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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Product Development Process


The product development process involves analysis of the marketplace, the buyer, the company’s capabilities, and the economic potential of new product ideas. This process may be both expensive and time consuming. To accelerate the process, many companies create multidisciplinary teams so that manufacturing and marketing plans can be developed in tandem while the product is being designed.

  1. Generation and Screening of Ideas: The first step is to come up with ideas that will satisfy unmet needs. A producer may get new product ideas from its own employees or from external consultants, it may simply adapt a competitor’s idea, or it may buy the rights to someone else’s invention. Customers are often the best source of new product ideas.
  2. Business Analysis: A product idea that survives the screening stage is subjected to a business analysis. At this point the question is: Can the company make enough money on the product to justify the investment? To answer this question, companies forecast the probable sales of the product, assuming various pricing strategies. In addition, they estimate the costs associated with various levels of production. Given these projections, the company calculates the potential cash flow and return on investment that will be achieved if the product is introduced.
  3. Prototype Development: The next step is generally to create and test a few samples, or prototypes, of the product, including its packaging. During this stage, the various elements of the marketing mix are put together. In addition, the company evaluates the feasibility of large-scale production and specifies the resources required to bring the product to market.
  4. Product Testing: During the product testing stage, a small group of consumers actually use the product, often in comparison tests with existing products. If the results are good, the next step is test marketing, introducing the product in selected areas of the country and monitoring consumer reactions. Test marketing makes the most sense in cases where the cost of marketing a product far exceeds the cost of developing it.
  5. Commercialization: The final stage of development is commercialization, the large-scale production and distribution of those products that have survived the testing process. This phase requires the coordination of many activities—manufacturing, packaging, distribution, pricing and promotion. A classic mistake is letting marketing get out of phase with production so that the consumer is primed to buy the product before the company can supply it in adequate quantity. A mistake of this sort can be costly, because competitors may be able to jump in quickly. Many companies roll out their new products generally, going from one geographic area to the next. This enables them to spread the costs of launching the product over a longer period and to refine their strategy as the rollout proceeds.

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.

Intellectual Property


The most valuable resource in the modern economy is the human mind. The ideas, concepts, and other symbolic creations of the human mind are referred to as intellectual property. Intellectual property is protected through a number of special laws and public policies including copyright, patent, and trademark laws. These laws rest on two essential premises:

  • The creator, be it a person or an organization, of an idea or invention should be entitled to the benefits that flow from that original creation if it can be proved that the creation came from that person or organization.
  • The right to get special economic advantage from such inventions should not exist forever. At some point, ideas enter the public domain and can be used by others.

In today’s global economy, many temptations can arise for businesses and individuals to use other people’s ideas without permission. Patents, copyrights, and other intellectual property are sometimes infringed, or wrongfully used, by those who see an opportunity for quick profit, a practice known as commercial piracy.

A great deal of pirating occurs in industries such as computer software and hardware, industrial machinery, printing and publishing, and designer clothing. Because some governments do not curb such practices, businesses that create ideas are injured.

In coming decades, many new ideas will be developed and commercially exploited in such fields as bioengineering, computer software, fiber optics, and medicine, to name a few. In a global economy, these forms of intellectual property are economically valuable. A society that is scientifically and artistically creative has a big stake in laws that protect the companies that create new ideas. The employees who work for those companies have an important stake in the fair use of intellectual property, as do customers who license the technology or buy the products. A growing challenge for public policy and international trade negotiations is how to coordinate national laws protecting intellectual property rights.

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.

Rethinking Organization’s Infrastructure


An architect’s work requires more than site selection and structural design. A building also has an infrastructure, a complex and sometimes invisible web of systems that work together to make the building functional and livable. These include the mundane heating, electrical, plumbing, and air circulation systems, as well as the essential channels for people movement and telecommunication hookup.

Infrastructure is not just an add-on. The development of new technologies that provide efficient solar heating also required architects to consider a new set of factors when siting a building. Just as the invention of the elevator paved the way for today’s concrete and steel skyscrapers, some new organizational concepts and technologies are needed to make horizontally oriented structures workable and vacuum free.

The organizational infrastructure needs to make the new corporation work. Issues such as the hierarchy of reporting relations, the career structures they imply, and the middle managers who populate must be considered, along with ways to rethink control and coordination so that new learning, rather than resigned compliance, is produced.

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, Line of Sight

Innovation Defined


Innovation is the use of new knowledge to offer a new product or service that customers want. It is invention together with commercialization. It is a new way of doing things (termed invention by some) that is commercialized. The process of innovation cannot be separated from a firm’s strategic and competitive context. The new knowledge can be technological or market related. Technological knowledge is knowledge of components, linkages between components, methods, processes, and techniques that go into a product or service. Market knowledge is knowledge of distribution channels, product applications, and customer expectations, preferences, needs, and wants. The product or service is new in that its cost is lower, its attributes are improved, it now has new attributes, it never had before, or it never existed in that market before. Often the new product or service itself is called an innovation, reflecting the fact that it is the creation of new technological or market knowledge.

Innovation has also been defined as the adoption of ideas that are new to the organization. Generating good ideas or adopting a new one, in and of itself, is only a start. To be an innovation, an idea must be converted into a product or service that customers want. Coming up with the idea or prototype—invention—is one thing. Championing it, shepherding it, and nurturing it into a product or service that customers want is another. Innovation entails both invention and commercialization.

A distinction has also been made between technical and administrative innovation. Technical innovation is about improved products, services, or processes or completely new ones. This contrasts with administrative innovation, which pertains to organizational structure and administrative processes and may or may not affect technical innovation. Technical innovation may or may not require administrative innovation. A technical innovation can be a product or a process.

Product innovations are new products or services introduced to meet an external and market need whereas process innovations are new elements introduced into an organization’s production or service operations—input materials, task specifications, work and information flow mechanisms, and equipment used to produce a product or render a service.

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 contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight