Innovation Weekly: Necessity, Market Enablement and Agility
06 Oct 2017

Innovation Weekly: Necessity, Market Enablement and Agility

06 Oct 2017

Necessity is indeed mother of invention—regardless of resources, study shows

This article addresses a common misconception that people who live in extremely low resource environments are unable to create impactful innovation. The whole article is based on a case study research by the University of Notre Dame and Lulea University of Technology, which focuses on the concept and impact of “jugaad”—literally means “hack” in Hindi. Jugaad or “frugal innovation” is a concept prevalent in India where resources are scarce. The whole concept of jugaad relies on what the researcher called as “assertive defiance”, an unwillingness to be limited by the lack of resources, thinking, and behavior. The types of innovation that come out of these resource-scarce environment are so unique that it can only be thought out of scarcity and necessity, useful daily innovation from a natural water cooler to a gas-based water pump.

Innovation Requires Market Enablement

Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it requires an ecosystem where competition is widespread. However, as the market segment becomes mature, key players will dominate and begin to limit the movement of their competitors. Eventually, smaller players will only end up getting acquired by market leaders. This is not ideal for innovation.

The article argues that instead of controlling the market, market leaders should enable the market, by sharing technologies (IPs) and enabling competition. In this way, they can influence the market even further, and also grow their market segments. One good example of this is the smartphone industry where more than 200,000 active patents are shared and innovation is flourishing. New market segments in IoT, AR, VR, autonomous vehicles, deep learning, and AI should also follow suit.

The Case Against Agility

This article attempts to persuade readers to be caution against agility, first-mover advantage, and minimum viable product. Agility can be good in volatile times, but may be counterproductive in complex and uncertain situations. The first-mover advantage is an outright myth; giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook weren’t the first to market. MVP is simply not viable for high tech companies, such as GE, or Boeing.

As a conclusion, the author offers three suggestions of how we can improve the way we create products and services. Firstly, ask these two questions: “If we are wrong, how quickly can we fix this and at what cost?” and “What’s our policy for testing the core idea at each stage?”; secondly, create simple messages to make your case; and thirdly, search for the “just right” middle between speed and tardiness.

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