R. Gopalakrishnan, Author, Corporate Advisor and Distinguished Professor at IIT Kharagpur
How do you assess the impact of an innovation? Consider which of these four innovations has made greatest impact on mankind - invention of anesthesia, synthesis of urea fertilizer, discovery of penicillin or internet / email. The answer depends on how greatly the innovation has been adopted and how much it has changed peoples’ lives.
My answer is ‘No’ if we refer to e-commerce type of start-ups and the time horizon is 10 years. For sure, technology can and will impact, for example, India’s healthcare and education access issues in the long run.
When an organization wants to be more accepting of failure and experimental, what are the barriers? Everyone agrees that breakthrough attempts are essential for innovation and, hence, the risk of failure must be accepted by organizations.
Every species has a natural growth rate, determined by its genetics, metabolism and its environment. Nature frowns on a species grown artificially except within certain limits. Fruit-flies don’t try to become as big as cows, and cows don’t try to become big like elephants.
The two ends of the innovation journey are rich with literature: the early stage, associated with start-ups, emphasizes creativity and cleverness, and the late stage, associated with large companies, emphasizes scaling and discipline. The in-between pathway is scantier in literature-richness.