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Moving from return on investment to return on innovation

13-November-2006
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Moving from return on investment to return on innovation

David Wittenberg, Director, Innovations Workgroup at Optimus Solutions Ltd, is in India and along with Ajay Gupta, CEO, Corporate Leadership Institute (CLI), plans to reach their clients and show them the importance of innovation and how it can help their clients in turning around their businesses. Wittenberg is a versatile business leader who develops innovative strategies by understanding the advantages to produce fact-based analyses that drive growth and profitability.

In India, he will work in collaboration with CLI to provide his services, which is multi-line consultancy service.

Talking about his collaboration with Wittenberg, Gupta said, “I was looking for working on the concept of innovative leadership and was looking for people to associate with. This quest led me to David Wittenberg and together we landed up getting assignment in April-May this year.”

Explaining their concept, Wittenberg said, “In Indian industry there is a lot of chat about innovation, but people really don’t know how to go about this. We give our clients practical methods and tools to innovate.”

He further said, “One of our tools is Ethnography: study of culture. We bring this tool to observe and document the market. I have discovered that in metros at least there is a great sense and desire to use technology. We offer solutions to our clients that bring returns on these innovations.”

Innovation is seen as a three-step cycle. The first phase is called discovery and this is where understanding the deep consumer insight comes into play.

Gupta explained, “We use concepts like a Day In the life of Consumer, where in certain cases one lives with the consumer to see how they behave. One has to agree that most decisions are taken from the heart, they don’t come through boxes that researches use. We use insight that comes through observation to innovate.”

He further said that while observing a consumer, it was felt that when a woman who used a refrigerator often had to bend several times to pick vegetables or fruits from the basket that lay at a lower level. While the ice-tray, which one doesn’t use that often, was at the top. Hence, the insight that refrigerators could be innovated with baskets which one uses often such as the vegetable ones placed at a better position that would not require bending.

The second phase is invention, which uses techniques that stimulate ideation. Step three involves application that gains the client.

Wittenberg said that the challenge they faced when they approached a client was to convince him/her how the innovation would show on the returns and add to the bottom line. Though, he added, once the client got to know about the techniques and tools, they usually were convinced of the success.

Gupta said, “We are unique as we transfer our processes by mentoring and training the staff thus building innovation culture and not restricting innovation among the top levels in any company. Also, we innovate using existing skills, we just unleash knowledge and give keys to what is already there.”

“Innovation is to combine existing elements to create new ways to bring value to the customer,” Wittenberg added.

The duo claims to have bagged quite a few businesses since they got together in April this year. In future, they are looking at making this service available in all major metros and look at spreading their concept by using the platform of management institutes and industry associates.

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