Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Nanovation - How a Little Car Can Teach the World to Think Big

Authors:       Kevin and Jackie Freiberg,
                    Dain Dunston
Published:    2010
Publisher:    Penguin Books India
Paperback: 372 pages
Buy from Flipkart

"Nanovation is the authorized story of how a little car is teaching the world to think big, the story of an incredible team of engineers, designers and business people who decided to develop a safe,affordable, all-weather form of transportation for a vast growing market - middle-class India - and solve  a problem that was holding it back: how to get around." (Excerpt from the Prologue of this book).
And the  little car is -  Nano which has hit the Indian roads.

This  is certainly one of the most interesting and fascinating book I have read in recent times.
While Nano has been on the roads for almost 2 years, the story behind its making was a real inspiring revelation for me when I read this book. I felt  proud that an Indian company Tata Motors has "created one of the greatest innovations in the auto industry since Model-T" as the blurb on the back cover of this book puts it.

Today India is more known as an IT Outsourcing Hub rather than an Innovative Design and Manufacturing Center. Hope the achievement of  Tata Motors changes the way the world looks at India when they read this book after its global launch later this year (at the time of writing this blog post, the book is for sale only in India and Singapore).

However there is one disappointing fact that Nano sales have really not picked up as expected and also there have been several cases of its going up in flames all of a sudden. But I am sure the Team Nano will exhibit the same grit and spirit to overcome these teething problems. Nowadays whenever I spot a Nano, I pause and have a more closer look than ever before. Hope to buy one someday (may be after the Santro which I currently own has served its purpose).

Now let me come back to the book. The book is much more than the story of Nano. It is also a great lesson on the process of Innovation (or Nanovation as authors put it)  using Nano and many other examples as case studies. The book is in four parts.

The first two parts describes the story of Nano - starting right at the beginning  when the idea for Nano germinated when Ratan Tata, CEO, Tata Motors  witnessed a minor scooter accident during a monsoon in Bangalore in 2002 till the Nano is finally rolled out for sale in 2009.

Part Three discusses the Eight Rules of Nanovation - the must haves to foster creativity and innovation in any organization:
1. Get Wired for Nanovation
2. Lead the Revolution
3. Build a Culture of Innovation
4. Question the Unquestionable
5. Look beyond Customer Imagination
6. Go to the Intersection of Trends
7. Solve a Problem That Matters
8. Risk More, Fail Faster, Bounce Back Stronger

Part Four is about Nanovation Effect. Authors state that the story of Nanovation does not end with the delivery of the car to the buyers. They believe that the success story of Nano will spawn a diverse and far-reaching movement in business and design that will radically change the way we think about products and companies that make them.

A must read for everyone who needs doses of inspiration to think big, be brave, act bold and achieve the seemingly impossible !

The book is in 31 chapters and at the end of each chapter the key points of the chapters are summarized under the headings Nanobites and Questions.
I am providing just a couple of samples below. 
If that leaves you asking for more, then you may download a complete compilation of Nanobites and Questions  (11 pages, 579 KB, PDF file) .
 And if  you do so don't forget to send out a silent thanks to me !(-: 
 I spent nearly 6-8 hours typing them out ! (-: )

Nanobites from Chapter 3: The Culture of Thinking Big

  • Innovation requires thick skin. Where do you get it? From a deep-seated belief in what you are doing.
  • Avoid the incumbent’s mentality-the more market share you own the easier it is to be set in your ways.
  • Question your expertise- sometimes experts know what is not possible so well that they miss out what is possible.
  • Evaluate the risk of a big idea based on your track record. Do you have a history of rising to the occasion and winning?

Questions from Chapter 19: Leading Through Crisis

  • When faced with a crisis where do you find your leaders? On the frontline? In the trenches? At the point of action? Or somewhere else? 
  • The coverage of conviction exemplified in a leader’s unbending resolve to do what’s right gives followers hope and willpower to persevere. How do you measure up in a crisis?

1 comment:

SPVarma's Blog said...

Hello sir, really nano is a great car. I am an engineer and the extreme innovations in a little car always fascinates me. I wrote an article on tata nano and i am taking my 1/43 scaled nanos' around the world. You can view my article on

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