Education, R&D, publications, creativity, and patents are important. However, to leverage them in taking ideas to market at profit, culture matters. In fact, profiting from innovation demands passion for perfection, and winning traits. In absence of this cultural strength, progress in other indicators, often, falls shorts in turning ideas to better quality products, requiring fewer resources to produce. Historical background in sharpening weapons with their own ideas for winning war has played a vital role in deepening this culture. Innovation success stories in Japan and other countries underscore the role of such a culture in succeeding in innovation.
Human beings have two fundamental inherent characteristics. The first one is that they are after economic incentives—profit. The next one is winning attitude, whether at the individual, firm or national levels. Innovation is a means for meeting both of these two traits. Innovation in the form of ideas for making products better and cheaper offers the means of profiting. On the other hand, it also offers the edge of outperforming competitors. However, ideas for improving quality and reducing cost requires a passion for perfection and a winning attitude. Hence, profiting from innovation demands a passion for winning and perfection. This is an important area to focus on creating an innovation economy.
So far, the market economy focuses on freedom entrepreneurship for profiting from innovation. Although most countries have adopted market economy principles, only a few countries have succeeded in profiting from innovation. Countries that have outperformed others in innovation appear to have a history of wining war and colonizing. Is it just a coincidence? Or, is there an underlying reason for creating such a sharp contrast?
Profiting from innovation demands a flow of ideas—as opposed to an occasional creative sparks
Although innovation is perceived as the outcome of a creative spark in genius, it’s about pursuing a relentless journey of making products better and cheaper through a flow of ideas. Of course, the profit-making incentive is at the core. Apart from it, winning the race for enjoying the victory is also a strong driver. The next question is how to get a flow of ideas. As opposed to just an occasional burst of creative minds, there is a need for continued as well as predictable progression in producing ideas. First of all, it requires a passion for perfection and a winning attitude. Furthermore, there is a need for the flow of knowledge.
However, often, passion for perfecting, and winning drives investment and effort for creating the flow of knowledge, though. Once these two vital ingredients are fed into the creative minds of humans, ideas of making products better and cheaper start showing up. Hence, profiting from innovation demands passion.
Winning trait turns a tinkerer driver of innovation—an example from Japan
Japan has a long history of sharpening weapons for winning wars. Such a winning spree appears to be in the genetic code of Japanese. Among many others, Genzo Shimadzu Jr. is a notable one. He is the son of Genzo Shimadzu Sr., who was born into the family of a craftsman. After attending schools just for two years, he took the job in the family business of repairing scientific laboratory equipment. Upon observing that all the equipment he used to repair came from other countries, he started to ask a question, “Why can’t Japanese make machinery like this?” During that time there was a common belief in Japan that foreign products were the best. Genzo’s disappointment reached an extreme level as if he was at war with common knowledge, which led to making a local version of foreign products.
However, he did not stop upon replicating foreign products and attaching ‘Made in Japan” label. He got into the race of perfecting them. His passion for perfection and craftsmanship background progressed into ideas of redesigning them. His winning spirit led to the flow of redesign ideas, culminating to registering 178 patents during his lifetime. It’s not a small achievement for a person who left school after attending just for two years. This flow of ideas started turning a scientific equipment repairing shop, which Genzo Shimadzu Sr. founded in 1875, into a remarkable success story of a strong scientific knowledge-based innovation success story. Among many successes, Shimadzu produced many “Japanese firsts” or “world firsts”, original products. Notable examples are gas chromatographs and remote-controlled X-ray fluoroscopy systems. Shimadzu Corporation is now known for its high-end scientific instruments, MRI, and CT scanner, among many other prominent products.
