How to be innovative

How to be innovative

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We can solve virtually all the world’s problems through innovation and transformative leadership. I am particularly interested in frugal innovation – a type of innovation that is essential to develop sustainable, appropriate, adaptable, affordable, and accessible solutions to problems around us. Different authors have also said that it is a design innovation process that properly considers the needs and context of citizens in the developing world. However, whether you want to go the route of frugal innovation or disruptive innovation, a phrase coined by Prof Clay Christensen, the best way to be innovative is to see customer’s problems through their perspective. That was what Terence Lester did. Let me share his story. When Terence saw a homeless man living behind an abandoned, dilapidated building, he asked the man if he could take him to a shelter. The man scoffed, replying that Lester should sleep in a shelter. So, he did – and he saw the problem through the homeless man’s perspective. The shelter was crowded and smelly. You couldn’t get much sleep, because others would try to steal your meagre belongings. The dilapidated building provided isolation away from others, but quiet and security in its own way that the shelter could not. This experience led Lester to voluntarily live as a homeless person for a few weeks. His journey led him to create Love Beyond Walls (www.lovebeyondwalls.org), an organization that aids the homeless, among other causes.  

What are the problems your future customers are facing? Can you conduct an informal feasibility study by walking in their shoes? 

Credit to Prof Cullen Margaret for Lester’s story.

Tosin 'Badeniyi, PhD

Tosin 'Badeniyi, PhD

Tosin ‘Badeniyi, a Professor at the Department of Biotechnology and Food Science at Durban University of Technology, South Africa, holds a doctoral degree in Food Science from University of Pretoria South Africa. Since 2001, he has conducted research and lectured internationally in the area of food quality and safety. He is the editor of Food Science and Technology: Trends and Future Prospects and has published numerous scientific publications as well as four inspirational books.

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