AirAsia Good Airline But Innovative? Maybe Not.

In response to Fast Company’s recent ranking of Innovative Companies, some comments have focused on an Asian company on the list, AirAsia. A good Airline, to be sure, but not developing and commercialising new concepts, services or products. Being a really good competitive business doesn’t mean you are innovative. Some have made the assertion that Asian executives and entrepreneurs are ‘guilty by non-association’ with innovation, and that Westerners with new ideas still have an advantage when it comes to getting heard by financiers and others who are in a position to advance innovation. I would disagree to a large extent, and say that proven experience in innovation usually gets attention in Asia, no matter your country-of-origin. In broad strokes there are more evident examples of innovation coming into the region than going out (perhaps ex Japan, Taiwan and Korea). However in many industries we see an acceleration of entrepreneurial energy, but it’s first-generation in many cases, and the people who are in positions to fund and share the risk in “native” innovation should keep that in mind.

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