The Power of Innovation: Hunger Injection, Marico, Making of a Rockstar and BYD

Innovation and entrepreneurship are relatively new fields of study . Before Joseph Schumpeter, innovation and entrepreneurship was not a major part of the scope of economics. Management of resources, demand, supply, labour, capital,  everything affected the economic world, but there was hardly any work on the “idea” that an idea or the vision of one person can bring exponential growth. It’s weird, but true. Schumpeter was the first to argue that entrepreneurship was the driving force of capitalism. From today’s startup obsessed world, it is difficult to imagine that about 60 years back, the world thought very differently about such topics. Thanks Mr Schumpeter 🙂

Then came William Baumol who felt there was still a lot to be said about entrepreneurship and innovation. His “Micro-theory of Innovative Entrepreneurship” established that innovation, especially in small scale companies, has the power to drive exponential growth for the economy as a whole. Do read about his work, it is fascinating.

Then was the time of Clay Christensen and his theory of disruptive innovation . The theory called out that innovation can start at the bottom of a market and work its way up. The theory differentiated between two kinds of innovation, and how both companies and consumers would react to the innovation in business.

One of the newer models of innovation I came across was surprisingly called the Chocolate model of innovation. It differentiates between the 4 parts of innovation, which is the change, the adopters, the change agents and the organisation. It’s a tasty theory 🙂 

One thing we can agree on, is that innovation today exists at the centre point of business strategy and is considered to be the most crucial ingredient of success.  So today we deep dive into the field and look for innovation in fields where you expect to find it, like automobiles, and places where you don’t, like music . I cover four articles through the lens of innovation, but they are not your run of the mill, process improvements. The first one takes us to one of the CPG giants of India and its founder gives us a masterclass on how to keep innovation going, and how to make it successful at scale. We move on the most fascinating of inventions. Could a medicine take your vices and cravings away, and would that be a better world? We then move on to innovation in the business of music. How do you identify the next big artist by looking at the past. A fascinating research in a very exciting field. Last we move on to electric vehicles and the company no one talks about, BYD. Their quiet innovation is taking them very far ahead and they would certainly be a company to follow. 

So, these are the my 4 most interesting reads of the week!

  1. We tend to think of innovation as something done in garages, especially in the Indian context. India by design had to be a country of innovation for businesses to succeed across its diversity , population and size. In this context I’ve always admired Marico as a company. Continuous innovation across packaging, products and products lines has ensured the company has been for years a favourite of the markets. But what I have loved is the way Harsh Mariwala talks about innovation and risk taking. The continuos experimentation and the acceptance of failure as a step to finding the right product market fit. What I did not know before this article was also the commitment to create a new age org from a culture perspective. Some of the ideas presented by Harsh here might sound commonplace in the unicorn on consulting circles, but were and are certainly new for the old school Indian business establishment.  How Marico Keeps on Innovating
  2. Do you feel hunger, craving , hatred, jealousy? What if I could give you an injection and you would never have a craving for chocolate instead. Would you take it?  Wouldn’t you want to give up all of your vices ? Or would you? Today medicine is starting to knock on the doors of craving and hunger. Tomorrow it could do more. But innovation in healthcare, while being the most life changing for humans, needs us to think further. Isn’t craving the very part of being human, isn’t the guilt of succumbing to the dessert, and the feeling of winning over the craving what makes us human? But then again, there is a different perspective, the one I like to call manual vs automatic. People still like the manual just for the “authenticity” even though there is a more convenient option possible. This is my article of the week and certainly an innovation that will change the world. Up to you to decide, whether you would be an early adopter.A New Breed of Medicines to Help you lose weight & Hunger
  3. Can you predict from a list of artists as to who would be the next Elton John and who wouldn’t. Till recently that skill was left to the trained ear at the studios who could identify a rock star from a mile away. But well, if you look at their charts, you would realise that most of the times they were wrong. Innovation in understanding the business of music has been quite limited.  We live in a world where there is an explosion of content and now in this world, we have a model to understand what music might work and what might not. Do read this fascinating piece on how an artist’s success is created by their portfolio before their first hit. It is almost like nature making a pattern to show us that like the iceberg, what drives impact is not what you see on the surface, but what you see below it. Sometimes, the best of business and research articles, tend to take you to a philosophical level. This is one of those. The Finding of a Rockstar
  4. I was surprised by how less I know about BYD. In one line, it is on track to beat Tesla as the world’s biggest EV maker this year. It is surprising how less we know about the company. It is a company that quietly delivers results. BYD started off as a battery maker for mobile phones and over the years transformed into an electric vehicle company. It is a company that has been quietly innovating for years. The parallels with Toyota are surreal to read. It has the power to make EVs the default choice once it launches in other major markets outside USA. No wonder Warren Buffett is a major investor. Tesla vs BYD would be a story of a competition in the same category between two very different players. We will have to see who wins, Loud Exuberance or Quiet Competence. The Quiet Competence of BYD

Thank you for reading.

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