Execution Key to innovation

A great idea, they say is only as good as its potential to be successfully executed.

Today, a company estd in 1865 is known for its global brand associated with the world of mobility. Nokia has evolved over the last century through innovation ad transformation which has been at the core of its DNA. A major reason for this is its ability to innovate in understanding consumer needs development futuristic concepts and to bring to life innovations. Innovation cannot be just a great thought or a great concept on paper unless it fully has the ability to be executed so that its worth can be argued and proven among people in its value chain, amid market forces and among competing forces.

Some say that innovation is executive and the two are in-separable. A valid thought given that it does not take more than bad execution for a good idea to fail. Companies now realize that execution is an intrinsic part of the innovation concept. It should not be treated as a logical step after innovation. What’s essentially the success barometer for execution is that an innovative idea should be agile enough to make it relevant to the disparate set in the value chain over a period of time.

Across industries some of the biggest examples of ideas that have been backed by good execution include shampoo sachets (pricing to value winning), Kingfisher Airlines (service innovation) and world’s cheapest car the Nano from the Tatas among others.

In a market like telecom, where the dynamics are changing rapidly Nokia recognizes that the mobile phone’s role as communication device is an old story Consumers are constantly seeking to get more out of their devices making it imperative for telecom companies to constantly seek innovations.

Although Nokia has faced its own set of challenges in the market, which would only grow more intense one innovation from the company that was delivered through good execution was Nokia Life Tools services, which uses an icon based graphically rich user interface that comes complete with tables and displays two different languages simultaneously on the same screen. The service is designed to work whatever one can use a mobile phone without any hassles for settings or the need for GPRS. Today, there are over a million active users of Nokia Life tools.

At the end of the day god innovation is measured when the customer is willing to invest in it and our strengths lie in its ability to execute with speed on an unparallel scale.

Why is execution important for the success of a good idea? A few years ago when parachute oil maker Marico entered the baby care segment (Sparsh baby oil and soap) it was considered a great idea. But company soon realized that it was a difficult segment, which it had under estimate. Mothers are not the ones to experiment with new products on their babies. When Marico went back to the drawing board stage, it realized how execution had failed an excellent idea.

Execution is the most critical part of innovation success apart from strategic choice making and capability building. Once you have made the right strategic choices you need to understand capability gaps in the organization to ensure top class execution. Let us take the India story. The growth opportunity is there for everybody and it is underwritten what differentiates firms is execution. The other critical component for innovation to sustain is to have the right culture and mindset in the team.

The company’s initiative in the baby segment failed due to bad execution, although the idea was great. But the learning surely was immense. The execution faux pas which companies should avoid is lack of robust business model, not enough resourcing in terms of monies and people, lack of focus and bandwidth (trying to do too many things) lack of a robust process and finally the culture.

Galvanizing the team so that there is one single definition of success and high degree of tracking along with multiple back ups plans are important.

All these factors were present when Marico implemented its entire IT journey in supply chain and the current supply chain transformation project, as also its whole marketing and promotional push behind Saffola Gold (Good for the heart) and parachute’ entry into Bangladesh.

Innovation is happening at several companies as we speak but due o obvious reasons they are move visible in consumer goods companies. Innovation and renovation have been one of the operational pillars at Nestle too. It is an integral part of the culture and all teams across functions own the process. At the factory implementation of key initiatives such as the mini business unit, empower and motivate employees to focus on their functions and innovate to improve productivity where possible. We encourage our brand teams to actively involve themselves with consumers and to keep seeking raw data that is real, deep and accurate and helps them relive the consumers’ experience

Since consumer interface is the core and is not a static process, Nestle encourages its teams to completely immerse themselves wit their consumer and constantly keep their eye on the moment of truth.

When Nestle found that nutritional needs of people in semi urban and rural areas were lacking it struck upon the insight that affordable meals for a large number of consumers in India not provide all the relevant nutrients The idea of providing a low cost meal that would also take acre of people’s balanced nutrition was put into action, and thus was born Maggi Masala-ae-magic and Maggie Rasile Chow. The products were targeted at the rural and semi urban markets to provide a low cost meal that also provided balanced nutrition.

Nestle’ experience shows that idea generation may sound simple but unless it is based on strong consumer insight and knowledge, it is likely to be short lived no matter how well it is packaged. Even then a strong idea is only half the story.

Sustainable innovations require a strong competitive advantages in the marketplace At Nestle we place a major emphasis on developing proprietary technology and ongoing R&D with a very strong interface between the food technology and the marketing experts to convert the idea into a robust concept that can delight the consumer.