I recently met a close friend of mine (also a classmate) who had lived and worked in the U.S. for several years, and is currently living in Mumbai.
We had a chat, and the discussion turned towards innovation and creativity in Indian companies, and even in the Indian operations of global MNCs (Multi-National Corporations).
I was surprised when my friend stated with conviction that he did not find the Indian work environment conducive for innovation and creativity. He felt that our workers toe the line and there is really no culture of innovation. Workers (like everyone else) are commercially minded, and are more interested in completing the work assigned to them and in their annual pay increment/bonus.
I asked him to compare the work environments between India and the U.S.
He said that the U.S. work environment very purposefully encourages technological innovation and rewards creativity amongst employees. Failure is expected to happen and accepted, no one ridicules failure. There is no personal reference to the guy who failed to deliver on a technical matter or creative stuff. Managers have confidence that the individual is resourceful enough and creative enough to overcome current failures and come up with something unique which would become a success.
Indian managers may not have the patience and the appreciation needed to encourage creativity.
I then went on to ask him what he thinks about the current economic troubles in the U.S. – in a nutshell, will the U.S. pull up and recover ?
I expected him to respond saying something like, yes it is going to be rather difficult for the U.S. Emphasis should now be more on Asia Pacific, India, China, etc., I have heard such responses from others.
But my friend said that he believes the U.S. would recover – they will find a way out of their current economic crisis. Why ? Because the Americans are the most creative people in the world. They will rejuvenate themselves, with the help or without the help of their government.
Again, this was a surprising answer. My friend had more confidence in the U.S. economic recovery than even some of the Americans !
This synopsis just goes to show that technological innovation and creativity need to be actively encouraged in the Indian work environment. This is all the more necessary because we all know that the IIMs and the IITs do not produce world-class research and do not even appear in the top 200 educational institutions of higher learning around the world. So, innovation has always been in short supply in India.
This is something that we need to learn from the U.S. The Indian industry needs to take urgent action to strongly encourage R & D and innovation, the government may not do anything.
28th July 2012