Reverse Innovation – Vijay Govindarajan & amp; Chris Trimble

Create far from home win everywhere

Reverse innovation is the main subject to this exquisite book as the authors strongly believe it is the pathway to success, especially for emerging economies. History has it that multinationals would innovate in wealthy countries like the USA and then sell their products to poor countries like India; reverse innovation according to the two authors is working against that historical grain by doing the exact opposite. They believe it is time that innovation begins in developing economies as it trickles up to developed countries. Therefore, instead of exporting, why not innovate in emerging economies? In other terms, reverse innovation involves meeting the needs of developing nations by producing goods as inexpensive models and then repackaging the same as low cost innovative goods for developed nations to buy.

Dominant logic is a concept quite discouraged in this book as dated thinking inhibits reverse innovation. It challenges leaders and institutions to challenge their status quo and only work with past strategies with clear revision and critical analysis. This is in tandem with George Santayana’s quote that goes “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Reverse innovation begins by identifying need gaps in any space that one desires to see transformation. There are five need gaps discussed in the book: the performance gap, the infrastructure gap, the sustainability gap, the regulatory gap and the preferences gap. These gaps between emerging economies and the rich world are so substantial that emerging economy needs can only rarely be addressed simply by making adaptations to rich world products. This therefore calls for capturing opportunities in the poor world by starting from scratch (clean-slate innovation) in order to maximize trends that will close the gaps.

It is critical to remember that reverse innovations flow uphill in two ways: marginalized market which happens immediately and mainstream market which takes time. All innovation is about assessing needs and developing solutions hence the crucial integration of sales and marketing. Strategy, global organization and project organization too are good markers to always look at when innovating in reverse.

In conclusion, reverse innovation efforts test the commitment, resilience and passion of the Innovators. Equally they test the gumption and long term vision of whom the innovators report to and of the organization as a whole. The goal should always be “value for money to value for many” reverse innovation is not optional it is the oxygen!

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