Creativity and innovation are vital elements for all levels of business in order to grow and expand .These two elements are constantly pushing businesses forward by bringing something new into existence which attracts customers and generate higher revenues .The emergence of unexpected competition across the world as well as unsteady currencies, exchange rates, and market environment are the driving forces behind entrepreneurial creativity and innovation. Thus, to stay ahead of the competition, an organization (regardless of whether they are for profit or non-profit) should not allow itself to become complacent, especially when rivals are constantly coming up with creative ideas to be introduced into the market.
DEFINITION OF CREATIVITY
Creativity comes from the Latin word creatus, which literally means `to have grown`. There are various definitions of creativity from many scholars. Below are the most common definitions of creativity:
1 Creativity is the ability to produce work that is new or novel, original and unexpected, high in quality, and appropriate, that is, useful and meets the task constraints (Sternberg, Kaufman & Pretz, 2002).
2 Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate and recognize ideas. It is the ability to create by generating or recognizing how best practice and imaginative ideas can be applied to different situations (Schermerhorn, Hunt & Osborn, 2003).
3 Creativity is the mental characteristic that allows a person to think outside of the box, which result in innovative or different approaches to a particular task (BusinessDictionary.com, 2010).
In the context of entrepreneurship, creativity refers to the ability of generating novels and useful ideas for business ventures. According to Ward (2004), to be successful, entrepreneurs must generate valuable ideas for new goods or services that will appeal to some identifiable, market, and having identified those potential opportunities, they must figure out how to bring the project to fruition. Thus, creativity in entrepreneurship is the ability to come up with, new ideas, approaches, or actions and exploit them to create wealth. This also includes the ability to rethink an old idea, for example to think of a new application for an existing technology, and present it in a way that is attractive to the market e.g the electric blanket
DEFINITION OF INNOVATION
Literally, innovation is the process and outcome of creating something new, which is also of value. It basically refers to the transformation of creative ideas into useful applications by combining resources in new or unusual ways to provide value to the society for improved products, technology, or services. Innovation can be a way of improving efficiency, eliminating paper work, or enhancing a design of innovation as it is an ambiguous concept. Many scholars have provided definitions of innovation as follows:
Innovation is the way of transforming the resources of an enterprise through the creativity of people into new resources and wealth (Paul Schumann, 2003.
2 Innovation involves the whole process from opportunity identification, ideation, or invention to development, prototyping, production, marketing and sales, while entrepreneurship only needs to involve commercialization (Schumpeter, 1934 as cited in pol & Carroll, 2006).
3 Drucker (1985) defined innovation as a purposeful search that can be managed and organized. It is a `change that creates a new dimension of performance`.
4 According to Kinicki and Williams (2003), innovation is finding ways to deliver new or better goods or services.
Thus in the context of an organization, the innovation is used to refer to the entire process, by which an organization generates creative new ideas and converts them into new, useful, and viable commercial products, services, and business practices. It is also deemed as the creation of something new in the marketplace that alters the supply-demand equation.
PRINCIPLES OF INNOVATION
A potential entrepreneur needs to realize that innovation principles exist. These principles can be learned and, when combined with opportunity, can enable the individual to innovate. The following major innovation principles are according to (Shar and Lan ,2013:248) :
The innovator must be always be active in searching for new ideas, opportunities, or sources of innovation. He should make his products, processes, or services simple, understandable, and customer based. This are sometimes called disruptive innovators. The innovator must always keep his customers in mind. The more an innovator has the end-user in mind, the greater the chances for the concept to be accepted and used. Examples of disruptive innovators are Econet through the introduction of ecocash which disrupted the normal traditional banking system and Nyaradzo funeral services which at one time made Doves stop operations
An innovator should not attempt a project or development on a large scale. He should begin small and then build and develop, allowing for planned growth and proper expansion in the right manner and at the right time.
The innovator should aim high for success by seeking a niche in the marketplace. Steward bank adopted this principle when it introduced the Kwenga facility targeting the venders. Most people now survive through buying and selling and with the current shortage of cash, this facility can go a long way.
The Rule of Try, Test and Revise
An innovator should always follow the rule of try, test, and revise. This helps work out any flaws in the product, process, or service. This was done when protext soap was introduced. The soap was first introduced in black color and was not received well but when different colors were introduced the market share increased.
