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Innovation insights for Intrapreneurs - Mr. Ravi Arora -VP, Group Innovation -Tata Sons

Updated: Nov 26, 2022

In this blog post, we share valuable insights from Mr. Ravi Arora – Vice president of Group Innovation, Tata Sons who spoke at the third edition of Intrapreneurship conclave in March 2021. He is the author of two books. Making Innovations happen – The Tata way and Igniting Innovation. According to him, research has proved that innovation works best when mavericks and sherpas work together in pairs. While mavericks are creative thinkers, they also need sherpas as in mountain climbing who can guide them through what he calls ladder crossing. He used this analogy to bring home the point that value innovation can be created if established organizations and start-ups work together. He emphasized that Innovation is always a top-down approach essentially because of the need to own risk of potential failure and insulate team from fear of consequences. He showcased five boxes of innovation that organizations can explore.

Product innovation

Product innovation is a process of creating new products using radically new technologies or improving existing products with better functionalities. A good product, when upgraded regularly helps in growth and bringing profits. Product innovation is easier to scale than service innovation. And this is why the model of Service as a Product has been so successful. Airbnb, Uber, and Fivers were able to scale and turn big profits. There are three broad categories of Product Innovation

New Product Development (NPD)-

NPD goes through 7 stages before entering the market - Idea generation, idea screening, concept development, and testing, market strategy, product development, market testing, and market entry.

Improvement of an existing product-

When new products are launched in the market, their potential is not fully exploited. Incremental innovations can improve the functionalities of the products, hence lead to more satisfied consumers.

New features to a product

Innovation can also be a process of improving a product by making meaningful modifications or adding new features to it. It is critical to understand what kind of feature is most suitable for the product because not all features will be valued. The introduction of features is both risky and important.

Design innovation

Design innovation is a unique blend of design thinking, computational thinking, maker culture, and business. Design innovation will always focus on what a product or service looks like. However, the real advantage comes from what it does and how it functions. It determines how the end-user will experience, interact, and respond to the product or service.

Service innovation

Service innovation is the process of delivering utilities and services to the customer as per their needs. Service innovation works with the approach in which the various division staffs collaborate keeping the client in mind. There are different ways of innovations can happen in services:

Holistic - The whole organization is engaged in the service innovation process. The full emphasis is not on the customers but also on taking the company's staff and internal business into consideration.

Consumer-centric- It focuses on identifying customer desires to make services more user-friendly, sustainable, and meaningful. A satisfactory consumer interface is the main priority.

Interdisciplinary - Both, the customers and staff collaborate to create multidisciplinary teams. The team get engrossed in the challenge and try out new ideas.

Service innovation involves three techniques:

Analysis: Use of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to better understand personnel and customers in service environments

Ideation: Coming up with creative and human-centered methods of new services and delivery

Service prototyping: The method of evaluating new technologies and testing of waters before investing outrageous sums of money in their expansion.

Environmental and Social cause innovation

Social cause innovation refers to the method of developing and executing new and effective solutions to solve social or environmental issues. Social innovation is meant to have a long-term impact on a large scale. It is traditionally advanced through non-profit organizations, but the business community has also started to openly address society’s challenges as for-profit social businesses.

Process innovation

The adoption of a brand-new or significantly improved manufacturing or delivery system is referred to as process innovation. Process innovations may be made to improve quality, provide new or significantly improved products, or reduce unit costs of manufacturing or delivery. Examples include the deployment of a new reservation system in a travel agency or the introduction of GPS monitoring devices for transportation services.

Three take aways for Intrapreneurial community!

1. Innovation needs mavericks and sherpas alike

2. Culture of innovation is a top-down approach

3. Intrapreneurial Ideas can be implemented across all functions in the value chain (product, design, service, process) and be both for profit or for social and environmental good.

Internal Ideation is key to stay relevant with changing environments and a dynamic customer delight. Unfold helps organizations in igniting an innovation culture amongst employees through intrapreneurship. To know more about how Unfold can support you in your growth initiatives, visit

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