Innovation for many is a subjective word which cannot be measured and can be best described as doing something different. For manufacturing companies, innovation mostly means introducing new products to increase sales.
And then there is the Erehwon way to innovation. An 18-year old organisation, Erehwon started small by introducing its programme that encouraged ‘creating thinkers’ in schools. The programme slowly moved from schools to working for companies like Asian Paints, ESPN-STAR Sports, Gillette, Hero Honda, Hewlett Packard, Hindustan Lever, Hutch, IBM, ITC, Bharti Televenture, Marico Industries, Motorola, Philips, and Wipro, among others.
Bhupendra Sharma, Director and Senior Strategy Consultant, Erehwon, said, “Our focus on research is very strong and we believe that small steps to innovation also result in radical returns. There are brands like Fair and Lovely and Divya Bhaskar who are wonderful examples of being globally unique brands.”
Erehwon’s key focus is to get global recognition to Indian companies by helping them move up the value chain. For Sharma, innovation is not about growing the business to get better returns, but shifting the orbit altogether.
He said, “If a company wants to innovate, it should change the fundamentals that it has been working on. We help companies realise that innovation does not mean manufacturing new products or introducing new services. The change has to happen at the very core of the organisation and should start with a change in the mindset. Innovation is a holistic change in a company’s management, ecosystem and belief system.”
Commenting on the ways that companies can be innovative, Sharma said, “There are certain ways like subtly introducing the fear factor, creating new desires and the making top management feel insignificant (without humiliating them) that can kick start innovation in a company.” Sharma also believes that companies are now more willing to take risks than they did earlier and also understand that innovation is not plain ideation but a total shift in perception.
Though defining and measuring innovation’s success seems difficult, Erehwon has mastered the science over the years and guarantees 50 per cent success. This, according to Sharma, is a significant guarantee as the global benchmark for innovation’s success was 10 per cent a few years back.
Though Erehwon’s programme for innovation has a patent pending, Sharma is not worried about being imitated as he said, “Innovations cannot be copied.”
Erehwon has also held workshops at STAR and ESPN and is currently talking with sports and general entertainment channels to implement the Erehwon programme. Sharma is currently in the process of writing books on topics like Inspiring India to Innovate and reference books based on Erehwon’s work over the years.
Aspiring to set global benchmarks in innovation, Erehwon is also expanding internationally and is planning to set up offices in Europe and UK after its offices in Bangalore and Singapore.