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Vijay Govindarajan: innovation coach to the developed and developing world

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 6 September 2011




The purpose of this paper is to present an interview by Strategy & Leadership with Professor Vijay Govindarajan, one of the world's foremost experts on innovation execution and the co‐author of The Other Side of Innovation (2010), which discusses innovating for emerging markets, building the right innovation team, innovation planning as learning, and his newest concept, emotional infrastructure.


Govindarajan explains how companies use the “forget‐borrow‐learn” framework to drive innovation execution. They “forget” the core business success formula, “borrow” key assets from core business, and “learn” to resolve unknowns.


The paper finds that to manage innovation a special plan should be created to guide disciplined experiments for quicker learning. Quicker learning leads to better decisions, and better decisions lead to better results. A special innovation initiative team should also be created: a partnership between a dedicated team (using a mix of insiders and outsiders, with new job descriptions) and shared staff, who support the project while sustaining its performance engine responsibilities.

Practical implications

Do not “isolate” new businesses or “spin them off.” This forfeits the advantage of using existing assets, such as brands, manufacturing facilities, relationships with customers, areas of technical expertise and much more.


Today reverse innovation, taking unique business models from poor countries to rich ones, is a winning formula. But new organizational systems are required so that full business capabilities for reverse innovation in emerging markets – including product development, manufacturing, and marketing – are possible.



Leavy, B. (2011), "Vijay Govindarajan: innovation coach to the developed and developing world", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 39 No. 5, pp. 4-12.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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