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Chinovation: mastering execution

I’ve been wondering recently about the soul of Chinovation. Last night, I just connected three dots:

  • At his conference on innovation a week ago, Marc Giget reminded us that half of inventions of European Renaissance originated from China. At the time – and until the 18th century – China represented roughly a quarter of the world economy, before crashing down in the 19th century as industrial revolution took off in Europe. Never allowing China to fall behind the rest of the world on technology has been a major driver for the current resurgence of China as an economic and political giant.
  • Unlike Indovation, Chinovation does not seem to have a distinctive flavour yet. This may change as China becomes a major consumer market in the upcoming decade, as Tan Yinglan demonstrates in Chinnovation – How Chinese Innovation is going to Change the World. But for now the bulk of China’s economic wealth has been created by becoming the manufacturing hub of the world.
  • Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble highlighted in their book The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge the need to master the execution capability in order to enable creativity to really turn into innovation. The equation that tells it all is:

Innovation  =  Creativity  x  Execution.

So here is the point: in its current form, Chinovation is all about mastering the execution side of the equation, or, by now, I should say having mastered the execution side of the equation. Among countless examples, the flawlessly organised Beijing Olympics stand out as a beacon of China’s execution capabilities. Of course, the execution bit is far from being as exciting as the creativity bit, which explains why I feel that Chinovation does not have a soul just yet. But in the next 5 or 10 years, as the rise of the Chinese consumer spurs the creativity side of the equation, watch out for full-blown innovation coming from China on a massive scale .

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