When is the last time when something ‘itched’ you and how did you react to it? Blame somebody or something, be cynical and decided to move on OR did you feel ‘enough is enough’? If you belong to the group of people with the latter reaction, you have that trait that is widely spoken of but seldom practiced called Innovation. Innovation, defined simply, is the cycle of ‘encountering a problem’ deciding not to live with it designing an alternative which either alleviates or eliminates the situation. Differentiated innovations in terms of benefit or cost are called Disruptions and hence I-Phones disrupted phones with complicated interface and AirBnB did the same to the expensive hotel industry.
The science of innovation fundamentally hasn’t changed over the years. The big companies of today started at one point in time as ‘start-ups’; developed product or service through standard process of iteration with consumers; once ready, launched it in a limited geography; expanded distribution through physical expansion and awareness through standard media of TV, radio and Billboards. Each process was painfully physical, slow and expensive. As business grew, so did the need for resources to fuel the business. Evolutionary development (almost like nature) followed where every next generation solution of the same product or service would be marginally better. Thus the two necessary conditions for innovations were time and resources only possible through institutions rather than individuals.
So what’s changed to fuel this sudden wave of innovations led by individual start-ups? The answer lies in the phenomena of Compression of Time!! Massively enabled by technology, most activities which took years are down to real-time (real-time feedback from consumers, unlimited reach through online, accessibility to global expertise). This means suddenly, given the right level of resource support, a sizeable business which used to take decades can be built in years. What this means is now suddenly innovation is possible at individual level and given that there are more individuals than institutions in this world, what we see is proliferation of Innovations and Disruptions!!!!
So while one pre-condition of innovation has been solved, it still needs significant understanding of business and financial resources to scale up any start-up and in my view, that what makes the connection of Start-ups with big established companies very interesting. Give way to super-acceleration of ideas!!!
Vivek Sirohi- “ Deodorants R&D VP “