Design!publiC Panel Discussion 1: Innovation and the Indian Corporation

11:02 Samar ends with a last word about the “hot new” mousetrap in Bangalore – simply a sticky pad. No bad Karma involved.

11:00 Harish Bijoor answers saying that Indian corporations are not innovative or risk-taking, but Indian society is.

11:00 A participant talks about how the main challenge is that we are a risk-averse society. We don’t believe in taking huge risks; we don’t create spaces where people with multiple ideas and multiple ways of thinking are encouraged.

10:58 Mahesh Murthy says that it’s not about being new old, it’s about being different. And sometimes being different is being old. The important thing is the difference.

10:56 Krishnan talks about how there is always a back and forth between innovation and design. If you come up with an innovative idea, the next step is to design.

10:53 M.P. Ranjan talks about Design, and wonders if the assumption that Innovation is always about something new, while Design on the other hand, can also be about reviving something old. Is innovation unsustainable?

10:52 A participant talks about the innovation equation, as in innovation = invention + commercialization. Does it always have to be about money?, he asks. Shouldn’t there be more to innovation than just business?

10:48 Samar talks about public service companies like Bus services — are these companies actually doing something innovative? Or are they simply doing what they’re supposed to be doing? For us it might seem innovative, but for someone from Bogota, where they already have the BRT, it would not really appear innovative. Something to consider.

10:46 Mahesh Murthy talks about how innovation coming from real needs and lacks is usually more innovative and meaningful than someone sitting a comfortable office in a large company.

10:45 A participant asks if the conversation can be moved away from IT companies – how can such companies also innovate for the public good?

10:43 Amit Pande talks about how the mKrishi program shows how large companies can take the lead in collaborating with different players – the farmer, the IT company etc.

10:40 Amit Pande talks about how innovation from both the “bottom” and the “top” have their own value.

10:37 Harish talks about how innovation is often a dogtag that companies employ to get a bigger market share. Compares innovation in India to innovation in the West: the small-town innovator where innovation happens at the bottom, while in the West innovation often comes from the top. When you are hungry, you innovate. In large companies, people have forgotten hunger.

10:35 Samar questions whether Mahesh is unfairly damning the corporations. Aren’t any of the so-called innovation labs all over the country actually producing something of value?

10:32 Mahesh Murthy talks about how innovation is a necessity for start-ups. If you have a new idea, like the RedBus – if you’re not big — innovation comes from necessity, like Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.

10.27: Harish Bijoor talks about the mousetrap and what entails ‘real’ innovation.

10.24: Giving the example of mKrishi, which is a mobile platform for farmers. It didn’t come out of an idea of doing something for farmers; but rather we saw a business opportunity within this, where farmers needed important information on pests, weather, crops etc. and saw that ICTs could be used for this.

10.21: Krishnan of Infosys talks about an equation of innovation; innovation = invention + commercialization

10.20: Harish Bijoor: Innovation is a discipline, not a gimmick.

Anand Mahindra made waves recently when he talked about the absence of any real culture of cutting edge innovation in India. Is he right? How should we understand innovation? Is any kind of new service or money-making scheme an example of innovation? Would they, for instance, be in the same league with the kinds of things Steve Jobs became famous for creating? Where are we with India’s innovation story and where is it going?

This first panel at the Design Public Conclave is being anchored by Samar Halankar of the Hindustan Times and Mint Newspapers. Participants in this conversation include Mahesh Murthy, Arun Pande, the mind behind mKrishi, launched by Tata Consulting Services, and cross-domain brand consultant Harish Bijoor. Ekta Ohri of the Center for Knowledge Societies is the respondent for this session, bringing her experience and knowledge of architecting a culture of innovation within organizations.

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