Academic journal article South Asian Journal of Management

Creating a Crucible of Innovation at Trilogy India

Academic journal article South Asian Journal of Management

Creating a Crucible of Innovation at Trilogy India

Article excerpt

Trilogy India Ltd. is a 100% owned-subsidiary of Dallas-Trilogy Inc., USA. Trilogy was founded in 1990 by a Stanford drop-out, Joe Leimandt, in response to a massive opportunity he perceived in the 'Configurator' space that large companies were struggling with. For instance, a large manufacturer of computer hardware needed to ship out a huge list of products and components that had to be mutually compatible. The problem the companies faced in such a situation was that often the products and components would be shipped out to the customer site, only to find that they did not work with each other. The configurator developed by Joe and his team after over two years of pains-taking effort soon became a success and laid the foundation for the growth of the company. The recent worldwide recognition of India as a software power resulted in the company setting up its India operations to tap into the Indian talent. Trilogy USA employed the best and brightest engineers from top schools in USA, and did the same in India when they started their India operations. The brilliance of Joe was to set-up the 'Trilogy University' (TU) in USA to get the young recruits to come up with very innovative products through several months of intense working. TU was first rolled-out in India in 2004 (TU 2k4). The case describes the working of one team comprising of Tarun, Koushik and Gaurav, called the Smart Router team. The three are bright engineers, together developed an innovative product and called it the Smart Router for networking solutions. The team went through many ups and downs and finally came up with a version that Joe was ready to fund in terms of taking it to the next step. The case ends with several issues that form the basis for the case discussion. The case can be best used in a course/module on corporate entrepreneurship in an MBA or executive education program, and can be used to illustrate the roles of junior, middle and top managers in the company, using the article, 'The Myth of the Generic Manager' by Sumantra Ghoshal and Christopher Bartlett. The article argues that it is the role of the front line managers in the company to drive innovation through corporate entrepreneurship, somewhat on the lines of what was being attempted at Trilogy by the Smart Router team. The case demonstrates that those companies that can tap this entrepreneurial energy to drive innovation are the ones that will be the winners in the future.

It was September 15, just 15 days away from graduation for Trilogy University (TU) 2004. The "Smart Router" team had just finished testing the prototype of their project. For Tarun, Gaurav and Koushik, who were part of this project team, it had been a long wait to reach this stage. They hoped to achieve stunning performance results of their innovative product. However, to their surprise, the results were below expectations. Apart from poor performance, the system was not behaving in a very stable manner.

The results bothered them because the product, they worked hard to develop, was well below their own expectation. This was the second time in a span of 20 days that their project idea faced a major set back. The first one came when they had finished the design of their project only to discover that most of the features they came up with existed in the latest Linux offering. All the time spent on initial design discussions seemed wasted and the team had to start afresh by refining their project idea. Despite this unpleasant revelation that the product idea they came up with was already in the market place, they were able to make good progress during the next three weeks leading to mid-September, although they had to put-in long hours to make-up the lost time.

Today, after the first round of tests of the prototype, their thoughts were clouded by one single question: Will they be able to impress Joe on TU graduation day? This was a critical milestone, for only winning project ideas will move on to the next level of support in the company. …

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