Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Biz School Chronicles - Week 08

After a  break of several weeks, which were spent mostly preparing for presentations and presenting, I finally came across something worth sharing. I'm not implying that the previous weeks were worthless, but then again, who would want to read how to do statistics? Go buy a book. But I digress.

Where?: Lecture, Management Process and Organizational Behavior

What?: "The Difference Between Invention and Innovation"

Why?: When this question was asked, most were under the impression that both were the same or similar in nature, which is a wrong assumption. It is true that invention is important, the whole patent system is about protecting inventions. But history testifies that most companies who invented and idea were never able to capitalize on it. It was always others, who innovated and built on whatever the idea invented, that ended up making money.

The example taken were the Japanese. They never really invented any of the things that generated bulks of revenue for them. The TV, Cars, CD players etc etc., were all invented somewhere else. But they were good 'innovators'. They made the TV more visually appealing and user enticing and converted it to a household item. They made cars cheaper and accessible to the average consumer and later went on to make them fuel efficient and greener.

I started suggesting to the lecturer about 'management processes' and immediately found out that none of those were invented there either. Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing and even Just In Time (JIT) were invented elsewhere in the world. But they mastered it and innovated to such and extent that today it gives the false impression that those were invented by them.

The lesson to learn is that the initial inventor might not necessarily be the one to make something valuable. The real winner is the company that makes something (either invented by them or others) valuable. Those are the companies that will win in this market driven economy.

An ingenious invention is nothing without the innovator, who makes it valuable to consumers.