The Japanese, the European and the Indians

R: The Brand manager, who just wants to do his job without too much fuss

N: The Japanese consultant

P: The European consultant

E: Junior research scientist

V: Head-Sales

M: Head – Company

J: Head – Sales and Marketing

A: M’s head who always tries to help, mostly in vain

/ Scene: Innovation Meeting at the Bored Room ; R has just finished making a 2 hour long presentation backed by a lot of detailed analysis /

R: So that is the idea we have for the new product

N: What ees neew about eet? Where ees the innovation? I have spent the last fifteen years of my life repeating the fact that innovation is everything!

R: Sir, P suggested that we do a thorough market research and understand exactly what our target market is using. We used an extensive sample size to arrive at the product oncept that has the best chance of being accepted by the mass.

N: (looks pointedly at P; if he were wearing small framed glasses, he might have actually managed to look over it)

P: (hurriedly looking up rom his FB page and smiling a bit over enthusiastically at everyone in the room) uh!… Eh…! So where are we on this now?

R: Sir, N feels the product concept which we have worked on is not innovative enough.

P: Yeah, absolutely! I agree with him. Innovation is a must.

N: (Transfers his piercing gaze to R)

R: Sir, I just followed the extensive procedure you had laid out, and even shared the interim findings wi…

P: (fixes R with a stony smile) R, every procedure is a slave of the business need and a tail should never wag a dog, like a wing of a bird is only an aid to flight and cannot be an ornament that  retards the speed of flight. I think you have still not read my last book on the topic.

E: Gentlemen, in that case, we can look at my patented technology which has been lying unutilised for the last 3 years. It will make us the pioneer in the market with the advanced feature.

R: E, we discussed that. Its too…

N: (pounces up from his seat and lands on the desk with his backside) That ees eet. That ees eennovation.

P: Brilliant!

R: Well, in that case, I will change the concept right here. Everyone is here so we can have a buy-in and move ahead. We are already delayed on the timelines.

N: (hops off the table and addresses his secretary) Does that complete our deliverable?

G: (Checks her diary) Guidance for innovative product concept development is what you had committed.

N: Veree well gentlemen. I must be going now. (Disappears before anyone has a chance to react)

R: So, that’s the idea we have for the new product.

V: (breaks out of his fossilized hibernation) Isn’t that too risky?

R: It’s innovative! So that does carry an element of risk.

V: Just don’t expect any immediate sale from this. I don’t see this setting the market on fire.

R: (looks around for support)

J: (Gives the classic fore-finger on the chin, gaze up at the ceiling that reaffirms his reputation of never committing himself prematurely)

M: (Looks on with the benevolent gaze of a fight promoter who makes more money the bloodier the fights)

A: (Coming to R’s rescue) We need to decide one way or the other whether we want innovation or a me-too.

P: (with all the condescension that has carried him to the pinnacle of his career) A, let us not be simplistic. There is a difference between being simple and being simplistic. A meringue that gives up its first prey to chase the fleeting footasque has a back-up in the branch. Innovation that is de-risked is what we as a, .. you as a team need to deliver.

V: Yeah! Professor is right!

M: P, I think the way you bring in examples from the animal world to bring out complex principles of management never fails to amaze me. I remain in eternal awe.

R: So what are we going to do next?

J: R, I have been telling you, we need to do a lot more work on this. Go back the market. COllect more data. Discuss with R&D. Brainstorm. Make multiple models. Create alternative scenarios. We need to be far more robust about the way we go about innovation here.

P: I couldn’t agree more.

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