Finding Great Ideas in Emerging Markets: The Idea in Practice – Nathan T. Washburn and B. Tom Hunsaker – Harvard Business Review

In business and academy, one thing is always true: the ground breaking ideas come from real life, not from textbooks, seminars, journals and classrooms. Rooting deeply in reality by constantly being alert to changes in real life has the best chance to win. 

Emerging markets are full of potential because hardly anything there is mature, stable or institutionalized. This is why cross cultural studies make us smarter 

We’ve heard from countless managers like him who have seized on what they believe to be a game-changing innovation that they cannot get senior leaders to pay attention to. The reality is that in many organizations, most transformative ideas are never even heard.

These managers realize that most transformative ideas developed in emerging markets are filtered out by their existing structures and they want to remedy this situation.

Companies must better utilize their managers as critical sources of primary data. In the overwhelming majority of the companies we’ve studied, transformative ideas came from managers who saw market gaps and opportunities, not from surveys or aggregated studies. On the ground intentional observation of customers, suppliers and competitors spark insights. The best in class companies task their managers with scouting ideas and provide them with the skills they need to bring the idea back to the organization and make sure it gets heard.

The life cycle of a transformative idea is fragile and must be protected. Even ideas that gather organizational support are likely to die before ever being implemented. The most successful firms in our study recognized this and created structures that improve the likelihood of implementation. They ensure that home office managers have the right skills and political capital to champion the best insights from the field.

via Finding Great Ideas in Emerging Markets: The Idea in Practice – Nathan T. Washburn and B. Tom Hunsaker – Harvard Business Review.

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