Innovation comes to those with an unfettered mind, who think up unthought and out of the box ideas, but successful innovation comes to those who are able to combine this with experience, and judge, which road has the best, if any, chance to take reach the destination.
The mind is the best design tool we have. A successful innovator will be able to go a long way in evaluating and improvising the idea within his mind, before he starts prototyping.
Let us not underestimate the power of the human mind. Natural learning is the father of machine learning. Every software code, every dam, every rocket, was imagined by human minds in increasing complexity over a period of time. Let us not overestimate the power of the human mind. Mind has a huge space inside it, but finite. At some point of time, imagination has to give way to simulations and physical models to validate, learn and move further.
We are bound to fail every once in awhile, where each step is a success or a learning at a cost. There are lessons that are learnt at every stage. Lessons at the design stage, prototyping stage,deployment and testing stages. Rarely is it possible to test a new product for its entire life cycle performance before the commercialization, unless it is safety critical. A lot of expensive learning happens on reliability of the technology, in the early commercialization stages.
Monetization of innovation invariably has a long lead time. Prototyping, testing and design iterations are money guzzlers at any time, in the brick and mortar technology space. Conserving the cash until commercialization, is the critical and acid test. All too often no investor will come on board until the new design is on the verge of commercialization, until the gravy train is clearly visible. Even at this stage,it is only those innovations which have a seemingly exploding top line and a large potential market share, excites the investors. Whatever one may think of the investors’ choices, let us remember that he has a wide choice and it is his money. His wisdom, his fear and his greed matter more than your faith in your innovation. To put it in short and sweet words, it is not happening easily. Be prepared to carry the effort on your shoulder all the way. The financial ecosystem is difficult in the brick and mortar innovation space, as compared to the IT and IT enabled sector.
By the way, what is a success? To declare an innovation as a success, it must solve a contemporary problem, demonstrably so, at a reasonable price line. A technically working solution, which is overcapitalised and commercially unviable does not make the cut. The viability or the lack of it is clear wherever substitute technologies are available. There are cases of technically working designs in every sector that has bitten the dust, because it could not compete with other substitute technologies right at the very outset. Such technologies need the oxygen of government support until the volumes build up and economies of scale kick in. I am sure the first solar panel did not compete on costs with a diesel generator.
As the world is networked and shrinking in terms of travel and mobility, ideas and knowledge travel ever faster across the globe. Production costs, trade and logistics will be progressively more and more efficient across the globe. It is then, that the man with the ideas will stand out and the nation with a thriving technology leadership will dominate the economy.
India is a country with a billion minds. Intellectual capability is a per capita resource and better distributed than oil resources around the world. We have a promising future ahead of us.