FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF’s DESK…
Decoding innovation and sustainability
Anywhere one goes today, every company talks about two directions – innovation and sustainability… these two words have become so repetitive that sometimes it almost sounds like a slogan to promote the company.
Just how much does the industry really understand these two concepts is my concern. Are companies fooling themselves or are the directions backed by an honest intent to be different?
Is innovation about replicating designs and concepts already in the market or is there any effort to create fresh ideas? How different is innovation from product development and R&D…or is there a difference?
Similarly, just how sustainable are the directions taken to be sustainable in the eyes of the buyer? Can planting a few trees in the factory and giving workers’ wages on time be considered as sustainable initiatives?
After talking to many exporters, I have concluded that both these terms are loosly used and only few really delve into the meaning and long-term implications of these widely used terms.
How many companies can actually claim to be doing breakthrough innovations that are truly different… Some years ago, the product development head at one of the top export houses shared with me that product development in India is a farce, all we do is give variations to designs shown by the buyer.
After many years, something similar was again said to me… it got me thinking. Is the ability to turnaround a popular design with a new twist, innovation? Look at the cold-shoulder trend which swept every market in the world… how different can one really be?
There is a logic in turning around a popular design, print, technique, silhouette and it is the commercial aspect of doing any business. No one expects a company to be innovative in the dictionary sense, because innovation comes from the masters of the trade… the established designers and trendsetters… innovation for others is how well they can interpret and present a variation.
A variation that will bring in business and result in economic sustenance, which is the essence of the next misinterpreted concept - sustainability… how good would innovation be if it did not sell!
Sustainability is a huge concept and practically every company has given it an individual definition, a definition that can give the company an image which is acceptable to global business as being a ‘concerned’ company.
In my understanding, ‘true sustainability’ is when good practices that are environment and people-friendly are used to manufacture products that are again environment and people- friendly, and in the process the company is able to make profits!
Sustainability is not about spending money but investing in the future, the future of our generations and adding value to the lives of the people who walk together in this journey with us.