What Is Innovation And How Do You Achieve It?

At the present time, the continent of Africa is on the move economically. It is attempting to move from being an emerging market to being a middle class economy. Africa has the desire to be a significant player in the globalized economy. We are seeing the emergence of the African Gorillas.

If this is going to happen, African is going to need entrepreneurs to create jobs. Jobs are the key to Africa's development. Foreign aid has a chilling effect on a society. It makes a nation and a people dependent. When people are gainfully employed, if frees them. This is why jobs are so critical to the development of Africa. Innovation is the key to development of Africa.

Let's just ask a basic question, "What is innovation"? "How is it achieved?" Innovation is the creating of "cool stuff". This cool stuff is both necessary and unnecessary. Some things are cool, but not necessary, like jewelry or fashion, but they are nice thing to have.

Innovation is the bringing to life of Robert Kennedy's quote, "People see things and ask 'why' and "how" and "can we, I wonder". An innovator will see things and ask 'why not'. To create innovation, you also have to create a culture for it.

Innovation is the outdoing of the competition. Innovation does create competitive advantage for both a company, and also for a continent, such as Africa.

To be entrepreneurial, you must constantly engender new ideas. Good ideas happen whenever you have thinking people. How are they created? Receptiveness and reward are ways to engage people to give their best and feel they have a stake in the company. Through ideas, people challenge one another in a way that is not overwhelming. A leader will inspire competition and inspiration by showing their confidence that each person in the organization can express creativity in his or her own way. This new idea may be in product design, product usage. It may be in anything that involves the organization.

Innovation is mostly done by seeing how people use the product. Creativity and innovation is "hands-on" but it is also "hands off". It is observing "what works" and "what doesn't work". It is about honesty, and the foregoing of silos.

There is a "gotta". You "gotta" have a culture for this to work. You have to encourage people to discover new things, to see things differently. People in a professional culture have to be open to new things. Creativity takes leadership. Creativity is not just allowing people in an organization to just go off in their own direction. There must be at least some "adult supervision" for creativity to be developed.

You "gotta" allow people to make mistakes, because they will. You are dealing with new things. When something is new, no one really knows if the thing will work.

In creating a culture for creativity, the wisdom of crowds is imperative. Through encouraging employees and their ideas, you get a grassroots intelligence network. Employees will focus on new things in that are in marketplace. They and their work teams will talk about them, discuss their advantages and shortcomings, test them, play with them...and then wonder, "What can we do that is better?" From these discussions, new products will be developed. A benchmark for innovative companies is Google. They are encouraged to think of new things. These new things are discussed. They are then developed and created. Google Maps was created in this manner.

Dean Hambleton