Who Innovates?


Schumpter first suggested that small entrepreneurial firms were the sources of most innovations. Later he changed his view and suggested that large firms with some degree of monopoly power were more likely to be the sources of technological innovation. He argued that large firms have the production and other complementary assets that are necessary to commercialize an invention; have the size to exploit the economies of scale that are prevalent in R&D; are more diversified and therefore more willing to take the kind of risk that is inherent in R&D projects; have better access to capital that smaller firms; and, as monopolists, do not have competitors ready to imitate their innovations and therefore are more likely to invest in them. By shifting the focus to the type of innovation, however, whether incumbents or new entrants are able to introduce and exploit innovation is a function of whether the innovation is incremental—a function of how new knowledge and the new product are.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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Benefits of Using Teams


Teams are coherent groups of people with complementary skills who work together towards a specified goal. Teams are often the most efficient way of working, and their benefits include:

  1. The members achieving more by working together than they would by working separately or in large, unstructured groups;
  2. Improved motivation and effort;
  3. Flexibility to deal more effectively with change;
  4. More imaginative solutions to new problems; fewer mistakes, as faults are spotted by other members;
  5. Fair division of work, resources and rewards.

Nelson Mandela asked, ‘How can one individual solve the problems of the world? Problems can only be solved if one is part of a team.’ Notice that there is a difference between a team and a group of people who are simply working together. A team is a cohesive set of people who are motivated to achieve common goals. Simply collecting different people does not give a team, as they don’t trust each other, bring along internal politics, don’t share common goals and so on. Twenty people in a room don’t make a team. Team doesn’t just happen. They have to be developed, facilitated and motivated.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Product Specificity


Product specificity means the extent to which the use of a product depends on local socio-technical conditions. This is a function of the type of applications to which the product can be put, its inter-relatedness to other products, the local culture, and government regulation. Cars, for example, would sell better in a large country with a good highway system, space to park cars, good credit systems, and availability of gasoline, than in one without. Such complementary conditions for selling automobiles can be taken for granted in the United States, but not in Nigeria. In some countries, air pollution standards limit the level of pollutants that a car can emit.

Baking foods requires baking ovens, which many households in many countries may not have. Foods that require refrigeration may not do well in countries like Nigeria, where very few people have refrigerators. In the local culture there may be taboos associated with certain products. Local culture can also make some features in local products unnecessary.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Planned Firm Activities


Some innovations come from planned firm activities. This is what many people think about when they think of innovation. A manufacturer invests in R&D and other activities, and out of these investments come new ideas that are nurtured into new products.  A customer, in the normal course of using a product, adds something to the product to make it easier to use. A complementary innovator adds some features to the main product to facilitate the use of its complementary products. Universities and government laboratories, in their normal course of research, hit a breakthrough (such as DNA or the transistor) that firms can build on to offer new products.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Drive for Speed


The ‘time culture’ can impose unrealistic deadlines upon those who are charged with the responsibility for delivering improvements. When a supply chain is improved, the single company may be no more able to achieve a tangible impact upon the external environment than it can deliver all the value that is sought by a final customer. When others are involved, there is likely to be bargaining and negotiation.

Environmental initiatives should not result in the pressure for speed or ‘response’ driving out the long-term thinking that is required. Assuming ‘results’ are required, these might best be achieved as a result of flexibility within the framework of a longer term relationship.

Today’s craze can be tomorrow’s memory. Too many managers assume that trends will continue longer than subsequently turns out to be the case. With many environmental and social policies taking many years to have a significant impact, companies face a dilemma similar to that encountered by those seeking to change attitudes and behavior. By the time the outcomes initially sought have been achieved, the requirement may have changed. Will there be a backlash when people count the costs? Will they become bored?

Attempts to deal with ‘isms’ can open a Pandora’s box of dashed hopes and unfulfilled expectations, especially when initiatives are not thought through. Enough noise may be raised to alarm some, while not enough is done to appease or deliver to others. Companies should beware of cosmetic programs.

Winners assemble a comprehensive, complementary and coordinated set of initiatives, embracing all the parties involved, that are likely to have a significant impact upon an environmental or social issue. They achieve significant changes of attitude or behavior, because all the various change elements that are necessary have been put in place.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Sources of Innovation


The environment constitutes a very important source of innovations. Since tacit technological and market knowledge is best transferred by personal interaction, local environments that are good sources of innovation can make it easier for local firms to recognize the potential of an innovation. Take the presence of related industries. Being close to the supplier or complementary innovators increase the chances of a firm’s being able to pick up useful ideas from them.

Being close to universities or other research institutions helps in two ways. First, these institutions train personnel that can go on to work for firms or found their own companies. The knowledge that they acquire gives them the absorptive capacity to be able to assimilate new ideas from competitors and related industries. Second, scientific publications from the basic research often act as catalyst for investment by firms in applied research.

Finally, governments play a critical role in the ability of firms to recognize the potential of innovations. Their role can be direct or indirect. The direct role may be in the sponsoring of research. The indirect role is in regulation and taxation: lower capital gains taxes or other regulations that allow firms to keep more of what they make can allow them to spend more on innovation.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Functional Sources of Innovation


There are five major sources of innovation for a firm: 1) its own internal value chain functions, 2) its external value-added chain of suppliers, customers, and complementary innovators, 3) university, government, and private laboratories, 4) competitors and related industries, and 5) other nations or regions.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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