Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fifth India Innovation Summit '09- Day 2- Panel Discussion- 2

The second and the last of the Panel Discussions was themed around 'Role of Innovation in an Economic Downturn'. The panelists were:
  • C E Veni Madhavan, IISc Bangalore
  • Raj Kumar Khatri, Commissioner for Industrial Development & Director of Comm and Ind,
    Government of Karnataka
  • Bharat Kumar, IT Editor, Hindu
  • I Vijaya Kumar, Chief Technology Officer, Wipro Ltd

Veni started by describing the Medici Effect: Which helped start the Renaissance movement in Venice. In Downturn and challenging times creating a confluence of people will help innovation. His key message was that there is also a need for corporate scientific responsibility to come fore and help and nurture research. The benefit will in turn be accelerated innovation that can be leveraged for business benefits.

I Vijayakumar provided the industry/practitioner perspective. He said -Innovation is about inclusiveness. There are typically two kinds we can look at- in-the-box and out-of-the-box innovations. In the box are innovations within the existing environment and systems: innovations around productivity, services and people. Outside the box would be more on customers focused. The greatest challenge for innovation would be to define the problem statement – finding technologies to solve is the next step.
IVK provided an example of an interesting and innovative step in the organization – primarily from a Green perspective and which also resulted in cost takeouts. It was -working out lower power consumption in the labs over the weekends (when consumption is @ 95% but attendance in less than 3%). He described the initial resistance from the lab administrators and the eventual gains.

Bharat Kumar opined that Indians innovate all the time. He gave an example of everyday innovative/ inventive sense in Indians. A vegetable vendor who makes his sales by roaming with his push cart on the streets of Chennai on hot afternoons – takes a different trick of shouting out his wares. While the rest of them shout out the vegetables they have for sale, this vendor shouts out the possible dishes you can make with them. He would scream “Sambar!” and then proceed to narrate all the vegetables you would need to make it!
In effect, he helps the lady of the house visualize all the options she has for the night’s dinner and help her make a choice and come by and make a purchase.

Three key points from the session were:

  • One must be cautious about terming some innovations as mere cost cutting and not recognize them.
  • Tolerance to failure should increase.
  • Leadership is needed. Ability to place people who excel and are passionate will engender innovation.

And that was the end of two eventful days.

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