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R. Gopalakrishnan, the bestselling author of The Case of the Bonsai Manager, explores how concepts turn into ideas, which then become prototypes, models and products. Defining thought as the ancestor of innovation; as without thought, there could be no innovation, he explores the impending questions such as - What happens next? How can you take on challenges and keep your ideas relevant? The Biography of Innovation is the definitive book on the life cycle of new ideas and transformations.
Is “Innovation” really increasing in the world? Is it the new buzzword? If so, is that good or bad? When the common man thinks of innovation, names like Apple, Google and the like come to mind. Why are there no such names from India’s mighty corporations? Whatever cynics might say, buzz creates value as it changes language and culture, which is important in social transformation.
 

The 8 Stages of ideas and innovations

We can visualize the biography of ideas and innovations through eight life stages, which appears as eight chapters in this book. These stages do not bear literal parallels to biological phases.
I. Fertilization: A Concept Gets Fertilized in the Brain

Much drama is associated with how a concept strikes roots in the brain. It has been eulogized as being a flash, an epiphany or a sign of genius. The reality’ however’ is that the brain neurons are active all the time. For most of the time, their signals are not in symphony, but once every so often, through what appears to be random process, there is a coming together of the chaotic signals in the brain. This can be thought to be the formation of a concept. However a concept is as interesting and valuable as a foetus. Much remains for the concept to be delivered to the world as an idea.

II. Birth: An Idea Is Born Out of This Concept

The transformation of an embryo into a baby can be likened to the transformation of a brain concept into a human idea. Think of Valmiki describing the flying vehicle, Pushpaka Vimana, or Da Vinci’s sketches of flying machines, long before the Wright brothers actually flew a plane.

Four factors-- serendipity, growth mind-set, associative thinking and disciplined thought leaders to face new challenges in its life journey to stimulate the brain.


III. Infancy: A Prototype That Expresses the Idea

Just as babies grow into becoming infants between birth and the age of five, ideas develop into demonstration prototypes in the period after a concept has been articulated as an idea. Open mindedness, curiosity and calibrated risk taking are great assets during this stage as also the instinct to recover from setbacks.

IV. Childhood: A Model Shaped Out of This Prototype

Just as the growth from age 5 till 15 is crucial in human development, the nurturing of the demonstration prototype into working market models is very crucial. During this phase, things can go quite awry for the innovator. Learning from failure, endless adaptation, coping with opposition and refining the innovation story constitute the recipe to surpass the challenges of this stage of innovation.


V. Adolescence: A Product Shaped from This Model

From adolescence into young adulthood, the human being faces a different set of challenges. So does the innovation. During this phase, execution takes centre stage and it has to be disciplined; the innovator must learn to balance being early into the market and yet being thorough in following all protocols. At this Stage the innovator’s belief on luck rises dramatically.

VI. Young Adult: The Product Competes to Grow

As young adulthood transits to maturity for a human being, the innovation now faces the realities of the market place. The emphasis moves from technology and product to processes and skills—business process, social skills and networking skills.


VII. Maturity: Challenged to Change

In the popular narrative, there are thought to be exciting innovations, exciting innovation areas and exciting innovators. In reality there is a plethora of contemporary problems that attract innovators, innovative ideas and new technologies. Even apparently old and staid areas like agriculture, sanitation, retailing and hotel keeping are brimming with innovation possibilities. The innovative spirit is in the practitioner’s mind, not in the object.

VIII. Ageing: The Struggle for Relevance Epilogue Notes

Did our ancestors lead a leisurely life as we imagine they did? Not really. Life was very fast- paced for each generation as they faced their challenges with the tools available to them at that time. The truth of the matter is that we judge the pace of change by the changes compared to our past. The changes should in reality be compared with the tools available to cope with the change. The tools too are changing. It is the gap between the pace of change and the tools to cope with the change that matters—and, I suspect, the gap might well be constant!



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The 8 Stages of ideas and innovations

We can visualize the biography of ideas and innovations through eight life stages, which appears as eight chapters in this book. These stages do not bear literal parallels to biological phases.
I. Fertilization: A Concept Gets Fertilized in the Brain

Much drama is associated with how a concept strikes roots in the brain. It has been eulogized as being a flash, an epiphany or a sign of genius. The reality’ however’ is that the brain neurons are active all the time. For most of the time, their signals are not in symphony, but once every so often, through what appears to be random process, there is a coming together of the chaotic signals in the brain. This can be thought to be the formation of a concept. However a concept is as interesting and valuable as a foetus. Much remains for the concept to be delivered to the world as an idea.

II. Birth: An Idea Is Born Out of This Concept

The transformation of an embryo into a baby can be likened to the transformation of a brain concept into a human idea. Think of Valmiki describing the flying vehicle, Pushpaka Vimana, or Da Vinci’s sketches of flying machines, long before the Wright brothers actually flew a plane.

Four factors-- serendipity, growth mind-set, associative thinking and disciplined thought leaders to face new challenges in its life journey to stimulate the brain.


III. Infancy: A Prototype That Expresses the Idea

Just as babies grow into becoming infants between birth and the age of five, ideas develop into demonstration prototypes in the period after a concept has been articulated as an idea. Open mindedness, curiosity and calibrated risk taking are great assets during this stage as also the instinct to recover from setbacks.

IV. Childhood: A Model Shaped Out of This Prototype

Just as the growth from age 5 till 15 is crucial in human development, the nurturing of the demonstration prototype into working market models is very crucial. During this phase, things can go quite awry for the innovator. Learning from failure, endless adaptation, coping with opposition and refining the innovation story constitute the recipe to surpass the challenges of this stage of innovation.


V. Adolescence: A Product Shaped from This Model

From adolescence into young adulthood, the human being faces a different set of challenges. So does the innovation. During this phase, execution takes centre stage and it has to be disciplined; the innovator must learn to balance being early into the market and yet being thorough in following all protocols. At this Stage the innovator’s belief on luck rises dramatically.

VI. Young Adult: The Product Competes to Grow

As young adulthood transits to maturity for a human being, the innovation now faces the realities of the market place. The emphasis moves from technology and product to processes and skills—business process, social skills and networking skills.


VII. Maturity: Challenged to Change

In the popular narrative, there are thought to be exciting innovations, exciting innovation areas and exciting innovators. In reality there is a plethora of contemporary problems that attract innovators, innovative ideas and new technologies. Even apparently old and staid areas like agriculture, sanitation, retailing and hotel keeping are brimming with innovation possibilities. The innovative spirit is in the practitioner’s mind, not in the object.

VIII. Ageing: The Struggle for Relevance Epilogue Notes

Did our ancestors lead a leisurely life as we imagine they did? Not really. Life was very fast- paced for each generation as they faced their challenges with the tools available to them at that time. The truth of the matter is that we judge the pace of change by the changes compared to our past. The changes should in reality be compared with the tools available to cope with the change. The tools too are changing. It is the gap between the pace of change and the tools to cope with the change that matters—and, I suspect, the gap might well be constant!



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Reviews

December 14, 2017

Book reviews of ‘A Biography of Innovations: From Birth to Maturity’ and ‘India as a Pioneer of Innovation

Published on 7th October 2017, BUSINESS STANDARD

When I think of innovation Winston Churchill’s observation about Russia, made in a radio broadcast in October 1939, comes to mind