(asks DK Matai a global risk specialist)
Robert Tucker on innovation:
'If you don't innovate, someone else will'
innovation is the process of coming up with ideas and bringing them to life. Any time you come up with an idea and implement it, you have essentially innovated. Not all ideas are commercially viable but, nevertheless, they are innovations.In business, the commercial viability of an innovation is of supreme importance.
in a corporate scenario, innovation is essentially of three types:
- Product innovations, like the i-Pod or Post-It notes
- Process innovation, when you come up with a new process that reduces time or cost or makes you reach from point A to point B faster: Toyota and Tata are continuously making process innovations.
- Strategy innovation: Air Deccan, for instance. A couple of years ago it looked at low-cost airlines across the world, picked some of the best practices, and then made itself.
the time between your implementing an idea and it being copied by competitors is the real life span of an innovation.
The story of Kevlar
Ideas can be implemented badly or they may be not be commercially viable, but there is nothing called "bad" innovation. Many times, an idea may be just ahead of its time.For instance, DuPont invented Kevlar, which is 10 times stronger than steel, many, many years ago. At the time tyre manufacturers, who were approached with the product, were not very keen. The product was not used for many years, until the company found new uses for it. Today, Kevlar is used by people who work with glass, oyster-opening gloves are made of Kevlar, armies and police personnel around the world use Kevlar vests, embassies of many nations have Kevlar curtains draped on their walls... So Kevlar was not a bad innovation. It was just not used correctly.A company is the result of its ideas. When the leadership shows serious intent for innovation, it percolates to all levels and you build a culture of innovation. Behaviour that gets rewarded gets repeated.