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An Innovation, Great And Small

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FreibergsÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¾ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ book, which has been written very animatedly, would only moderately satiate your curiosity about how the worldÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¾ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢s cheapest car was developed. Small Wonder, on the other hand, has a monotonous tone, but has much more details. For instance, it has tapped the development of the engine far better.

Nanovation has some specific details such as the development of the electronic control unit (ECU) by Bosch from scratch to cut cost by 80 per cent. Why is the instrument cluster in the middle of the dashboard? To avoid extra costs of developing a left-hand drive model. Or, how was the instrument cluster itself designed? It was borrowed by Delphi from the motorcycle. Rubber flooring is meant to lower cabin noise and is also easy to clean. How the worldÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¾ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢s biggest tyre makers scoffed at the idea of small tyres, while MRF delivered. That Ratan was rehearsing till 3 am the night before the Nano launch at DelhiÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¾ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢s Auto Expo, as he wanted to make sure the car stopped on the turntable, rather than off it. He returned at 7 am to rework the launch programme backstage.

Small Wonder has laid greater emphasis on practically every aspect of the development ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â‚¬Å¡ÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚from the setting up of the teams to the design to the interiors to various mules and RatanÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¾ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢s growing frustration and enormous patience with the project. His uncompromising stance on having four doors and a highly reliable braking system, though he relented on different sizes of tyres for front and back. Or, that the Nano has only 2,000 parts against Tata IndicaÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¾ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢s 3,000.

There are three defining, but disruptive, features of Nanovation: one, the pictures and the design blueprints have been chosen aptly. Two, it has plenty of (what one of my former colleagues described as) intelligent trivia scattered through the pages. Sample this: ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'¢â‚¬Â¦ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…“The social cost of road accidents is 3 per cent of IndiaÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¾ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢s GDP.ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'¢â‚¬Å¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚ Three, it seems the India edition of the book written by US writers has been ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â‚¬Å¡ÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚ to borrow from automobile vocabulary ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â‚¬Å¡ÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚ homologated for Indian readers by presenting figures in lakhs and crores rather than the oddity of Rupees million that barely a handful of Indians use.

The authors seem to have worked hard on sprinkling a plethora of quotes to connect with specific situations during the development of the Nano. From Albert Einstein to Marilyn Monroe to Benjamin Franklin and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, all have been quoted. But since it has been done ever so often, at times, the quotes seem forced. As is the entire concept of trying to eke out ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'¢â‚¬Â¹ÃÆ'ƒâ€¦ÃÆ'¢â‚¬Åâ€Å"innovationÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¾ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ lessons, which the entire book seems to be devoted to.

This effort to extract management lessons out of the development of the car is a laudable effort, but it fails to connect with the reader. Because it is right through the book and almost seems like a boring mimicry trying to pep up a Mr Bean show. Perfunctorily comparing it with the iPod on one hand and the Nintendo Wii on the other, with no real insights on the latter two adds no value and serves no purpose except dampening the excitement of the reading.

This is not the book you would want to read if your sole objective is to learn about the Nano. For that, Small Wonder is more fulfilling. It does not have the quotes, the lessons, the intelligent trivia and all those sketches. Further, it has few pictures. Nevertheless, it satisfies you more than Nanovation does.

Authors' Details:
Kevin and Jackie Freiberg are founders of the San Diego Consulting Group, and co-authors of Boom!, Guts! and Nuts! Dain Dunston is creative director and speech coach, who has worked with IBM, Brinker Int., Sherwin-Williams, etc.

Philip Chacko, Christabelle Noronha and Sujata Agrawal work in the corporate affairs unit of the Tata Group.
(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 14-02-2011)

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