Creating a Culture of Innovation in Business


Businesses today are changing and they are changing fast! Business strategies and methodologies of last decade are already proving obsolete. Culpable for this are the ever-vacillating customer needs and the technologies solutions that meet these needs.  At the core of managing these changes is business innovation. Business innovation (different from technology innovation) essentially refers to an organization’s process for introducing new (or modifying existing) ideas, processes, services or products with the ultimate aim of creating more value for the customer. Organizations that embrace business innovation benefits from these technology advances and new customer needs while those that are slow or reluctant are left behind.

Many organizations experience challenge innovating. More often than not this is due to these organizations’ structure and culture. A top-down pyramid organization where employees do not have autonomy but must receive ‘approval’ from superiors for virtually every initiative stiffens innovation. This fixed and rigid structure breeds a culture of fear where employees are satisfied in the safety net of status quo rather than risk the adventure of innovation. Organizations that have these don’t-touch-it-if-it-works folks as managers soon become antique and will be shocked when a smaller but smarter startup comes to disrupt them.

Business innovation is everyone’s responsibility but business leaders can act as catalysts breeding innovation in every department. They can envision the business future (strategy), seize business opportunities on time (sales), insist that things be done better and institute an innovation culture in the organization (operations).

Business leaders who wish to institute a culture of innovation must take these things to mind:

  1. Innovation should be customer-centric. The customer is the boss that pays everyone’s salary. He determines what value is. Business innovation should therefore be targeted at creating new values directly or indirectly for the customer. Every action should be traceable to ultimately creating value for the customer. A business should consistently ask itself what value am I delivering to my customers? How can I do more? How can I deliver these values faster, easier, and cheaper without affecting my profitability? Today, FinTechs are disrupting banks everywhere in the world because they offer banking services to customers in a faster, easier and cheaper way.
  2. Innovation should be deliberate and structured. To make innovation a culture, business leaders must take responsibilities to structure it and be deliberate about it. In creating any structure to support innovation, the following must be taken into consideration.
    1. Idea generation – a new idea can be inspired from an existing idea or from the scratch. Apple created iPod 3 years after MP3 players (The Atlantic). On the other hand inventing Scotch tape was a brand new idea. Richard Drew saw a need for a tape that would not waste paints (Priceonomics). Leaders must understand this innovation dynamics and put in place structures that leverage existing innovation or permit sufficient research to create new ideas.
    2. Idea screening and advocacy – not all ideas make sense initially (traditionally idea generators don’t always have the skills of advocacy) and not all ideas are worth implementing. Business leaders must learn how to navigate this thin line between ingenuity and stupidity. Experience and intuition often times are the leaders’ best judge. The goal of an idea screening and advocacy process is to let all ideas have fair hearing before deciding to promote or neglect it. Organizations interested in building an innovation culture must have policies that guide this activity. Creating transparent decision process and ensuring employees have sufficient feedbacks as to why their ideas were neglected or promoted is essential to sustaining the innovation culture.
    3. Idea piloting – even with the most experienced and intuitive business leader, it is still necessary for the ideas to be tested before a final go.
    4. Idea implementation – on successful piloting, idea should be implemented. Business leaders’ role at this point is to mitigate roadblocks using their executive powers. The details and strategy of implementation should be left to the idea generator or an implementation team. This offers a tremendous learning opportunity from which another innovation can be birthed.

Companies of all sizes must understand that their company’s competitiveness depend on their capacity to innovate and adjust efficiently to business changes. Smart organizations decentralize innovation by deliberately creating a culture and structure that breed innovations.

Organization in this age have only two options: innovate or die!




Jide Salu Diary


I think it is too elementary to attempt any formal definition of democracy.

It will serve our purpose to say that it is participatory governance in the sense that we all have a say, whether we vote or not. It is also useful to remind ourselves that participation is largely by representation; in other words, those who are old enough to vote and those who are not, are represented by people elected to speak, think and act for us.

This part is very important because we all cannot be in Government, especially the Executive and Legislative arm, so we must elect or otherwise choose people to go there on our behalf.

The problem is compounded by size.


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2011: We Take Our Stand

elections2011: WE TAKE OUR STAND

I am of the opinion that we are in this pitiable state in country largely because of the leadership of the country. The Nigerian government over years have been marred by bad leadership. We have had self-centred, wicked, ignorant and incompetent leaders. It is true that for the advancement of any country good leadership as well as good followership is necessary. However the leaders direct the consciousness of the followers, therefore everything still falls back to the leaders.
When a good leader is in power, the people rejoice but when a bad leader is in power the people lament. Obviously lamentation has been the attitude of most Nigerians since the inception of democracy in 1999. Things have gone from bad to worse in virtually every sector. Between then and now we have had different kind of leaders – bad but active, good but inactive and now we don’t even know what we have.

What kind of leaders then do we need?
We need leaders who are good and active. We need leaders who not only know what they want to do but also know how to do it and better still leaders who have done it before. We need leaders with excellent pedigree. Presidency especially is not a place for trial and error. We don’t want leaders who are just optimists we want leaders with faith. We want leaders who believe in the change we all desire.
2011 is coming and once again Nigerian would be deciding their future. Just as before they have to come around, advertising themselves. They have started to paint themselves in all sort of good colours. Most of them are wolves but they are coming to us in sheep’s skins. They are darkness posing to us as light. They have come to us again to deceive us. Unfortunately, the majority of Nigerians are incapacitated. They know what they want but they are not empowered to get it. This empowerment is education. Therefore this is a call to those of us who are educated to stand up for our country. Let us fight the good fight of faith. Let us defend our uneducated brothers, sisters and parents. Let us fight these beast in human form. Let us fight them not violently but intellectually.
For every leader having skeletons in their cupboards and still hoping to contest in the next elections, let us bring out their skeletons for them. Let us paint the internet, the newspapers, social networks, blogs and every source of information with their bad deeds. These will sensitize a lot of people who they (politician) are looking forward to for their votes.

What about rigging?
Due to the present deplorable state of the country, rigging cannot be lacking. But this should not discourage us from voting. With the present installations being put in place by INEC, rigging would be reduced as compared to last elections. Therefore if the right persons still have the largest votes no matter how much it is rigged he will still emerge the winner.
Finally as we brace up to defend our future and to take this country to a greater height in the next elections, I want to admonish us to vote for someone not because of what he says he can or will do but because of what he has already done.
God bless Nigeria.
Please post your comments.