Frugal Innovation and Change Management in India

Introduction

This is a reflective report, which captures thinking towards leading and managing change and promoting creativity and innovation within an organization. The report evaluates why change is so prevalent and so necessary for organizational success and survival. In this report, I make use of frugal innovation in India to show what motivates change and innovation in people. I also provide an overview of my views about change management and its relevance to leadership and innovation. My overall aim is to reflect on innovation as a professional change management skill.

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When I talk about innovation, I relate it to growth and performance through advancements in productivity, efficiency, quality, and competitiveness. Innovation should add value by transforming old habits and practices (Harrington, 2004, p. 191). I have realized that organizations, which fail to promote change, disappear eventually. This leads me to ask how we can be as innovative as individuals or as an organization. Organizations may achieve innovation by conducting studies and research or by informal approaches like learning on-the-job. I have noted that most thriving innovation happens at times of need. Thus, the innovator must use available resources creatively and collaboratively to find a solution.

Western governments have large fiscal stresses, and they search for ways of managing such a deficit as they aim to meet the needs of the public. However, emerging nations have a new approach to service provisions. I realize that it has also caught the attention of our leaders as they struggle to provide services to the public amidst financial crises. For instance, David Cameron, the Prime Minister of Britain referred to the drive to succeed as seen in Delhi. However, Delhi and London represent different environments. How well will drive to succeed work in London as it does in Delhi? This brings me to the idea of frugal innovation in India. Indians apply the principle of jagged innovation. It suggests “openness to improvisation and outside ideas in a search for the simplest route to solving a complex problem” (Sharma, 2012, p.1). You have to work with what is at your disposal and never give up until you find a solution.

Therefore, what can we learn from frugal innovators? We can apply frugal innovation to management thinking and transform organizations as leaders. This means that we have to manage change processes in organizations. However, I must note that both leaders and scholars have demonstrated that managing change in any setup is a complex initiative.

Change Management

We have to manage change effectively to succeed. I have observed that most organizations in today’s fast and dynamic environment of business must manage change processes effectively for their survival and success. Change and innovation are vital in organizations because we can create a competitive edge through them (Richards, 2012, p. 1). At the same time, I have noticed that change and innovation enable us to meet the expectations of others.

I have noted that change, whether it comes gradually or rapidly, can result in momentous challenges and disorientation in an organization. This is because the process of managing change involves many people who must learn and adapt to change. In this regard, organizational success and overall survival depend on the ability of its leadership to identify both external and internal factors that cause change and provide suitable leadership to manage the process. In this process, a leader must demonstrate leadership (Bossidy, Charan, and Burck, 2003, pp. 474-495).

In the past few decades, I have witnessed dramatic changes across the world. These changes come from various sources including the globalization of business environments, technological innovation, markets, mega-corporate scandals, and growing risks and threats from environmental conditions and people. The competitive environment has made some organizations thrive while others have disappeared or merged to survive.

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I have also witnessed scholars and professionals devise various methods to manage change. Change management takes different approaches as Francis observes. These include “Process Improvements, Business Process Re-engineering, Restructuring, Total Quality Management, and Right-Sizing” (Francis, 2007, p. 1). These are efforts aiming to identify and respond to uncertain and difficult situations. The environment is dynamic, and change always influences every aspect of the organization. This means that leaders can no longer rely on ‘business as usual’ strategy or perpetuate the status quo in their organizations (Kouzes and Posner, 2012, p. 22).

We may wonder why most efforts to manage changes fail. The main cause of failure is a sudden reaction to it. Therefore, organizations should develop a culture that can monitor and provide the best methods of reacting to changes promptly. This process must involve all stakeholders as they align themselves with the organization’s guiding principles.

Kotter notes that a number of these unsuccessful change initiatives take place due to numerous weaknesses. Sources of failure include the following:

failure to generate a sense of urgency; failure to establish a powerful guiding coalition; no clear vision or strategy to direct the change effort; ineffective communication of the change vision to all stakeholders; failure to identify and eliminate obstacles to change; failure to create and recognize short-term achievements; celebrating success prematurely, causing stakeholders to lose focus; failure to incorporate firmly the changes into the corporate culture” (Kotter, 2007, p. 92)

We can only learn about such failures by reviewing failed initiatives. Therefore, if we need to eliminate or reduce risks associated with failure, we have to develop change models with the capabilities of leading the organization to success (Kotter, 2012, p. 85).

Organizational change cannot be effective without strong leadership (Charan, 2007, p. 7). Managing the process needs commitment from the leadership of an organization. The leadership must demonstrate its commitment to leading change initiatives. This ensures that the team responds appropriately during the implementation of change initiatives.

I have noticed that organizations, which manage change, are always ready because they have recognized that change is constant and inescapable (Bridges and Bridges, 2009, p. 169). Therefore, these organizations have mechanisms to adapt and embrace change positively for their survival.

