The Flame of Innovation
Author: Gerard Ferreira
Innovation drives humanity forward. It’s responsible for our current lifestyles (global pandemic aside). Like Steve Jobs (Apple) and Winston ‘Spree’ Simon and Ellie Mannette (both Steel Pan pioneers), innovators introduce new ways of thinking and behaving, new products and designs and, in so doing, change the world.
In the Caribbean, it can sometimes feel like we have a culture of ‘anti-innovation’, where, given the option, we’d rather stifle than encourage modernisation. Fortunately, things are changing. We see the flame of innovation in multiple endeavours, from the Eastern Caribbean Union issuing a crypto currency to T&T’s first online market goods retailer, D Market Movers, (started in 2009, way before Covid).
Many with this ‘innovation flame’, however, often don’t realise it, especially ‘corporate innovators’ working within existing companies with hierarchies that may or may not encourage thinking outside the box.
Well, we’re here to ignite, fan and ‘chrow gyas’ by looking at innovative thinking, in both individual and business contexts. 🔥⛽
That said, you or your company might have the innovative spark if:
You or your Company foster an attitude of curiosity and analysis. You probably find yourself asking “why are things this way” or “how can things be done better?” For a company, this means continuous scrutiny and evaluation of systems, processes and products/services with a view toward improvement. In ‘The Business Case for Curiosity’, Francesca Gino outlines just how important curiosity can be for a business.
You or Your Company are not afraid to take risks. This doesn’t mean reckless leaping before you look, though. Your risk-taking is usually still measured because you have evidence to support your undertaking and you understand the potential consequences, both positive and negative. A corporate culture that encourages responsible risk makes all the difference.
You or Your Company are not afraid to be different. Patrick Stahler said it best on his blog “innovation is about being different.” With this trait, you’re unafriad to stand out by doing things differently, whether that’s introducing a new execution of an old concept e.g. Fried Ice Cream (yummy!) or by producing a completely novel product that goes against current consumer behaviour, like inventing some strange rectangle that stores and plays mp3s when everyone else is making CD players (the iPod).
You know a little about a lot and love a good collab. Many sources cite the impact of having a broad knowledge base has on successful innovation. For the individual, this means having and sharing knowledge about a wide variety of topics, including those in unrelated industries. Collaboration, too, is an excellent way for companies to benefit from the best of multiple worlds, for instance, by having cross-functional teams with members who have diverse expertise.
For more on fostering an innovation environment.
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