Future of Innovation - empathetic and human-centric innovation.
Engr. Chinenye Justin Nwaogwugwu (MACJAMES)
If I should prepare a roadmap for the Future of innovation, I would submit a plan with a more empathetic and human-centric innovations. Let us think of a problem we want to proffer a solution to or a solution we want to use to solve a problem. A better initial approach will be to see ourselves experiencing the problem and using the solution, considering peculiarity, or studying and learning from people who own the problems. Most at times when we see ourselves as being in the shoes of the people who own the problems and also consider service to man and his environment we get a better innovation for unique benefits of mankind and the owners of the problem will queue up to get those services or products, and this will grow the finances/business of the innovator. This is a terse description of empathetic and human-centric innovation. The insight here is that we should see it that we are not solving business problems but human problems.
If we follow this human-centric process, then design thinking begins with empathy with real people and product ideas are co-created with real people. This is a hand-on-the-pulse method which creates new breakthrough products and services that make positive differences in the lives of many.
This is the business-world paradigm shift of our era. Let us forget, a little, business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C). That is becoming an outdated thinking. Human-to-human (H2H) business and unique product or service design, imagination, caused-based and part entrepreneurial horse sense make good business. This may sound strange or banal to some people but that is the future of great sustainable innovations and business. More about the consumers! Whether B2B or B2C, H2H should be underlying thinking.
In bringing out innovative solutions for a consumer problem it is also great to consider technical (can it be done) and market (should it be done) risks and find out ways of overcoming them. This risk analysis is a make-or-mare decision process if done well or badly or totally neglected, as in many cases of start-ups.
Another area: It is always better to focus on your consumers/customers than your competitors. Your customers' needs and problems should drive your innovation whether they are aware of it or not. Here, the consumers' needs or problems are divided into two; the one they are aware of and the other they are not. Focusing on them, you can find a solution for both. Imagine what will happen if you focus on a competitor that focuses only on known problems. You may end up in a me-too business! Your focus on consumers will help you find out "known" and "unknown" to the consumers. Like Henry Ford said that if he had asked consumers what they wanted (what problem they needed solved) they would have told him a faster horse. The same thing applies to the airplane, the light bulb, the personal computer, the internet, mobile phone, WiFi, etc. It includes products and technologies as diverse as ATM machines, CDs, jet engines, etc.
Problem solving is essential to innovation, just as it is to business. But if our approach to innovation is to first identify problems and dismissing ideas that do not meet that limited criteria, innovation will be slow at best. We need to imagine possibilities beyond those tight parameters, if not, we will soon find that we are falling far behind those who do otherwise.
Innovators need to be dreamers as well, not just problem solvers. That when they breakthrough, they no longer need to close their eyes in sleep again to witness their dreams. Just like the consumers will find the innovation essential with their eyes wide open in getting it solve their problems .
I hope these my views can pop up a "rethink" about embracing the future today for sustainable innovation, from some upcoming innovators and others.
Eliciting and Informative contributions are welcomed.
Brief About the Author
Engr. Chinenye Justin Nwaogwugwu (MACJAMES), a registered Chemical Engineer with Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) and a member of Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE). Studied Chemical Engineering from Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria. An advanced trained Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) personnel by Nigerian Institute of Safety Professionals (NISP).He received entrepreneurship and innovation management trainings from Doug Richard's School for Startups, London; PAN Atlantic University/Enterprise Development Centre, Nigeria and Founder Centric, United Kingdom.
His Chemicals Innovations: Selected for Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation 2014/2015 by Royal Academy of Engineering, United Kingdom. Won Federal Government of Nigeria Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria award 2012. Qualified for "Create the Future Design Contest"2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 sponsored by SAE international, COMSOL and MOUSER,USA. Selected as top 1000 innovations in Africa (from 54 countries) by TEEP 2016, among others.
Entrepreneurial Ventures: The MD/CEO Macjames Global Resources Limited and Managing Director of Macjames Ikiomoye Technologies Limited, manufacturers of NAFDAC and DPR approved/registered innovative Household-Institutional & Industrial-Oilfield (HI&IO) chemicals. He has over fourteen years practical work, research and entrepreneurial experiences including Manufacturing, Plant Design and Construction, Water treatment, Corrosion Control, Client Services, Marketing/Sales, Management and Consultancy from over ten industries and institutions.
He is an innovator, a consultant, a great learner, a mentor and an entrepreneur with practical transferable skills and ideas.