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I recognize that change management begins with strong leadership. The leader must be able to respond to and direct change through developing new strategies to enhance the change process (Mies, 2000, pp. 135-153).

My current leadership principle borrows extensively from the transformational leadership style. This is because the transformational leadership style enables the group to feel admiration, trust, loyalty, and respect towards the leader, and enhances a sense of motivation among the team (Yukl, 2010, pp. 275-285). Bass notes that transformational leadership enables “the leader to transform and motivate the team through provisions of task outcomes, sacrificing their self-interests for the sake of the team or organization and activating the higher-order needs” (Bass, 1996, p. 139).

As I review leadership abilities to manage change. The most crucial aspects I have learned in leadership materials are that leaders can only persuade a team through setting exceptional deeds during change management processes. This is an act of setting standards for the team. It also serves as role modeling. Role modeling shall assist me to steer clear of unpleasant or unpopular decisions and actions. In this regard, I must set the standards for the organization as we manage and implement change and innovation initiatives (Gunu, 2011, p. 21).

I shall also lead an organization as I focus on implementing change initiatives. Scholars in the area of organizational change have focused on how change processes affect the success (Denis, Lamothe, and Langley, 2001, p. 809). As I have noted above, any successful change process in an organization relies on the leadership abilities of the leader (Galavan, Murray, and Markides, 2008, p. 209). In this context, the habits and behaviors of a leader can demonstrate how such a leader reacts to change. Some behaviors and habits shall engage administration, motivation, guidance, support, and politics of the organization. Leaders must discard behaviors and habits that can be detrimental to change implementation. I must understand that change is a procedural aspect of development, and in most cases, even individuals who support it need help, motivation, and guidance because change initiatives always have unavoidable drawbacks. As a result, such forms of support are crucial to help a leader to sustain a sense of optimism and enthusiasm about a change initiative. I have watched organizations undertake major changes and observe that the change process is stressful about cases of dislocation, disruptions, and slow adjustment (Collins, 2001, p. 87).

For successful change implementation, as a leader, I must ensure that my group realizes the urgency of creating immediate change initiatives instead of taking slow adjustments because of rapid changes we have experienced in the past. At the same time, I have also noted that leaders have to mobilize resources and support for such changes to take place (Lencioni, 2002, p. 43). We can only define the success of a change initiative if we clearly define the available resources and use such resources wisely to achieve the desired results. At this point, a leader must identify the most prominent people in the organization who are most likely to oppose change initiatives and seek their supports. This requires a wide association with members of the organization who are willing to support change initiatives. This is where leadership requires people with various skills in persuasion, implementing change, negotiation, and empowering others to help in planning and implementing change efforts. A leader must ensure that processes of implementing change initiatives remain properly coordinated for the success and future survival of the organization (Schein, 2009, p. 37).

Innovation

Innovation involves using creative processes to produce tangible outcomes with potential values and realize the outcome of innovation through a leadership framework that provides opportunities for people to be innovative. Booz Allen study indicates that successful innovators have “a rigorous process for managing innovation including a disciplined, stage-by-stage approval process combined with regular measurements of every critical factor, from time and money spent to the success of new products and services in the market” (Jaruzelski, 2007, p. 7).

From the frugal innovation, I can note that innovation has turned into a key strategic tool for organizations. However, I must point out that not all organizations understand elements that constitute innovation. Thus, they wonder what has prohibited them from being innovative. However, we should understand that people are the main drivers of innovation, and they use it to create competitive advantages for their organizations. You can look at innovation in Apple, Google, and Facebook among other companies.

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A careful analysis of frugal innovation in India leads to conclude that there are seven main trends, which facilitate innovation in organizations for competitive advantage. These trends can help us understand innovation for future successful organizations.

First, Indians have defined frugal innovation in their environment. Frugal innovation shows an environment of great scarcity. Thus, one must use what is available. Understanding our environment leads us to notice what is missing and consequently, develop a framework to invent it (Das, 2010, pp. 1-3). According to Duckworth, the culture of frugal innovation started more than 60 years ago due to a lack of government support. Thus, Indians emerged to improve their statuses in the absence of State intervention (Duckworth, 2012, p. 1). However, I have noted that most innovative inventions involve teamwork.

Second, I believe that a leader must develop a strategic innovation plan. This is necessary to give innovation strategic importance. This process nurtures a culture of innovation in an organization. A leader must spend time building both a strategic plan for business and the culture of the organization. I have noted that a leader must develop the necessary action to implement a strategic plan to drive innovation. However, communication is useful in the organization to gain support for the initiative.

Third, in my review of articles about frugal innovation in India, I noted that organizations create a culture that promotes consistent innovation to eliminate cases of ad hoc measures. In this respect, a leader must engage everyone to drive change and innovation for the success of the organization. In this respect, the organization must attain and sustain a profitable goal. Success necessitates the need for the organization to reinvent itself and introduce new items or solutions. As a cultural change initiative, a leader must encourage everyone to participate.

