Innovation Means Both the Old and the NewThe notion of innovation requires both the old and the new, both that which is left behind and that which lies ahead. If anything is true about India, it is the unmistakable presence of a rich contrast between the old and the new, the advanced and the declined, technology and labor, and the rich and the poor. Each morning in New Delhi, I was awakened by the sounds of stray dogs fighting in the street outside my hotel room and a pile driver shaking the city's foundations to lay the new Delhi Metro in preparation for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The odd combination struck me, and I will never forget it.
Such contrasts were visible hourly during our time in India, where Columbia Business School's pilot Global Immersion Program (GIP) class, Innovation in India, culminated in January 2009.
Much continues to be made of classroom innovation and its role in business education as we move further into the new century and the digital age. The GIP counterbalances such innovative measures as wiring classrooms for tech applications (or unwiring them with Wi-Fi) or using interactive simulations in the business curriculum. Unlike these efforts, the GIP class emphasizes physical presence and direct contact as the bases of learning. On the streets of Delhi and in its factories, wholesale markets, government ministries and, yes, its restaurants, Columbia Business School's pilot GIP class took learning halfway across the world, fostering impressions, insights and contacts which may last a lifetime.