At Stellenbosch Graduate Institute we want to bring inspiring people together whatever their social or cultural background in an open-minded space conducive for learning and research.
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On Tuesday 25 June 2019, it was reported that hackers stole restricted data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) using a low-cost $35 (around R502.49) computer. If that’s not innovation at work, then what is? The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is changing the way humans – including hackers – work. Innovation in the way you think, create, implement and manage products and processes is now a given.
Innovation has extended to all areas of industry and business, from entertainment to food. At last year’s Fast Company Innovation Festival, WeWork’s COO spoke about building a cult brand based off a simple idea, while Deloitte Digital and Market Gravity presented on product development and taking the process from Post-It note to prototype. With so many disruptive companies out there, how do you know if your organisation is able to compete? And how do you create the best possible environment to encourage ideas? By asking the right questions.
One sure sign of innovative thinking is seeking out new opportunities. Companies that are unwilling to change their tried-and-tested methods will fall behind in 4IR as smaller companies look beyond their predetermined skills and ways of working to better engage their clients and employees.
According to Entrepreneur magazine, future orientation – the practice of looking ahead to forecast what’s coming – is an important aspect of entrepreneurship. But it should also be a concern for big businesses. In order to future-proof your organisation, you need to ensure both your employees and stakeholders understand that good decision-making and the correct deployment of resources can lead to bigger and better things in the years to come. A big part of this is anticipating risks and scenario planning to mitigate these.
Curious people tend to ask questions about everything. They want to know the “why” and “how” behind every product, process or system. They are continuously looking to dig deeper and discover more. Identify people in your team who are curious thinkers and encourage them to keep asking questions to help drive innovative practices within your team or workplace.
No one likes to fail or be seen as a failure. But companies such as Tesla, Virgin and Apple would not exist today if Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs had not practiced the philosophy of failing forwards fast. What’s stopping your company from being the next big thing in publishing, digital or even fashion? Don’t let it be failure. If a project does not meet your outcomes or a goal needs to be shifted, that’s okay. If you lose a client or make a mistake on a presentation, it’s okay. Learning to be comfortable with failure helps teach you important lessons, including that failure is not the end point. Agile companies encourage iterative ways of working that not only allow for fail, but even encourage it.
In other words, are you allowing your team or employees to actively seek input from each other? Are you scheduling sessions for brainstorming or idea generation by encouraging a culture of learning? All these practices lead to creative thinking. It’s imperative to break down siloes and encourage diverse teams through inter-departmental collaboration. Different perspectives are the best way to catalyse fresh ideas.
If your organisation hasn’t incorporated some of these best practices yet then our From Zero to One microlearning online course is for you. As a manager, you will learn to analyse and recognise opportunities for innovation, understand techniques for promoting innovation within your workplace, develop a plan for a creative environment and lead your team through a creative process. And by doing that, you’ll be future-proofing yourself and your company for 4IR.