Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why imitation is smarter than innovation?

Post written by Anshul Gupta. Follow me on twitter.

Well, numbers beat the argument that, "you better need to innovate". Today thousand of companies around the world are focusing more on imitating than on innovating. And the irony here is that, we tend to call an imitation, innovation sometimes.

Imitation can be done in three possible ways:

1] Absolute imitation is the practice of copying the whole idea for the development of the products and services in the same market segment. For example, Gramin bank innovated the concept of micro credit, and it soon became a big success story. Today many national and multinational banks have imitated that idea and selling their own micro credit products in the rural and semi rural markets.

2] Partial imitation is the second kind of imitation. In it, companies use to imitate only some part of innovative idea from a particular market. And they imitate several such ideas from different innovating markets, to create their own version of innovation. For example, most of the research work in academia now a day follows this kind of imitation.

3] Finally, transformed imitation. This is the most innovative kind of imitation. In it, companies understand an innovative idea from a particular field and then transform that idea to make it suitable for another different field. For example, use of JIT and TPS concepts in hospitality industry and judiciary. This type of imitation is the most rewarding one, and over the years, companies have made billions of profits using it.

The smartness of imitation stems from the fact that companies save billions of dollars just by imitating an idea from somewhere. The successful experience of an idea from one field also reduces the possibility of its failure in the same or different field. You can read an interesting article on it: why imitation beats innovation.
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