The Renaissance Innovator

Thoughts, examples and updates on the Renaissance Innovation Method

Posts from the “Examples” Category

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…

Innovating Presidential Elections: What Can one Learn from the Russian Experience?

Posted on March 11, 2012


Recent presidential elections in Russia have drawn worldwide attention over the last few months.  There was, however, one aspect of elections which did not receive as much coverage in the western press (at least in my opinion).  Of course, elections have been held the world over, in pretty much the same way for many decades. But for this Russian election, the  authorities implemented a very interesting and very significant, in my view, business model innovation.  What is the key issue in conducting elections in a country like Russia?  It is, of course, the doubt in public minds whether elections will be fair.  It is relatively easy to seed disbelief in the minds of the public: after all, it is bodies controlled by the current…

What is the “best” way to innovate?

Posted on March 4, 2012


MIT Sloan Management Review just came out with the latest 2012 picks for the world’s most innovative companies. This is a great list which includes 50 very interesting companies (mostly young) in a number of industries. While I enjoyed reading about these innovative companies, I could not help but be once again disappointed with the exclusive focus on product and technology innovators on the list and the lack of Business Model Innovators. Why?  I think first and foremost, it is very easy to “see” new products and technologies: when one sees a new iPhone or iPad it is quite easy to tell that this is a new product.  On the other hand, new Business Models can be operated by companies for many years before…

Making Cars Electric, One Country at a Time

Posted on February 25, 2012


Not that long ago, I talked about one of the most interesting startups I know of, an Israeli company called Better Place, which has the promise to accomplish what 170 years of technology innovation failed to achieve. What I am talking about is the elusive dream of electric vehicles and the constant struggle of word’s best scientists to combat two basic issues with electric vehicles: the range anxiety and the high cost of batteries.  Better Place has recognized that, where technology has failed to improve the world, a different kind of innovation is needed: a business model innovation which uses the same battery technology but fundamentally changes allocation of risks between the company and the customer, a true example of Renaissance Innovation.  There were…

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…

Is there such thing as fair price?

Posted on January 31, 2012


  Among Renaissance Innovations that dramatically changed airline industries around the world is dynamic pricing.  Now we take for granted that a person sitting next to you on the plane might have paid a fraction of what you paid.  However, it was not always this way.  Only about 30 years ago, for instance, US airline industry was heavily regulated with almost no price fluctuations.  But then the industry was deregulated and the airlines became free to set any prices they like. Like it was the case with some other innovations, dynamic pricing was born out of necessity: major legacy airlines were under intense pressure to compete with low-cost carriers which were undercutting them on prices. However, the casualty of that battle was not the…

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…

Changing the Way People Give…

Posted on January 9, 2012


The world is full of problems– poverty, malnutrition,  medical access,  climate change, natural disasters, etc. It is also full of many tenacious do-gooders  with solutions,  and thankfully many generous souls who would like to financially support  these do-gooders.  Unfortunately,  the “marketplace”   that  matches the do-gooders with solutions is what economists would call very inefficient, that is many matches that are in the interest of  everyone involved are not made. GlobalGiving, GiveIndia and a new breed of startup donation platforms are attacking these inefficiencies with a new business model for charitable giving and forever changing the way people give. More  interestingly, how can we apply some of the renaissance innovation techniques that we talk about on this blog to take giving to the next level? Read…

To focus or not to focus (on patients, that is)?

Posted on January 4, 2012


As I am preparing for a teaching session in a couple of weeks in Moscow, I realized that we had not written about one of the older but even more relevant today innovation.  Some months back I blogged about a very cool startup Diapers.com which was founded by my former students in 2005 and which was recently acquired by Amazon.com. The company created an impressive business model by focusing on a very narrow segment of the market and by eliminating lots of risks/uncertainties associated with diversification.  As it turns out, the same concept can and has been applied to services, and not just any services: to healthcare.  Given all the recent buzz about high costs and poor quality of healthcare in the USA, it…

A New Model for Gifts!

Posted on December 24, 2011


Christmas is in the air and I am sure many of you have been buying gifts for your loved ones.  Not to be the Grinch– but there is strong empirical evidence  that shows that gift-giving destroys a third of gift value. Gift-receivers on average, value  gifts a third less than what the gift giver paid for it!   Essentially, gifts are really inefficient ways to show you care.  But, a startup conceived and developed in one of our classes on renaissance innovation has an elegant solution to offer.