An American, Indian & Chinese walked into a bar…

LP #004

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines innovation as “the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods.” It sounds quite comprehensive and complete in its meaning but I would like to point out that things could not be more different in the real world.

In essence there are 3 conflicting prominent versions in today’s world – the American way, the Chinese way and the Indian way. Hence the title.

On close examination, we can see that many other versions or methods are quite prevalent but these 3 definitely do stand out. They not only stand out but it presses the question… which one should we adopt? Let us take a closer look at the 3.

American way

The American style of innovation is quite simple. Lets make something totally new, based on a simple idea, use our media clout over the world and make it popular and cool. This approach to innovation has resulted in plenty of great technological advances from the American continent and still continues to do so.

Chinese way

The Chinese approach to innovation has a very distinctive style to it as well. Anyone who has worked for a Chinese firm will be able to relate. It goes something like this. Lets see what is the most popular idea out there in the market from the other parts of the world, research on numbers and results, make a Chinese version of it and then localize it to various parts of the world. The Chinese has products that are so big in the mainland that they usually dont have to step outside their own market to monetize it.

Indian way

The Indian way is a little more complicated. There are a lot of unique ideas brimming within the Indian sub continent but there is a constant struggle. Should we work on an idea that is global or Indian centric? What happens in the end is this.. Let’s see what the next big thing is there in the world, try and get a job there and be part of something global, work on our idea on an Indian societal level, bring a socio-economic twist to it, leverage it via social networks, quit the high paying job once the idea is sale-able, focus full time on the idea and finally work on the true next big thing you have in mind. Websites like ScoopWhoop, The Logical Indian etc are full of stories of Indians who are making a difference.

Not here to judge which approach is the right one but the sands of time are changing with more and more of the global youth becoming mentally stronger and confident of their prospects and tilting more and more towards the American method. This is especially true of the Indian youth who have been showing more and more courage in taking the entrepreneurial plunge. In a few years time I hope I have an opportunity to rewrite this article with a different take on the innovation around the world (especially the Indian way).

The author is a seasoned marketer with experience over various platforms and marketing functions and is currently employed with one of the largest internet/mobile application companies in the world. Degrees apart, lessons learnt from the School of Hard Knocks and the University of Life has defined his professional and personal outlook.


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