Wednesday, July 21st, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
In the current world, innovation is found all round us. From modern technologies to new business models, innovation is now part of what we do in almost every aspect of life.
While some organisations are still shy to embrace innovation, many have chosen to invest time, effort, and money in finding new and better ways of doing things.
These organisations have an advantage over the others as it helps them grow, building a competitive edge in the process. It is that simple.
It is important that organisations encourage innovations within themselves. It is not a must that an organisation looks outside its establishment for innovative ideas.
The same goes with Africa and other economies in the developing world. Today, thanks to South-to-South cooperation, we should encourage home grown solutions.
At the organisational level, most employees, if given an opportunity, can come up with ideas that are capable of transforming their organisations.
Encouraging creativity among employees should, therefore, be at the core of an organisation’s planning.
To do this, employee engagement must be part of every business’s strategy. People tend to support ideas, projects or initiatives which they have been involved in developing.
As such there is need for employees to be kept aware of the company’s strategies and challenges, and their input welcomed. Their active participation will fuel more ideas.
Secondly, for organisations to realise the innovative capabilities of their workforce, they must build trust between themselves and their employees.
They must trust them to take safe risks and attempt new ways of doing things.
When institutions become too critical of their employees especially when things go wrong, they become too careful in what they do which limits them from being creative.
People tend to hold back on making suggestions or offering ideas if they are worried about potential consequences in case of failure.
As it is often said, two are better than one. Encouraging employees to collaborate in coming up with innovations can yield better results.
The single-most aspect that limits most employees’ creativity is the lack of a suitable mechanism that allows them to express their creativity.
It is critical that organisations create mechanisms that will allow employees to front innovative ideas.
This is an area that the Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KenGen) has excelled and continues to find new ways to do things.
Through its annual Global Innovation Seminar, the company has managed to offer a platform for its employees to pitch their innovative ideas.
The seminar brings together KenGen employees and local and international stakeholders to discuss innovative ideas through which the organisation can enhance its value proposition and service offering as it continues to execute its core mandate of producing electricity.
Last month, KenGen held its 9th Annual Global Innovation Seminar virtually, further highlighting the organisation’s soft spot for innovation and willingness to adapt to change in line with prevailing circumstances.
These platforms have been instrumental in bringing out great ideas which have helped the company advance its diversification strategy.
Beyond ideation, KenGen has moved forward to making the innovations commercially viable contributing directly to the bottom line.
Financially, KenGen has earned revenues to the tune of Sh2.6 billion from commercial innovation initiatives over the last nine years.
From the innovative ideas, KenGen has been able to provide geothermal drilling and consultancy services locally and regionally, established the Gitaru drinking water project which supplies drinking water to staff, commissioned a Calibration Centre, established an energy saving initiative through the installation of a solar grid tie system in Eastern and Coast regions within the administration block and street lighting as well as operationalisation of the Geothermal Spa.
Currently, KenGen has registered three patents with 37 under application, 12 trademarks, with 12 being under application, 89 copyrights, with 67 being under application, and three utility models under application. — The writer is KenGen PLC Managing Director and CEO