Fostering the Spirit of Entrepreneurship – Understanding Innovation and Entrepreneurship 26 Seconds Ago

THE Namibian police (and if we also look at the Windhoek City Police) in Windhoek often focus on three aspects of crime: means, motive and opportunity. That is did the person have the means to commit the crime, were they driven by a specific motive, and did they have the opportunity to commit the crime?

If all these aspects things we have just mentioned are true, then there is a good possibility that you will find the guilty party. However, if one of these aspects is missing or cannot be discovered, the chances of solving the crime are slim. These are just some of the “critical components” of solving crime in Namibia. In a similar fashion, innovation has some critical components that in our own experience are not often complete and at times completely absent. As innovators, or citizens who strive to be innovative, we should be detectives, asking ourselves, what are the critical components for innovation to exist in any entrepreneurial venture we embark upon.

In his teachings prior to his death in 2004, the guru of management Peter Drucker in his book the ‘Management Challenges of the 21st Century’ reminds us all as business leaders that the centre of modern society, economy and community is not technology. It is not information. It is not productivity. It is the ability to manage your business as an organ of society to produce results. Peter Drucker’s writings highlight that management is a specific function, a specific instrument to enable businesses to produce results. However, if we look at entrepreneurship and innovation that assumption has changed tremendously. Innovation is seen now as a new way of doing something. This can be a very small, radical or revolutionary change in the way we think about products, processes and organisations.

But what level of innovation defines an entrepreneur? To be honest it really does not matter, since businesses can be entrepreneurial without necessarily being innovative. In addition when we ask people to innovate they really need to have a clear idea of where the business is trying to go. By now some readers are asking should innovation serve or drive the same customers or should entrepreneurs try and enter new markets. I want you to take a minute and think about the ‘vision’ of your business. Think about the number of times you stated the vision and mission of your company at a corporate meeting and went back to business doing the same thing you were doing previously. This can really make your ‘vision’ useless.

You can only become innovative if you have strategies and a vision that are frequently communicated and understood by everyone in the business. Unless and until you create a purposeful, meaningful vision that you can communicate to innovators, you will not be able to innovate successfully. While the vision usually gives you direction, the opportunity that exists in the market will give you a scope. You cannot be innovative without a vision or a strategy, because that is not enough. It is important to have a scope in terms of a specific opportunity or challenge. Innovation requires discovery, insights and learning, which is most often skipped by entrepreneurs. It is only innovators who are eager enough, curious enough, humble enough to learn something new that will succeed in today’s global and competitive market. Efficiency is very easy, but innovation is difficult.

Therefore, you need your best, most passionate people working not on the day-to-day efficiency stuff, but on those things that are difficult and critical to drive the growth of your organization. Ask yourself one key question, where are your best people focused today? What knowledge and skills do they possess and are they willing to take the risks that innovation presents? Always try and place your best people on innovative activities and if you cannot afford to give them the time and skills they need to succeed, don’t start. Innovation is not a secret science, a black art or a magic formula as long as you are able to discover the future needs and trends of your business. Next week, we explore ‘excellence in non-profit’ leadership.

Dr. Wilfred Isak April is a University of Namibia (Unam) graduate and holds a PhD in Entrepreneurship (New Zealand). He lectures in Leadership, Organizational Behaviour and Entrepreneurship at Unam.

Source : New Era