If necessity is the Mother of Inventions, who do you think is going to work just a little bit harder and imagine just a little bit more expansively – a young company on the cusp of transformation or a Fortune 500 behemoth? Developing nations and young companies are more likely to stretch their energies and imaginations because they have more to gain than lose. Just as younger employees challenge us through their energy and imagination; growth companies and economies are sources of imagination and energy that can revitalize an existing business.
Take the case of China’s Haier, a manufacturer of washing machines. Despite the rapid rise in China’s economic fortunes, selling washing machines in rural areas is still quite challenge. Rather than driving sales with increased technology, Haier focuses on understanding the rural customers’ unique requirements. Through observational studies in rural areas, they found that customers used their washing machines to wash vegetables as well as clothes. A few modifications enabled them to re-position the machines as doing both and became the market leader in rural areas. (see https://bit.ly/6E92J5)
In a similar vein, John Deere’s Indian tractors are designed with square bumpers versus the round ones used in the United States. Why? Tractors serve multiple purposes in India including taking children to school and square bumpers are far more comfortable for seating.
Innovations sparked by necessity are now migrating. The French yogurt giant, Group Danone, built microplants in Bangladesh in part because of the lack of refrigerated storage. These tiny plants were able to produce yogurt at nearly the same cost as larger plants. Lessons learned in Bangladesh help launch Ecopack, a low-cost product line in France. (https://bit.ly/QViON)
Go wider to tap areas where necessity is stimulating new thinking.