Uganda is becoming so competitive. Forget the old days where there was only one supplier and the customer was a slave. Today, nearly everything you think about has a host of providers and substitutes. So how do you stay on top? The secret is innovation.

Innovation does not involve any particular model and those schools that teach innovation have got it wrong. Innovation is situational and non-formulaic.

All you need is to put in place a mechanism for capturing great ideas from everyone who can help and an open mind. No one monopolizes knowledge and surprisingly many noble ideas can be found anywhere. You just cannot rely on your staff alone for ideas to take your company to the next level. You need to engage further afield.

Customers who use your products and services daily, by far, have more experience with them and ideas of what ‘they would like your product to do for them. engage them because they are always willing to get back to you on how you could make your products better. If you’ve locked your doors and are busy doing what you think your customers need instead of providing an open ear, then you cannot innovate and improve your offering.

Through your business’ R&D budget, you already have the resources to actualize their ideas. They don’t. All they need is recognition. So, why not engage your customers to help you innovate? How are you engaging your customers to make products that meet their needs instead of what you think they need?

If teaching innovation worked, every company would be innovating! There is just no standard model for innovation. Companies that innovate the most, have a clear process to encourage novel ideas from all and sundry to blossom. If an idea passes the basic checks, it will be given an opportunity and the funding to take it further. That is the magic your business needs.

Everyone can come up with gets great ideas daily. The difference is that for companies that lack a clear process to test and actualize those ideas, the future is bleak. History is replete with companies that refused to market test the ideas of the R&D departments. Kodak and IBM are good examples. Kodak refused to accept that digital technology was the future, and the price has been immense. IBM thought desktops and microcomputers were never going to work. Big Blue went to sleep and the rest is history! If something works today, then it is obsolete. You have to be innovating to keep ahead of the game…

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