Innovation 101 – Cost vs. Quality. Deuce.

To me it doesn’t matter whether India will be able to maintain its cost advantage. What does is sustainable and long-term value as a combination of cost and quality. In my view we are seeing the end of the traditional benefits of outsourcing. In whichever way customers were disguising their need to leverage lower costs, the only reason for outsourcing was cost arbitrage. We have seen that gap closing especially in the case of Indian talent. Squeezing benefit from outsourcing purely on a cost basis is clearly the last remnants of Industrial age thinking, which besides all other untenable factors, seems to think of human beings as alternatives to machines. I suggest for this reason alone, that we delete ‘outsourcing’ from business lexicon.

Joel Delman, Los Angeles design director for Product Development Technologies(PDT) points out

Having already gained the lion’s share of  manufacturing work, countries like China and India are now focusing on building  their capabilities in the innovation and design phases of product development.  While some may dismiss the seriousness of this trend, we’d be naive to believe  that the United States has a monopoly on a creative workforce.

(read Cost vs. Quality: The Dangers of Outsourcing Design Overseas) Continue reading

Let’s cut our noses. Yes Prime Minister!

Two of my favourite subjects here – the fascinating global warming debate and India’s bollywood style negotiation script. Hopenhagen is around the corner and will make Kyoto passe. We love being underdogs because like our movies, the hero comes from behind in a good-over-evil victory lap while the crowd applauds his heroic antics.

Hopenhagen

Two wrongs don’t make a right, and I fully intend the pun.
US spews Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere when India sleeps. [Pat on back .. I’m getting good at puns]Now India wants America to pay for their long and sinful polluting behaviour. And guess what, if they don’t, we’ll have an equal right to kill the planet first so we’re even. That’s the craziest example of serving our self interests I’ve come across. It’s almost like saying that since I just found out that my neighbour has been raping my mother for 20 years, the way to punish him is by killing my own mother. Continue reading

Counterpoint – Is Fiat Money better than the Gold Standard?

So here’s the rebuttal from the other camp. A comment I received on my previous post Printed Money, Gloom to Doom was from a friend who urged me to look at the opposite view. He said – “Sunil, I’m afraid you’re completely off the mark on money”.

There is no intrinsic virtue to the gold standard. The true basis of any currency is the productive capacity of the economy where it is printed. This has nothing to do with the quantity of gold held by the country. Your credit card issuing bank creates money when it gives you credit. The real issue is when the money supply goes out of kilter with the supply of goods and services in the economy. Right now, inflation is not a problem. Deflation is the threat facing the developed world. The US is tackling that by loosening money supply.

Here, let me help you get on the other side of the debate - “Fiat money is better than the Gold Standard”. The question is why. Continue reading

Innovation 101: Throw money at the financial crisis?

Get your heads out of the sand

Get your heads out of the sand

I’m pushing 50 and I always thought my general knowledge was passable. Until I watched Slumdog Millionaire and found out that it wasn’t George Washington’s mug on a $100 bill but Benjamin Franklin’s. Strange coincidence and somewhat evangelistic that he was the one who said

He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money. - Benjamin Franklin

So what’s America trying to do to quell the current storm that doesn’t want to go away. Allegation or not, the only course that seemed to come to you was to throw money at the crisis. How smart is that? Doesn’t surprise anyone outside the US but you are taken by surprise when the bailout money gets generously distributed against ‘bonuses payable’ among the very people that caused the crisis to happen. Continue reading

Innovation 101: People first

I’ve tried and cried but have not been able to find any machine that’s innovative. Neither have I found a machine that cries, or is frightened or is creative or has an ego or is greedy. Strangely enough, I don’t have to look too hard for these ‘abilities’ when it comes to people, regardless of their religion, race, cultural moorings or, for that matter, even age.

If you’ve ever driven in India you’ll often find that the ‘victim is the violator’ which means the same thing even if you read it the other way around. But when it comes to business and society, this mindset is almost universal – it’s not just an India thing – and the preachers are rarely, if at all, practitioners. Innovation (are the so-called experts listening?) is a field of endeavour that is deeply rooted in local-contexts and unless you learn the ‘cultural’ behaviors you don’t have a chance of providing any value.  Continue reading