Invisible Innovation


In his popular TED Video of Prof Nirmalya Kumar talks about making India as Innovation hub. He brings out how the Indians and the Indian centers of global organizations are working on cutting edge innovations. These innovations may not pass as Indian Innovations, but the contribution of Indians can not be undermined. Add to it the innovations that are being done right here on Indian soil. He talks about Innovation labs in silicon valley being headed by Indians who have been educated in India. He talks about Innovations happening in India centers of the large multi-national corporations. Then, why don’t see se India on the Global Innovation Map?

He brings out an important distinction between Visible & Invisible Innovation – i.e. Innovation that the end user can touch and feel and the whole set of Innovations that go behind the scenes to make the visible innovation happen. Later outnumber the former by many times. Invisible innovations happen in labs and may not directly reach the marketing outreach programs of the final product. He puts Invisible Innovations into four categories

  1. Business Innovations
  2. Outsourcing Innovations
  3. Process Innovations
  4. Management Innovations

While sometimes the boundaries of these may blend, but it is important to understand that lot of so called ‘innovation’ is being done right here that this is not limited to only IT companies, other industries like Pharmaceuticals etc also are a part of it.

It is important that people like him bring these out as this is not evident intuitively.

Some questions that I have:

  1. Do we have to be Innovative as it is seen by the west?
  2. Do we have to be innovative for the sake of being innovative?
  3. Should Innovations not be in response to the needs?
  4. Is it more important to be known for Innovation or to be able to solve problems as and when they occur – that ability to be able to think as the circumstances demand?

Share your thoughts.


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