Three Box Solution: VG’s Mantra for Strategy @ MYRA

Dr. Vijay Govindarajan, popularly known as VG – a world renowned thought leader and expert on strategy and innovation, was at the MYRA School of Business, Mysuru to give a foundation lecture and Executive Master Class on Three-Box Solution: Strategy for Leading Innovation on Saturday, January 30, 2016. The Athena auditorium was jam-packed with more than 100 invited guests and 100+ students.

In the time of constant change, strategies need almost constant redefinition – either because the old assumptions are no longer valid, or because the previous strategy has been imitated and neutralized by competitors, his talk on the strategies that lead to future innovation came in as a fresh wave of thinking.

Based on an in-depth, three-decades research study of innovative initiatives at over 50 large corporations, Vijay Govindarajan has focused on developing frameworks for ‘New practices’. While he strongly believes that large organizations have the infrastructure, technologies and financial abilities to solve major problems, yet they are prevented from innovating due to three fundamental traps – first, the physical trap – the large existing infrastructures that they are unwilling to obsolete; second, the psychological trap – their mindset – blocks them from seeing the innovational potentials within their own company and hence they fail to embrace it; and third and the most importantly the strategic trap, the myopic thinking – which confines them to focus on today’s customers, today’s technologies and today’s competitors, rather than on tomorrow’s customers, tomorrow’s technologies and tomorrow’s competitors. Vijay Govindarajan expands the leader’s innovation toolkit with a simple and proven method for allocating the organization’s energy, time, and resources in balanced measure across what he calls the three boxes:

Box 1: The present – Keep the current business going; Box 2: The past – Forget what made the business successful in the past; and Box 3: The future – create the new model.

The Three-Box Solution by VG describes the framework for managing a business’s responsibility to take action in three time horizons at once: executing the present core business at peak efficiency; taking steps to avoid the inhibiting traps of past success; and innovating a future built on nonlinear ideas. His talk focused on the characteristic skills each box requires, how the boxes interconnect, and what it takes to balance them.

While box 1 has clear signals and linear changes, the boxes 2 and 3 have weak signals and nonlinear changes. These 2 boxes are breakthrough innovations that leapfrog the entire industry – the classic example is the Internet, a powerful box 3 innovation that took the world through a colossal change. A great example that Dr. VG cited was that of ‘innovations in high jump’ which essentially moved away from incremental improvements to radically different ‘new practices’such as – the straddle, the western roll or the scissors jump to the ‘fosbury flop.’

The strategy is not about celebrating the past; the strategy is not about the present either; the strategy is about the leadership of the future through Innovations. The future is NOW, he said.

He explained that 100 years ago, 6 of the top 10 universities were German, but today German universities do not come in the top 10; they have been taken over by the US Universities – reason, the US Universities have adaptive curriculum and a control over their alumni.

Box 2 and Box 3 are about ‘Next Practices’, he said.

Since innovation is the driver of change, and change is the most fundamentally important driver of business strategy, innovation is the means of achieving strategy.

The bottom line is – adapting to change is innovation.

The foundation lecture and Executive Master Class was based on VG’s forthcoming book – Three Box Solution: A Strategy for Leading Innovation, HBR Press, and is set for release in April 2016.

A special MYRA edition of the book Three Box Solution will also be released by HBR in April.

Dr. Shalini Urs, Founder Chairperson, MYRA welcomed Dr. VG; Dr. Sudhindra Seshadri, Senior Associate Dean, MYRA delivered the vote of thanks and Mr. Kantharaj Urs, Trustee, MYRA honored VG with a memento on behalf of MYRA trustees, faculty and staff.

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