Japan’s emergence as an innovation success story has root in winning the war through perfecting weapons–Japna is inline with profiting from innovation demands passion
Shimadzu Corporation is not a rare single example in japan. There have many others like Sony, Toyota, Honda, Hitachi, Toshiba, and Panasonic, among many others. In addition to Japan’s innovation success story, winning of Nobel Prize by 15 Japanese in Physics and Chemistry during the first 20 years of the 21st century is equally intriguing. Perhaps Japan’s past history of sharpening weapons in winning the war for taking over geography for commercial gain planted the seed for creating innovation successes. On the one hand, they have a passion for perfecting their artifacts. On the other hand, they have a winning spirit for commercial gain. In the contemporary world, they have been leveraging them, perhaps subconsciously. They have also succeeded in blending their craftsmanship with the scientific discoveries leading to technology inventions for scaling up their perfection spree.
Often such a vital insight is missing from the perspective of outsiders. Subsequently, it often leads to the wrong perception about Japan’s underlying strength. Japan’s success in profiting from innovation and winning a disproportionate number of Nobel Prize, particularly in Physics and Chemistry is a mystery to many. Japan appears to be a perfect example of the fact that profiting from innovation demands passion.
Europe’s war-winning and colonial heritage underpins winning attitude through the sharpening of artifacts
European countries like France, Germany, Portugal, Greece, and England, among many others, have a past history of sharpening their weapons and strategic thinking and mobilizing national resources to take over other nations. At the beginning, they relied on tinkering and craftsmanship in sharpening their weapons. Later on, they looked upon scientific discoveries for generating knowledge to produce a flow of ideas for sharpening their artifacts. Over time, they found that the integration of those ideas in improving commercial products and processes was far more rewarding than occupying foreign loads and grabbing resources. Their adoption of market economy principles empowered each citizen to profit from ideas by offering better products at decreasing costs.
America’s edge in profiting and winning with innovation is rooted in military
It’s well documented that the USA found science as the most powerful means for sharpening their weapons to win the war. During World War II, America gained significant milage in war through science. Notable ones are Radar and Nuclear bombs. To scale up this success, America has developed an integrated mechanism. It has been creating a series of innovation success stories by investing in R&D to sharpen the military’s edge. Over the last 70 years, America’s institutional approach has been turned into a culture of winning in both war and commercial fronts with innovation through the passion for perfection.
Russia’s Winning Spirit fails to innovate due to lack of profit-making competition
Russia has remarkable success in scientific discoveries and technological inventions and their integration to attain an edge in weapons. However, Russia failed to organize the economy to create competition in profit-making opportunities for individuals and private firms from ideas, gained from the scientific and technological edge. Hence, Russia could not emerge as an economic powerhouse out of innovation.
India’s failure to emerge as an innovator–due to lack of passion for perfection and winning attitude
After independence in 1947, India embarked on becoming an industrial powerhouse. India took the strategy of producing import substitutions and investing in R&D. Through protection, India made early success in producing many substitutes of imports. Starting from automobile to machine tools, the list goes on. India also established a network of national R&D labs. However, Indians did neither have a winning spree, nor the passion for perfection. Indian firms were basically after making money. Hence, India could not address the fact that profiting from innovation demands a passion for winning and perfection.
As opposed to winning the foreign competition through a flow of redesign ideas, they applied protection for making sure that a few Indian firms can profit from producing inferior replicas of foreign products for the Indians. On the other hand, R&D laboratories and academics produced publications, even patents, having virtually no relevance to making products produced by Indians increasingly better and less costly to produce. Hence, within 40 years, India found itself in a deplorable state. Therefore, India’s failure in profiting and winning with innovation is a lesson for many indeed.
Ranking in Global Innovation Index is not enough to succeed in profiting from innovation–lacks to focus on profiting from innovation demands passion
Over the last 10 years, the uplift their positions in the Global Innovation Index. In this bid, they have been investing in infrastructure, expanding higher education, and providing incentives for publications. They are also desperate for attracting foreign direct investment in high-tech through incentives, among other areas. However, there is no indication that countries experiencing steady uplifting in the ranking are equally succeeding in offering better quality products at lower cost by adding locally produced ideas. Hence, it may not be unfair to summarise that until these countries focus on profiting from innovation through a passion for perfecting and winning, the ranking in the Global Innovation Index runs the risk of misleading them.has been reporting relative innovation capabilities of more than 100 economies. In the recent past, there has been a race among developing countries to