Strategic innovation in Russian Railways
October 16, 2018 at IE Business School, Madrid, Spain
Whilst creativity is about divergent thinking – opening up to explore new perspectives, make new connections, generate more ideas – innovation is about convergent thinking – evaluating the best ideas, focusing on making them practical and profitable, then making them happen effectively.
In my book “Creative Genius” we explore Leonardo da Vinci’s 8 principles, then apply them to today’s business world: being curious, exploring margins, reframing context, visualisation, resolving paradox, balancing art and science, making new connections and being alive.
Innovation in most companies is still mostly about products and services, whereas innovation has most impact when applied to business models and customer experiences. We therefore focus on business innovation, driven by your purpose and opportunity, and by thinking hard about what is the problem we are trying to solve, and the impact we want to make. Innovation is therefore particularly about five important factors, looking across the whole business to open up, and then close down:
- Design thinking – embracing “insight” to understand the deeper motivations and aspirations of customers, through deep-dive immersion with individuals, connecting analytics with observation and intuition. Design thinking is about better defining the challenge – problem, opportunity – then being more human, creative and real in solving it.
- Making connections – fusing ideas to create richer “concepts”, but also learning from other places, from “parallel” markets where the same customers are already embracing change and new ideas, and then applying to your own market, as a pioneer. Connecting initial ideas into concepts makes them stronger and more distinctive.
- Creative disruption – how to be different, to challenge the conventions, break the rules, and redefine the markets in a different way – for example by technological simplification, or new customer behaviour. This creates rethinking – changing the who, why, what and how – and can potentially recalibrate the market.
- New business models – more dramatic and sustainable innovation usually involves changing the way the business works – in particular through new partnerships, and creating new revenue streams built around a strong value proposition at the core – this focuses on value propositions and business model design.
- Accelerating action – facilitating your best ideas to market better and faster, through challenge and support, bringing your best people together, adding external ideas to internal expertise, and disciplined process. This includes “lean thinking” techniques from minimal viable products, prototyping and then vortex market adoption.
Russian Railways is Russia’s leading railway company and one of the largest companies in the global transport sector. The Company is a natural monopoly and fully owned by the Russian Federation. Our primary goal is to meet the state’s rail transport and employment needs, and to provide services to passengers.
Russian Railways is
- one of the largest freight carriers in the world (third in the world by freight turnover)
- ranked fourth in the world for passenger rail transportation
- a leading contributor by size to the Russian economy (about 1.6% of GDP in 2013)
- supported by the Russian Federation.
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