Innovation is about a lot of different things. Partly it's about flexible thinking, being creative.
Partly it's about taking risk.
One thing that often gets overlooked in innovation is raw spending power. If you put money into R&D, the odds are that you are going to be a little bit more innovative than the next company.
One country that gets big props for innovation is India. When we traveled to Detroit to tear down the Chevy Volt in January 2012, we had a chance to see, up close and personal, an example of Indian innovation.
As we were wrapping up our teardown, the folks at Munro and Associates, our hosts, took delivery of a 2012 Tata family van. Several years before, the engineers at Munro had analyzed a Tata truck for the Indian company and come away reporting that the vehicle shouldn't even be on the road, it was so poorly designed.
But the van that they took delivery of was a spectacular piece of engineering, and it stopped the engineers in their tracks. It suggested to me that automotive design in India has come a long way in just a few years.
But take a look at the info graphic below. It appears that the unions aren't spending as much on R&D as the rest of the world is, and that's having an effect on their innovation.