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Leapfrogging To Pole-Vaulting – An Excerpt

The Cambridge Dictionary defines leapfrogging as ‘making improvements to your position by going past other people quickly or by missing out some stages’.

By definition, pole-vaulting requires you to go over a bar. In innovation, such bars are set by one’s limited aspirations or by the perceived limitations of current technologies. The core idea of ‘pole-vaulting’ as opposed to ‘leapfrogging’ is the only way forward that expresses the deeply felt need for speed, considering our keen awareness of the fact that time is running out fast.

Dr Mashelkar and Mr Pandit ably show in Leapfrogging to Pole-Vaulting: Creating the Magic of Radical yet Sustainable Transformation that-as an interplay of global issues constantly raise the bar for innovation today-there has never been a better time to use our learnings to pole-vault over those bars into a new future! An exhilarating manifesto for the future, this book convinces readers to make the shift from reactive leapfrogging to proactive pole-vaulting through radical transformation.

Here is an insightful excerpt:


In a corporate world, the pole is the supporting talent, technologies and tools. However, the question still remains: Why does one need to go from leapfrogging to pole-vaulting? A shift away from leapfrogging and approaching innovations with an attitude of a pole-vaulter will take us towards progress in the true sense of the word. A 10 per cent increase in performance is an incremental innovation.

It is easy. You are doing what everyone is doing, but only slightly better. A 100 per cent increase in performance in a short time is more difficult. It requires innovation at another level. This is, still, leapfrogging.

When this increase is 1000 per cent however, a 10x improvement, it is then that we are talking of transformational innovation, progress in its true sense. This is what we would call pole-vaulting. We need a 10x change in the demands of ourselves as a community of innovators, creators, sellers, buyers and policymakers.

It is time we stop being happy with a 20 per cent reduction in price, but instead look at twenty fold price improvement.

This is not unachievable. Such aspirations have led to unimagined cost reductions. For instance, until ten years ago an ECG machine used to cost around $10,000.*

When an innovative mind, Rahul Rastogi, applied himself, a $70 version was developed that made ¢8 tests possible. This is not all. This machine is portable and can be used in the remotest corners of the world.

Similarly, a business challenged itself to make high-speed, 4G Internet available at ¢10 per GB, with free voice calls, for a billion people, and did it—that is Jio in India. Only when we set ourselves such lofty aims are today’s successes—such as 1 billion Aadhaar registrations in India—conceivable. This book is all about pole-vaulting towards a new future, a future that is radically and not just marginally different, a future that is radically transformed and is yet sustainable. And this has to be achieved notwithstanding all the formidable obstacles, either perceived or real. We capture the essence of the pole-vaulting innovation processes, products and people, which has made the seemingly impossible, possible.


Leapfrogging to Pole-Vaulting: Creating the Magic of Radical yet Sustainable Transformation is dotted with inspiring case studies that can instil confidence in people from across the world to put this framework into practice for assured success.

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