Creativity and Innovation: Why it Matters at the workplace

In a study that Lapid Leaders Africa conducted last year, HR Managers indicated that the most valuable contribution that young people bring to an organization is creativity and innovation. Young people have the ability to provide a fresh, new perspective to the issues at the workplace.

I previously worked as the Head of Risk and Compliance for Guaranty Trust Bank, a leading financial institution. One of the bank’s products that has been very popular especially in Nigeria, and has won the bank several awards, is its social banking. The service (social banking) was the first offering of its kind by any Nigerian bank. The service allowed people to open GTBank accounts and perform various financial transactions while on Facebook. The idea to roll out this product was formed by a group of young fresh graduates in the bank. It has been said that the initial reaction to this idea was lukewarm, to say the least. However, years later, it not only is a very popular product but continues to be recognized the world over.

That is the value that the youth should bring to any organization, fresh ideas, new perspectives, disruptive thinking. It is what forward looking organizations are looking for when they recruit young guys.

So what value can you add to an organization as a fresh graduate who has zero experience? Creativity and innovation. Thinking outside the box. Providing a fresh perspective.

When the ideas are stifled

Unfortunately, in some organizations middle management will stifle these crazy ideas. They will attempt to pull you back to the ways things have always been done; they will insist on the tested and tried. The result is that many young people stifle their creativity within a very short period and go back to the tested and tried templates. The result is that young guys add no value to organizations.

As a young person, you must always remember the one thing you bring on the table is creativity. Like the fresh graduates behind the social banking idea, you must respectfully persist in creating new solutions for the organizations you work for. You must seek to understand the organization you work for well enough to identify ways you can bring about innovation. I always encourage young people to attend every organization meeting that allows them to listen and learn. From there you will know when and how to contribute innovative ideas in the workplace.

This will distinguish you in the marketplace. It is what Africa needs in todays’ age.

Africa too needs your innovation

The many problems that Africa faces cannot be solved using the eye that created the same problems. The solutions will not come from the western world; we have to build local solutions to local problems. This calls for innovation and creativity.

When you think about Mpesa, the reason it is so successful in Kenya is because it solved a local problem that a foreign country would not understand, a problem of sending money through Akamba buses. Africa craves for a creative generation, a generation that will create new solutions. Will you take up this call?

At Lapid Leaders, creativity and innovation is one of our key values. These individuals have demonstrated creativity and innovation and are nominated for the Lapid Leaders Creativity Award.  Check out this video for the nominees of the first Lapid Leaders Creativity Award.

The winner of the award was Kezia Nyaga (see her profile here). Why did she win this award? Because creativity is not just about providing new solutions to big problems, but also creatively providing new solutions to even very small problems. Kezia took the problem of students at a local rehabilitation center lacking bras and panties. She worked with the team to develop an innovative campaign, 220 Campaign, whose aim was to raise 200 bras and panties. Due to the creativity employed, the campaign was very successful resulting in over 300 bras and panties being donated. A creative solution to what seems like a small problem.

You too can innovate solutions in your marketplace. You too can innovate solutions for Africa. Are you starting a business? Have you applied creativity in any way or just applied the norm? At your workplace, are you sharing innovative ways of performing your tasks. Start today, apply creativity to all you do.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” Albert Einstein



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