I believe India is in the early stages of an innovation and design explosion of enormous proportions—this is my conclusion after attending the CII-NID (Confederation of Indian Industry—National Institute of Design) Summit in Bangalore. If you are not already in India, you are late. This is true for manufacturing as well as services, industrial design as well as interaction web design. Go!
Why? Business is just beginning to wake up to the power of design and innovation in India. And the level of sophistication within the design and innovation community is extremely high. When the two connect, you will see an explosion of exports and a new surge of services coming out of India. I believe you will see it come at the same time from low-end manufacturing, such as cars, clothes and food, as well as the high, high-tech end in outsourcing. Keep in mind that
one of India's most exportable items is its amazing culture. The emphasis on being natural, emotional, authentic, colorful, spiritual, vibrant, fun--make it intensely attractive. Indian culture, in many ways, is what many young Americans and Europeans want in their lives. And it connects deeply to Brazilian, Italian and other cultures as well.
All kinds of products and services will come out of Indian culture. We are already seeing it in terms of Ayurvedic medicine and spas spreading in the US, Bollywood, of course, vedic management practices in business. We will much more of this as the fresh, vegetarian grains and foods begin to be packaged and sold worldwide, as the clothing industry takes off and as car manufacturing comes into its own. There is an amazing truck culture in India, where truck bodies are made locally and painted by local artists.
At the Summit, I was especially struck by the brilliant opening speech of Darlie Koshy, the Director of the National Institute of Design. He could have been talking at Institute of Design in Chicago or Stanford. Koshy said that design was about many things, from styling to strategy. He said that design thinking was going to be very important to India as it evolved its economy. Service innovation was critical since 69% of the Indian economy today was in services (very different from China).
Koshy said that India needed to develop design and innovation ecosystems, such as Stanford, where schools, business and consultancies came together to spark startups and create value. He called for big investments in design to get that done. Indeed, the government has just committed itself to expanding the number of design schools to meet the growing demand for designers and design thinkers in India.
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