Some thirteen weeks ago, I led a team of young innovative entrepreneurs – all undergraduates – to the a national contest for ideas; it was the National Idea’s contest organised by the Nigerian Universities Commission for all Nigerian universities, as part of the Annual National Entrepreneurship Week, in commemoration of the 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Our 6-human team shared an innovative idea, which if thoroughly implemented will reduce hidden hunger, while building human capacity / productivity, strengthening mental prowess/energy, increasing academic and managerial excellence, reducing maternal and infant mortality, indirectly reducing crime/violence and at the long run, increasing the average life expectancy. The effect of the idea cuts across health, education and human development sectors. The project was a result of a deep ‘ideation’ process – facilitated by our protem social innovation lab –, well thought-out research and deeply informed consultations, across board.
The competition was huge; but alas! We emerged finalists, and was rated one of the best teams – along with a sister team, in the country. Better put – everyone won :). Ideas always win, regardless of human ratings. Several weeks after that experience, I was reviewing – again – one of the lessons I re-learnt during and after the entrepreneurship week.
All ideas are important, but the people are more important. I imagine what might have become of us, if at the ‘ideate’ stage, we had focused more on carving out and refining our idea BY OURSELVES, without bringing a right set of people in – the beneficiaries. When we were brainstorming and getting clarity on what we want to achieve through the project, we had to involve representatives of clusters of affected communities; this made and still makes human-centered innovation efficient, the decisions inclusive and gives ownership across board.
Transforming ideas into reality requires clarity; it requires thinking from our goals, not only of it. It requires building a network, community or team of committed minds, who though divergent in thought are convergent in the collective mission. A team bonded in trust and other values, prepared to give their honest quota in realizing the shared vision. Beyond the ideas, we need to understand the system that influences our sphere of work. Understanding the system helps heretics like you and I to modify / create a better pattern within the system.
As we step out of our ideation corners, with lofty ideas on our hearts, head and palms, let us create time to build relationships that can drive the change we seek. Relationships help me learn, take risks and grow. Take precious moments to build trust-based relationship with your team and innovative community. That idea you cherish will generate solutions to at least a problem. Some people will immensely benefit from that idea. Have you thought about them? Have you brought them in?
Your idea counts, so do they!