Tuck Business School is usually ranked in the top 5 in the country. Its professors are well known in the area of business strategy and have come up with some important ideas and concepts.
One of them is Vijay Govindarajan. He grew up in India in a lower middle class neighborhood in a one bedroom house with his parents and five brothers and sisters. Electricity couldn’t be counted on. He figured that India had few resources and lots of problems. If he wanted to get ahead he was going to have to be innovative. He feels that the only way to move up, either as a person or a corporation is to be creative and innovate.
Vijay went to Harvard Business School on a Ford Foundation scholarship. The scholarship required that he spend two full years in India after graduation. But then he got a job offer from Harvard Business School and they required him to start work one week before the full two years were up. Neither Harvard or the Ford Foundation would budge and Vijay had to pay the Ford Foundation back for his business school education.
He was struggling to get by when a more senior professor suggested that he try doing some consulting on the side. He did and loved it and found that it provided a great synergy to his teaching and research. He was able to get in and see what companies were doing and not just do things from an ivory tower more theoretical approach.
One key idea this has led to is Reverse Innovation. Reverse innovation is the process of inventing or designing products for use in underdeveloped or emerging markets. Then you bring those products back to the wealthier countries.
Example / Inspiration
He came up with this idea of course while consulting. In this case, he was consulting with GE. He saw that they had developed an ultrasound for the Chinese market that only cost $5,000 and was portable. In the US an ultrasound machine with similar function costs $300,000. GE brought this machine to the wealthier countries and sold a ton of them. But they didn’t understand what they had done because it was such a small event in such a large company. Vijay picked up on this and used it as a focus for his research. He also told GE’s CEO Jeffrey Imelt about his discovery and Imelt jumped on the idea. He made it a major focus for the following year.