Education Innovation Thought

Blue Ocean Innovation

A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak at the seminar jointly organized by the Students Affairs Division and the Nigerian Universities Engineering Students’ Association at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. The association was led by Ifeanyi Okpala in whose company I am fascinated. I drafted this note – which is more of a manifesto to my colleagues – and sent it to him after the seminar.

Yesterday, March 25, 2015, I had the opportunity of a heart-to-heart conversation with some colleagues – all of whom are students from various colleges in the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta – gathered at the College of Engineering Auditorium, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. The occasion was a capacity-building seminar put together through the combined efforts of the Students Affairs division, FUNAAB, Office of the Dean, College of Engineering, and the Nigerian University Engineering Students Association in the university. I titled my presentation ‘The Blue Ocean Innovation’. 

The conversation became inherent having realized that to have an education and a life that is, apologies to Jim Rohn, built to last, we must, as young people, take responsibility and go beyond conventional actions. We must go beyond the red oceans – boundaries defined and accepted, the general marketplace, the common approaches – and engage untapped innovation, unrealized spheres through value creation. 

As I shared yesterday, I look forward to a FUNAAB community where students go beyond academic excellence and create value by putting solutions to social problems witnessed within the community. I look forward to students of the university birthing new ideas and following them through, engaging humans and technology, and giving courage to other young people across the world to do the same. As young people, we have the resources, but we must be resourceful. 

There are resources we can always tap into – either within or outside the invisible walls of our university. There are innovation-focused programmes and open courses (MOOCs), information banks, toolkits, and other resources available for only those who seek them. I shared with some friends what I learned from a 4-week course on Adaptive Leadership – a practical leadership framework developed by Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky at the Harvard Kennedy School, and offered to us by the Cambridge Leadership Associates (CLA) – which I recently concluded. Though I am studying Plant Physiology and Crop Production, it hasn’t debarred me from learning about the fundamentals involved in Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation; neither did it stop me from enrolling and learning about International Leadership and Organisational Behaviour in Bocconi University, Italy. 

From what our team at AllforDevelopment discovered when planning to create our social innovation lab that can empower young people with skills to create solutions through social entrepreneurship, sometimes what holds us back from making great decisions is just one factor – us. Our major limitations are the ones we accept. We need to stop ourselves from entertaining fear and start taking action. Our time at the university should be invested into learning, flying the flag of excellence, and creating value per time. 

It is high time we conscientiously consistently started creating value. Value is created when we concentrate not only on our personal growth but also on creating solutions to the problems faced by others. We embrace and make use of several innovations because they speak to our needs. The time is now to start thinking outside the box and generate simple but golden solutions. This is more than a call, it is a challenge. It is a challenge for us to be more than we currently are; a challenge for us not to allow what is in preventing what can be. I have over the years met several intelligent and smart FUNAABites, some have concluded a part of their studies, while others are still in school. Let us connect, engage one another, and make our ‘short’ stay within the University count positively. 

There is a blue ocean out there – and in here. We need to acknowledge it, dream solutions, and engage resources to create positive value. I am interested in reading about your exploits; several lives are in earnest expectation of your action. 

Make your family and the university proud! 

Your friend,