Fourth, Indians’ frugal innovation has shown me that innovation requires long-term strategies, which promote a culture of innovation. Frugal innovation has produced social entrepreneurs in India because of a long-term focus on innovation. In the West, I believe we can create a culture that promotes frugal solutions to the fiscal stress we experience. Hence, Chhabra notes, “corporations may be able to learn from developing-world entrepreneurs, who emphasize frugality, flexibility, and simplicity in designing products” (Chhabra, 2012, p. 1).

Fifth, a leader must support change and innovation by re-shaping his or her values and principles. I believe that a leader must act and behave in a style that exemplifies organizational values and principles. From these values and principles, I believe that organizations shall only hire employees who can promote cultures of innovation and change.

Sixth, a leader must develop definite processes, which promote innovation. This is because innovation only happens if people take the initiatives to solve their problems. I know that we can never force innovation to happen. However, we can develop it. In other words, we can develop our creative habits by generating new ideas. Creative habits enable organizations to adapt to change for future success and survival.

I must also point out that innovation involves collaboration. A leader must foster teamwork in the organization. People must come together to look for solutions. I learned that Google and Microsoft have periods for employees to engage in innovative activities. This has become a part of the innovation cultures in these organizations. Thus, a leader must devote time to innovation in an organization. In this context, a leader must ensure that a team works in a diverse environment, resolves conflicts, comprehends how to enhance innovation, provides alternative approaches, looks for possibilities, and executes them to realize the desired goal.

Finally, I have noted that modern organizations consist of people of multiple generations. Thus, a leader must recognize such differences and understand how innovation can thrive under such differences. Such differences affect relationships among workers and approaches to work.

Moore notes that frugal innovation goes beyond clever R&D. It involves processes, which aim to enhance efficiency. In some cases, it does not require fuel, capital, investment, or even modern technology. However, the results remain the high quality of services (Moore, 2011, pp. 1-2). The Economist notes that frugal innovation has transformed Indians’ public and private sectors (The Economist, 2010, p. 1). Multinational firms now turn to frugal innovation to save costs. For instance, organizations use frugal innovation to reach many customers and accept reduced profits for volumes. In this context, I realize that frugal innovation entails rethinking every aspect of the business to develop new models (Pozen, 2012, p. 6).

Reflection

As I think about innovation and change management, I relate them to leadership. I realize that change must be innovative because it defines the success and survival of the organization. We can only achieve innovation through generating ideas and implementing them and then realizing value from our innovative ventures. On the other hand, as I reflect on change management, I realize the need to initiate a change process, define its course, communicate, execute, and evaluate its impacts.

Sometimes, I tend to think that the terms bear fundamental similarity and almost overlapping. I think leaders should study change management and innovation. We can note that for any change management to be successful, there must be some behavioral changes. However, when we foist change on people without providing them with opportunities to understand their roles, then the innovation shall lead to the failure of the project.

On the other hand, I have noted that change management can borrow from innovation. For instance, leaders have applied open innovation strategies to drive innovation and change management. Change management, innovation, and leadership are three elements, which are central to the performance of an organization.

In my view, change management usually is core to the business and organizational management, which forms a part of the organizational activities. However, I have observed that some organizations do not regard innovation as a part of their core management activities. The leader of an organization is responsible for the initiation of innovation. However, I witnessed that most organizations have failed to make innovation a key part of their business strategies. Instead, they only rely on a few skilled and knowledgeable people to provide solutions. In my view, this act of leaving innovation to a few individuals in the organization removes innovation from the core activities of the organization. This implies that such innovation drives shall fail due to a lack of inclusion.

I believe that innovation should also be at the center stage of organizational change management initiatives. This strategy links leadership, change management, and innovation together to form core factors, which are necessary for the success and survival of the organization.

Conclusions

In this report, I have demonstrated that we can leverage the freedom we have to innovate and develop new solutions, which fit our environment. Frugal innovation works in an environment in which resources are scarce. However, the process must ensure that we have cost-effective solutions for most problems.

Frugal innovation in India has created social entrepreneurs because of the government’s lack of initiative and apathy. This made me believe that measurements, people, and motivation are the main drivers of innovation initiatives in people. In this regard, I have noted that social entrepreneurs have a personal drive to change an idea into a solution, commercialize their innovation, and develop a viable business. However, this is a hard task.

I cannot ignore the critical role a leader plays to ensure that all changes and innovation initiatives are successful. Any change initiative requires a leader to formulate a strategic approach that all stakeholders must support. The leader must demonstrate why change is urgent. He must demonstrate by example a commitment to change and provide opportunities for stakeholders’ inputs. This implies that a leader must overcome all elements, which oppose innovation and change in the organization. A leader must make innovation and change the central part of the core business activities of the organization. I believe that innovation, change management, and leadership can only work as a whole to ensure that core activities are successful.

References

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