The Renaissance Innovator

Thoughts, examples and updates on the Renaissance Innovation Method

Posts by Karan Girotra

Extreme Focus and the Success of Germany’s Mittelstand

Posted on February 13, 2013


In a recent post on Harvard Business Review bloggers network, we discuss the extreme focus business model of Germany’s famed Mittlestand: Quick test: name one company that does one thing and does it very well. The companies that occupy the limelight are typically diversified giants that achieve growth through constant expansion into new markets and the introduction of additional product lines (just think P&G, GE, and Microsoft). But the truth is that the really successful companies are highly focused, achieving unprecedented efficiencies by designing a business model with a razor-thin focus and learning to do the one thing really well. Many of us academics still teach an old case about Shouldice Hospital, which only treats simple cases of hernias and nothing else but does it…

Business Model Innovation: The Gift that Keeps Giving

Posted on December 6, 2012


In a recent blog post on the Harvard Business Review bloggers network,  we discuss the sustainability of the advantage that come  from innovating the business model. With the Winter holiday shopping season, fashion apparel retailer Zara has been the focus of media attention — the New York Times recently profiled the innovative fast fashion business model pioneered by Zara, while Elizabeth Cline’s book on the costs of fast fashion has climbed up the sales charts. Despite this very recent popularity, the novel business model of Zara has gone virtually unnoticed for over 30 years, allowing Zara’s parent company, Inditex, to grow from zero to almost $20B in revenues. Why wasn’t it copied immediately? How can it be so sustainable and continue growing? The answer lies in a different type…

Outclassing Sourcing Champions

Posted on May 28, 2012


With  increasing  specialization,  technological complexity, and globalization, firms now buy a long list of products and services from many outside providers. In industries like automobiles, consumer electronics and retail, reliably sourcing a multitude of products from supply chain partners is the key to success. Li and Fung limited, one of the worlds fastest growing companies,  is fundamentally altering this  sourcing landscape and is simultaneously changing the game in these industries which rely deeply on sourcing. It is a company which owns no production, transportation or retail facilities, but by becoming the key link in  the sourcing  practices of some of the worlds best known companies like Gap, Benetton  and Walmart, has found a novel winning formula. So how has this firm created a multi-billion dollar business…

Generating New Business Opportunities

Posted on April 3, 2012


Over the last 2 weeks, I have been teaching a newly developed INSEAD MBA course  on Identifying New Business Opportunities (INBO).  The class is structured as a hands on  experiential workshop that combines three novel approaches to Innovation/Entrepreneurship: Business Model Innovation, Idea Tournaments and Lean Startups/Discovery Driven Planning. As regular readers of this blog know, Business Model Innovation is all about  identifying entrepreneurial opportunities via innovating the business models in existing competitive industries. Idea Tournaments is a process that leverages the wisdom of the crowd for selecting and developing amongst new business opportunities. Discovery-driven planning  philosophy prioritizes tasks to limit entrepreneurial risk. Taken together, these approaches are in contrast to the conventional serendipitous, solitary  process of innovation and it instead provides a systematic, risk-limiting pathway to realizing innovative outcomes.…

SXSW: INSEAD @ South by Southwest

Posted on March 18, 2012


The 2012 edition of the South by Southwest conference (SWSX)  wrapped up in Austin last week. Over the last years, this  has become one of hottest stops on the startup circuit, earning a reputation as the biggest breeding ground for new ideas and creative technologies– notably, both foursquare and twitter  catapulted to the big leagues after they  presented early versions at SWSX.  To coincide with all the buzz around SXSW,  I  decided to spend a better part of  this week’s sessions of Identifying New Business Opportunities, an MBA class I am currently teaching, discussing some of the hottest trends from the conference.  A small contingent from the class had attended  SXSW and they got us started by  sharing what caught their attention at the conference (Thanks Nicole, Charlotte…

The Henry Ford of Cardiac Surgery

Posted on February 15, 2012


Cardiac surgery is a sophisticated, dangerous and delicate procedure; but an Indian surgeon and his hospital group have successfully transformed  it into a factory style mass operation, bringing high quality care to the many millions who could never before afford it. Dr. Devi Shetty’s  Bangalore based flagship, 1,000-bed Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospital,  charges $2,000, on average, for open-heart surgery, compared with hospitals in the U.S. that are paid between $20,000 and $100,000, depending on the complexity of the surgery. Narayana Hrudayalaya reports a 1.4% mortality rate within 30 days of coronary artery bypass graft surgery, one of the most common procedures, compared with an average of 1.9% in the U.S. in 2008, according to data gathered by the Chicago-based Society of Thoracic Surgeons. This despite the fact…

The Renaissance Innovator joins the INSEAD bloggers network!

Posted on January 22, 2012


From today, our blog, The Renaissance Innovator, is part of the official INSEAD bloggers network. So if you arrived here through the INSEAD blog, Welcome to our blog and read on for what this blog is about. For our loyal regular readers, nothing changes, you can read our blog posts exactly as you did before, and  we’d also recommend checking out some of the other excellent posts on the INSEAD blog. I often open my industry engagements on innovation with a simple thought experiment for our participants — I  ask them to think of the most innovative organizations and identify what exactly they did that made them so innovative. The answers we hear are very predictable– no matter if we pose this question to…