planned - 5% ( industry studies, consultants)
  • Internal, unplanned– 30% ( adhoc, incremental )
  • External, unplanned – 45% ( customers, suppliers, competition )

A brilliant context setting!

The speakers for this leg of the event were:

  • K Venkataramanan, Member of the Board & President- E&C Projects, L&T
  • Ashwini Kakkar, Executive Vice Chairman, Mercury Travels
  • M K Shankarlinge Gowda, Secretary - Transport Department, Government of Karnataka

K Venkataramanan provided an overview of how innovation is managed in the short-term and long term in L&T. How the practices were driven down from senior leadership - a tracking mechanism was put in place. How it was important to rope-in the good performers into the innovation life cycle. Top management consultants (external) were used to articulate needs and innovation plans. One key aspect that came up was that for L&T - where it wants to be in next 5 years, one key dearth will be leadership. So one of the innovations was to define a process, find top performers and give them a road map that would ready them for leadership. L&T took this exercise to have leaders ready in the next 5 years and then next 7/8 years time frames (2 sets of leaders).
One other challenge in engendering innovation is to create a culture shift where all recognize that the young and performing people will quickly become leaders and hence there is a need to move from traditional seniority based leadership. At the same time, one must explore ways to retain the experience and loyalty of the senior employees. So L&T has worked hard to strike a balance between these two aspects.

Ashwini opined that the economic downturn has brought the following behaviour to the forefront – Cheaper, Closer, Shorter and Later in tourism/travel industry. They want to travel cheaper, to closer destinations, for shorter durations and decide at the last minute (later/delayed decision making). He talked about the various innovative trends adopted by the industry to reach out and service customers – Online, Buzz, high touch/low touch services, iPhone apps, buzz marketing, etc.

M K Shankarlinge Gowda depicted some of the innovations done in the government – specifically in the KSRTC. By connecting very well with the audience and addressing some of their queries, he was able to built a rapt audience. Some of the innovations introduced in the recent past are: Introduction of new buses; Electronic ticket issues; AWATAR system; Introduction of a single ticket concept in phases; Increasing use of IT; GPS already installed in buses – plans to extend it to users via SMS; Though the Airport buses occupancy is low, the buses effectively reduce 6000 cars from using that road; New types of bus stands being started – park at the bus stand and take the bus to work; and Green fuels being explored – ethanol etc .

A well poised session with contribution coming in from allied industries and audience.

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