What steps should entrepreneurs and Government take to become more innovative?
When I first read the topic of the essay I was surprised and I thought to myself: why did they use this order in the sentence: entrepreneurs and then Government? The mental picture I had at that precise moment was putting the Government first because it’s the one setting the foundation, laws and steps to be followed. But then my second thought was that this only happens this way thanks to the contribution of every individual – no matter the size and status: a simple citizen, an NGO or a multinational company. My essay will engage in the following paragraphs in a deeper discussion, presenting and suggesting steps required for innovation and finally reach a deeper level of understanding on the topic.
I remember dearly my university classes, and while I was writing this essay I remembered a specific topic we had discussed: What is the purpose of the different entities present in nowadays society. I will only tell you the part that is of primary interest for our discussion: What is the purpose of the Government and what is the purpose of entrepreneurs? We started with the latter and of course, almost everybody put their money on... ”making money”. The teacher remained silent and allowed us to debate and reach the conclusion. Then, abruptly, he changed the topic and asked us about the Government, observing and listening to us. He was probably happy to see that a huge debate started because the pupils had a lot more diverse ideas and thoughts on the topic. After some intense minutes of flaming discussions we were able to reach a general conclusion so that everyone was happy: ”to serve the people”. Visibly satisfied with the way the hour went, the teacher added: ”But what about meaning? Creating meaning for themselves and the others?” He left us with this question to reflect on and the class ended. We did not return on the topic in the following days and I always believed that the reason was because our teacher trusted our judgement and, moreover, he would not put the answers on the table, only questions.
So, here comes the dilemma: the desire to make meaning or the necessity to make money? What gives a better chance on making the world a better place for everybody and eventually changing the world? But maybe the syntactic construction ”to change the world” sounds utopic for most of us. It doesn’t have to be. Changing the perspective and focusing on small changes, like changing someone’s world is a lot easier and likely to happen. Taking an entrepreneur’s possibilities, for example, a small restaurant can think and implement an innovative trash management system that helps not only on cost reduction (a small change that positively affects the business), but also feed the disadvantaged people around (a small change that positively affects at least a person) and, of course, the environment (and here comes the bigger effect). Moreover, other small ideas like a meal planner, updated recipes and a proactive connection with the staff, clients and the surrounding community can actually transform a snowflake in a huge snowball. On a bigger level, the Government can also focus on meaning in its decisions, observe and listen to the citizens and organizations. Keeping the trash management example, instead of raising taxes for waste, the Government can give exemptions if the organization is trying to find and implement innovative solutions or grants for similar ideas. So, determining on how to make meaning can be a first step towards becoming more innovative and causing change on the long run.
Describe why the meaning should exist and what does it consist of. Acknowledging the limitations, faults and disadvantages is always a good starting point towards evolution and also innovation. Define yourself through multiple lenses: what are you doing, the benefits you bring to the table, vision, the meaning you have and how you want to change the world, but don’t be keen on reinventing the wheel; research, discuss, debate, find good examples and adapt them. Keep your eyes open for unexpected connections, ideas and possibilities. Innovation doesn’t always start from ground 0, you can catch it a bit ahead and then shape it on your needs. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: ”The only thing that is constant is change”. Focus your effort and energy towards provoquing change, instead of avoiding it. Surround yourself with an aura of trust that comes from within and from the people around you. Innovation also comes from imagination and attention to detail. Details that others might miss or not consider important. Believe that the details and ideas you have are valid, important and necessary for the world, for your world to move forward. And last, but not least: Every step forward IS a step forward.
Entrepreneurs, Governments and other organizations must accept and encourage creativity as the basis of innovation. This might be especially challenging when the status quo is satisfactory. In the Romanian culture there are two very interesting, used and opposite sayings that I’ve heard from different people during my life: Be satisfied with what you already have, it might be worse and It (the situation) can always be better. I noticed over the years a pattern: each of these sayings show the mentality and attitude of the persons who are using it. So, do you want to be happy with what you already have or always strive for better?
I found inspiration in:
1. Braun V., Herstatt C., Barriers to user innovation: moving towards a paradigm of 'licence to innovate'?;
2. Can you innovate within large organizations? | Joshua Mitro Lavra | TEDxPSU;
3. Innovation Research;
4. The art of innovation | Guy Kawasaki | TEDxBerkeley;
5. What is innovation.
*photo source: https://synergee.com/franchise-obstacles-a-linnovation/synergee/