"Managers should not try to innovate, they innovate," said Mr R. Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director, Tata Sons, who also heads the Tata Group Innovation Forum (TGIF). He was speaking to newspersons at a roundtable discussion on 'Innovations and Innovativeness – The Tata Experience'.
From the Tata group's point of view, the Nano people's car, the Ace pickup, the Ginger budget hotel chain, the Indica passenger car, the Indian Institute of Science, Tata Steel and the Taj Mahal Hotel are among its 25 major innovations.
"Today, we talk about the global software offshore delivery model which was developed by TCS way back in the 1970s," said Mr Gopalakrishnan. TGIF started a process called 'Tata Innovista' to recognise innovations within the group. It has identified major initiatives between 1892 and 2008.
"In 2006, we had 101 innovations within the group, which had gone up to 1,665 in 2009. Similarly in 2006, we had 33 group companies and now we have 62," said Mr Sunil Sinha, Chief Executive Officer, Tata Quality Management Services.
Making cement from soda ash slurry (2004), development of the world's thinnest watch, the Titan Edge (2002), setting up of Tata Consultancy Service in 1968 and Tata Airlines in 1932 have also been identified as major innovations.
Mr Gopalakrishnan said that group companies were sharing their research and technology roadmaps, infrastructure, skills and competencies to come up with successful innovations. "One of the companies has come up with an innovation which would address the need for clean water in disaster-hit areas. Two others are working on making it more accessible," he said.