Learning from Asian innovation!

Maybe it’s a stereotype to think that Asia is the most futuristic and innovation driven continent… but what are they doing different from Western countries to stand out?

It’s well known that the Eastern culture is constantly compared with the Western one. In fact, there are some studies that analyzed the business approach to understand their respective behavior when facing their corresponding market. According to a recent study from the Danish University Foundation, there are four main elements that contribute to the Asian technique when creating a new business:

  • Suitable: Products fit customers budgets and needs precisely.
  • Letting go: Asian companies are willing to change style, image, even line of business if they sense a market opportunity.
  • Fluidity: The business environment expects and supports change and it’s tolerant of uncertainty.
  • Catching up: Asian companies are young, their organizational structures are flexible, and there’s an urgency in their efforts to grow.

Definitely, these components sound really simple, but the differentiator is that they’ve learned how to use them strategically. An Asian company will more likely start by listening closely to market needs and identifying an opportunity. It will typically work from the products and technologies that are already available, and adjust them with a deep understanding of what price, quality and features their customers want. On the other hand, Western companies will spend a long time planning and analyzing before they start developing their next big bet.

Asian companies are often fast followers. Once they see a smart and successful new feature they are set up to rapidly develop similar and cheaper versions. This strategy removes the risk of spending heavily on research for products that may fail. It also allows companies to make lots of small bets by launching frequent adjustments.

The difference is clearly illustrated by comparing Apple computer and Samsung. Apple offers one basic type of phone, and new versions have been launched once a year. Samsung launches more than a hundred new handsets every year, and they offer versions for every possible market segment.

At the end of the day, these are a few simple elements that help us understand the Asian way of creating innovation. Learning about their thinking process can ease the adaptation of good practices to the corresponding market. Even though each culture is different, having a glance over others can widen our perspective to take opportunities and create new businesses.

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