Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Innovation in Asia

I should have written this book. No, no, I don't mean that this is badly written nor its material substandard. On the contrary, this is a marvellous book that grew out of MBA classes taught by the author at INSEAD's Singapore campus. Students in these classes typically consists of captains of industry, CEOs, Senior Executives and other influential people not only from Singapore, but throughout the Asian region. What I mean is that I wished I had this book around when I was doing my Masters Degree a couple of years ago. It would have been a tremendous source of reference for me as I was researching small and medium sized companies in Singapore then.

This book, "Inspire to Innovate" by Arnoud De Meyer and Sam Garg is chock-full of case studies from around the Asian region, in countries such as Singapore, Thailand, the Phillippines, Taiwan, India, etc. This breadth of business experience in the innovative process recounted in this book in itself is worth more than the paper it is printed on. The authors not only relate their stories, but also apply these experiences within the context of the innovation process and its management. While innovation and management processes, principles and practices are not new - many authors have already written extensively on it - what is refreshing in this book is its focus on small and medium sized businesses, with the odd addition of Samsung and the National Library Board which is a Singapore Statutory Board. So such obscure companies as Smart, Tiger Motors, Hindustan Lever, e-Chaupal, Li & Fung, Patkol, Aapico Hitech and other more well known companies such as Dilmah Tea, NIIT of India, Shin Satellite, etc. are used to illustrate how innovation can be realised in the Asian context. The authors also attempts to draw the differences between the Asian environment and the more often studied developed country environments to show how the commonly accepted innovation management practices need to diverge to be effective in the Asian context.

This is a truly unique book, and should be on the shelve of every executive in Asia who are thinking of how to introduce innovation into its organisation.