Innovation For Growth

The business landscape is a constantly evolving, living entity, that seems to defy rules of evolution.

Comparing business technology, concepts and practices as recent as a year ago, and as far back as the ’60’s, can leave one in awe of the human mind’s ability to surpass the thinking of yesterday.

Lack of innovation has led to the demise – albeit temporary for some – of more than 80% of Fortune 500 companies from the ‘60’s. Compaq, Kodak, Dell and more recently Toys R Us, all failed to innovate when negative growth and plummeting market shares sent alarm bells ringing.

However, the arrogance bred by success convinces us that what we did yesterday, would be sufficient for tomorrow – William Pollard.

These companies were creative, but not innovative. Being creative implies that you create new things, innovation means doing new things.

Innovation is not a science, and by nature has no E=MC2 formula to go by as there are no two industries that can be approached in the same way.

As a starting point, we can identify 4 essentials to the innovation process

A Problem to Solve

Gauteng’s evolving skyline is a testimony to the tsunami of construction that continues to alter and morph our cities. Essential to any commercial or residential construction project is concrete.

Yet ironically, concrete also presents one of the biggest problems (and post-construction costs) to solve. Cracks.

US researchers are working on a self-healing concrete.

Inspired by the human body’s healing capabilities, bacteria and fungi are infused into the concrete matrix. Dormant cells are activated by water/oxygen when cracks appear, growing and expanding to fill the cracks.

Limited Resources

Time, money, human capital, land, logistical constraints, clean air. All resources when at a deficit necessitate innovation.

Lack of production capacity is no longer touted as the evil behind load shedding in the region. Not enough coal where it is needed has resulted in systematic power supply reduction.

Limited resources have resulted in a boom in solar power innovation. Solar paint developed by the University of Melbourne produces hydrogen fuel from solar energy.

The limitation becomes the catalyst to innovation.

Willingness to fail

Failure is essential to growth, and innovation. Quotes on the effect of failing have become a mantra of society, fuelling the personal growth frenzy that has created countless millionaire authors and experts.

Adversely, the fear of failure continues to inhibit business innovation. Perceived risk outweighs anticipated growth and benefits. Yet inventions as mundane as bubble wrap – found in almost any package emblazoned with the word FRAGILE – is the result of failure.

Intended as a trendy new textured wallpaper in 1960, and later as housing insulation, it was only when IBM identified it’s potential as a packaging material that the failure became a success.

Crazy idea

Creative Thinking as described by John C. Maxwell, demands that ideas are free from any constraints, has no tie to reality, and is – impossible.

South African born Elon Musk is a champion Crazy Idea thinker. The all-electric powered Tesla raised eyebrows when the concept was launched. Car makers Toyota, long considered industry leaders with their Prius models, become irrelevant overnight. To push the edge of crazy thinking, the Tesla has now been to pace on Musk ’s first SpaceX rocket.

Seth Godin talks about edge thinking. Define the edges of your idea, and then push past them. There is no limit when it comes to crazy ideas.

Combining these four essentials provides a platform for the next Elon Musk or Richard Branson.

Gauteng has an abundance of problems, limited resources and crazy idea thinkers willing to fail repeatedly, making the province a hub of potential millionaires.

#growth #innovation

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