Learn from Failures
Innovation does not guarantee success. Some organisations even give rewards for failing ideas but most promising. More importantly, failures often give rise to innovation.
Follow a Milestone Schedule
Every innovator should follow a schedule that indicates milestones accomplished. Although the project may run ahead or behind schedule, it still is important to have the schedule in order to plan and evaluate the project.
Reward Heroic Activity
The rewarding must be done publicly and the principle applies more to those involved in seeking and motivating others to innovate. Innovative activity should be rewarded and given the proper amount of respect. This also means tolerating and, to a limited degree, accepting failures as a means of accomplishing innovation. Innovative work must be seen as heroic activity that will reveal new horizons for the enterprise.
Work, Work, and Work
This is a simple but accurate emphasis to conclude the innovation principles. It takes work and not a genius or mystery to innovate successfully.
BENEFITS OF CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION
The benefits of creativity and innovation to a business organization according to Shar and Lan , (2013 :249) are highlighted in the following points.
Ensure an organization’s survival
Creativity and innovation are essential to the long-term survival of an organization. The future of a business depends on the ability of the organization to create new products or services. Therefore, it is essential for the organization to keep updating and improving its products and services to compete with its rivals. The organization should also be able to respond quickly and collectivity to environmental changes. An organization can no longer wait for demands from customers; rather, it must continue to supply something new to satisfy customer’s wants.
Explore new markets
A creative and innovative entrepreneur will always think of exploring and dominating a new market by introducing new products or services. For example, when mobile money transactions were introduced through ecocash, telcash and one wallet, these firms were able to explore rural market where there are no banks.
Exploit natural resources
There are plenty of natural resources on earth. The entrepreneur can gain advantage by exploiting the wealth of natural resources that are available without doing harm to the environment. As stated by Drucker(1985), there is no such thing as a ‘resource’ until man or entrepreneur finds a use for something in nature and endows it with economic value. Therefore, an entrepreneur plays a significant role in identifying which resource to use and how to create an added value on that particular resource in an environmentally friendly way. The use of solar energy has reduced the demand for hydro- electricity. Many households now solar geysers,lightings,etc.
Through creative and innovative ways of producing things, mass production or economics of scale take place. When the quantity of a product increases, the product’s cost per unit decreases and this in turn increases the sales revenue.
Through creativity and innovation, the entrepreneur can ensure that the product or service satisfies a customer’s requirement or expectation. Quality relates to customer satisfaction, which can have an effect on future sales. With the increase in product or service quality, retaining existing customers and attracting new ones become easier.
STRATEGIES TO ENCOURAGE CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION
There are several strategies to foster creativity and innovation , Shar and Lan (2013:252) captures the following strategies:
Recognize personal abilities
It is important for an entrepreneur to know his abilities so that he can solve problems or opportunities creatively and innovatively. He should be aware of his own limitations that might block him from possible solutions.
Change one’s perception
An entrepreneur should try to look at problems or opportunities from various perspectives. He must examine the problems and opportunities by breaking them into small pieces, and then finding the real or best solution of them.
Adopt a positive attitude
When facing a difficult or challenging situation, the entrepreneur should try to look for the inherent opportunities in the situation instead of expending energy on worry.
Identify and examine assumptions to ensure they are not excluding new ideas.
Dare to fail
Failure is a necessary condition and a stepping stone to creativity and success.
An entrepreneur threat every failure or mistake as a motivator that drives him to go further in finding the best solution for example the introduction of 3m
Employees should never feel embarrassed or afraid to submit their thoughts or creative suggestions. The goal is to get everyone in the organization involved in generating creative solutions. It only takes one idea, good or bad, to be the starting point of something big. Supervisors should encourage ideas by setting appropriate goals, giving support having confidence in the work group. Moreover, encouraging ideas supports creativity and communicates a shared vision of the organization.
Provide creative time
Designating a certain amount of time for employees to brainstorm and share ideas is a great way to promote creative thinking. Although an employee must stay focused on the problem at hand to produce results, creativity demands that they have time to step away for a while so that the incubation process can take place.
