A biog­ra­phy of in­no­va­tions: from birth to ma­tu­rity

The Smart Manager - - Reading Room - By r gopalakr­ish­nan

In the pre­ced­ing chap­ters, ideas and in­no­va­tion were hu­man­ized by view­ing the in­no­va­tor, his or her work and the ap­pli­ca­tion ar­eas which en­gaged the in­no­va­tor—through the in­no­va­tor’s eyes. It was in this way that in­no­va­tion was pos­tu­lated to have stages of life, much like a hu­man be­ing. The stages of life are not about the prod­uct only but also about the in­no­va­tor as a per­son. Prod­ucts do have their own stages of life, pop­u­larly called prod­uct life-cy­cle.

In the con­text of this book, the stages of life are about the go­ing­son from an in­no­va­tor’s per­spec­tive and through the lenses that the in­no­va­tor is us­ing. This makes it eas­ier to un­der­stand why in­no­va­tors feel pro­pri­etary emo­tions for their in­no­va­tion and idea, just as a par­ent ex­pe­ri­ences pos­ses­sive emo­tions for his or her child.

There ex­ist many pop­u­lar per­cep­tions. For ex­am­ple, some peo­ple are more in­no­va­tive than oth­ers, or some fields and ap­pli­ca­tions lend them­selves more to in­no­va­tion than other fields, or that some tech­nolo­gies are in­her­ently more ex­cit­ing than oth­ers. Steve Jobs is re­ported to have ex­pressed the view, ‘It is a dis­ease to think that a re­ally great idea is 90 per cent of the work.’ Jobs ar­gued that an idea has no value un­til it con­verts into a prod­uct man­i­fes­ta­tion through what he called crafts­man­ship, which is what stands be­tween a great idea and a great prod­uct. The idea turns, twists, mu­tates and changes all the time as it is be­ing con­verted into a prod­uct. In this process of in­no­va­tion, nov­elty and con­sumer de­light are added. The fi­nal prod­uct may bear lit­tle re­sem­blance to the orig­i­nal idea.

Con­sider, for ex­am­ple, the Ara­bian penin­sula. Be­fore I went to live and work in Ara­bia in the 1990s, I had al­ready vis­ited the re­gion in the 1970s. Dubai was a non­de­script habi­ta­tion in the mid­dle of the desert. I would never have vis­ited Dubai or Abu Dhabi were it not for the fact that I had work to do there, and also be­cause it en­abled me to buy a few odds and ends for the fam­ily in im­port-starved In­dia! When I read about the ruler’s vi­sions and ideas, it all seemed fan­ci­ful and dreamy. Yet, fifty years later, in 2015, the Dubai In­ter­na­tional Air­port sur­passed Lon­don’s Heathrow with its 78 mil­lion pas­sen­gers. Dubai is a ma­jor hub for air trav­ellers. The

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