Have a submission system
Adopting a system for employees to use in order to submit their ideas will keep submissions from getting lost, and will make sure that they reach the appropriate department that can make the necessary steps to bring the idea to fruition. The main objective is to foster discussion on the methods of ‘design thinking’, ignite the transfer of ideas, and provide opportunities for inter-departmental collaboration.
Combine need and technology
Latest technological trends play a significant role in fostering creativity and innovation in an organization. If an organization knows how to exploit and manipulate their current products, processes, and practices using the latest technologies, they will be able to drastically improve efficiency, increase productivity, and reduce costs.
Implement an incentive programme
An incentive programme which does not necessarily have to include monetary rewards, can motivate the creative team. Recognizing staff members for innovative thinking can go a long way, and rewards based upon various levels of achievement are excellent ways to encourage hard work and promote employee loyalty. Employees should feel that they are being rewarded for sharing ideas with the company rather than feel their ideas are being stolen by the company. When employees are appreciated and acknowledged for bringing valuable innovation and profit to the company, they will be motivated to continue on the path of creative thinking.
Have good communication
Communication is extremely important and this is achieved through having an enabling organization structure (organic structure). Having work groups supports skill diversification, good communication, and idea generation. Group members can constructively challenge one another’s work, trust and help each other, and feel committed to their work. The lines of communication should be open between staff members, upper-level leaders, and vendors. Good communication also occurs when the organization is able to listen to its consumers and become aware of their current needs and wants.
Always keep track of current trends and breakthrough
Good ideas are not necessarily new all the time. They are simply inspired by a product or practice that already exists and need extra functions. By keeping track of what other businesses in the same industry are doing and attempting a new approach or method, the success or failure of current trends and breakthroughs will generate more ideas for the organization to stay ahead.
A trend often provides one of the greatest opportunities for starting a new venture, particularly when the entrepreneur can be at the start of a trend that lasts for a considerable period of time. Seven trends that provide opportunities according to Hisrich, Peters and Shepherd (2017:87) , include: wearable trend, green trend, payments, maker trend, mobile trend, health trend, and the Internet of things.
The wearable tech industry includes categories such as augmented reality (Google Glass), body monitoring (Fitbit), and point of view (GoPro). Consumer interest in “Smart Watches” is expected to boost the industry further as new companies form to service the industry with applications and accessories.
The green sector continues to provide a wealth of inspiration for entrepreneurs around the world. There has been a shift beyond traditional capital-intensive commodities manufacturing and toward downstream business models designed to scale quickly with relative capital efficiency. New businesses in this area include energy efficiency and storage, software, e-commerce, and electronic components. Also popular are hybrid energy storage approaches designed to stabilize demand on an energy grid. Germany is set to introduce electric vehicles in 2030 in a bid to reduce carbon-dioxide emition
Money and the way we manage and exchange it continues to be an industry undergoing a massive transformation. The introduction of ecocash , swipe machines , mobile/online banking and zipit (plastic money) has significantly changed the game
The mobile phone continues to revolutionize the way we consume content, make purchases, and interact with each other. Consumers are increasingly short on time so activities once confined to a desktop are now being done on the go with their tablet or smart phone. Banking is now done on the mobile phone.
Health maintenance and concerns about health-care provisions together are one of the biggest trends today that will continue in the next decade as the world population ages. This provides many opportunities for entrepreneurs, including cosmetic procedures, mind expansion such as the “brain gym” of Vibrant Brains, personal health portals, point-of-care testing facilities, fitness centers and fitness toys.
The Internet of Things
The potential for nearly everything we interact with to be connected to the Internet has given rise to new products that people never imagined could benefit from having an embedded WiFi transmitter. Internet connectivities such as light bulbs and thermostats are part of this new trend of “Smart” devices. This reality caused Google’s Eric Schmidt to remark recently that “the Internet will soon disappear, meaning that you won’t even sense you are interacting with it.” This in an opportunity to invest in e-learning and reduce the cost of establishing traditional colleges
-Creativity is typically used to the act of producing new ideas, approaches or actions.
-Innovation is the development process whereby the translation of an idea into an application takes place.
-Creativity is a prerequisite to innovation and innovation is the transformation of creative ideas into useful applications with distinguished products, services or processes to meet customers’ needs and demands.
-Innovation requires persistence in analytically working out the details of product design or service, developing marketing strategies, obtaining finances, and planning operations.
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