Innovation – Mandatory For Solving Future Problems?

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I’ve had a sudden interest in the word “Innovation” ever since I was accepted to currently attend Stanford University’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Professional Certificate Program just a couple of months ago. I had applied to the program a while ago, filled out some forms, did a couple of tests, wrote a couple of essays and received the acceptance letter several weeks after applying. I was thrilled and excited to be part of a high-caliber university and began my journey to understand Innovation.

Throughout the past, I’ve never studied Innovation nor dug out its essence because I’ve always correlated the word Innovation with Invention. I thought they sounded similar so I figured they just meant the same. And you’ve guessed it, I was completely wrong as Innovation is completely different than Invention.

Below is the simple definition of the difference between Innovation and Invention:

Invention is the “creation of a product or introduction of a process for the first time.” Thomas Edison was an inventor.

Innovation happens when someone “improves on or makes a significant contribution” to something that has already been invented. Steve Jobs was an innovator.

We can see that by improving something that has already been invented, Innovation drives the creation of new companies, new jobs, improves efficiency, effectiveness and improves the quality of products and services.

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Then I start thinking, how does this relate to your own current job and your ability to innovate within your own company. How will Innovation make an impact to your job and impact your company better. How are you going to find new improved ways of doing things. How will you improve going forward and turn that “status quo” statue into a living-breathing organism that will move, run, and decide. These are the things that Innovation can answer whether that be improving the many processes that exist within the company, the bravery to create significant change, to define precisely what the issues are instead of guessing based on no data and calling it concrete and lastly by moving forward as a growing company.

Below are some of the questions that can be answered through Innovation for your company.

1) How do you make your employees have the mindset of always “over-delivering” against their own compensation they are receiving.

2) How do you make your employees have a service mindset. Meaning servicing their own colleagues, servicing their team mates, servicing their clients. How do you make subordinates have the mindset of servicing their boss and bosses servicing their subordinates.

3) How do you make your company be a learning organization, where every single employee is truly motivated and hungry for an improved self and an improved way of doing things?

4) How do you implant the mindset to your employees that this company as if it is their own company. If they don’t do things right, the company will fall. How do you make your sales people think, “If I don’t sell this, my family won’t eat tonight.” How do you make your operational people think, “If I don’t improve this by doing it continually better, my family won’t eat tonight.” How do you make your Finance people say, If I don’t save this much money or advise my company on future financial decision making, my family won’t eat tonight.

5) How do you build solid communication amongst teams for effective productivity.

6) How do you retain the highest talent and remove those slowing down the company.

7) How can your decisions guard quality across the board and sustain it.

8) How can you make your company increase the bottom line.

9) How do you beat the competition.

10) How do you have long term die hard fans (customers) for your brand.

These are some of the questions that can drive Innovation in your company.

Careers That Don’t Require a University or College Degree

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When people think of careers, many say that to have a promising long-term career, you’ll need to start out with a 4-year college degree. This isn’t true at all. With the rise of the internet, free flow of information, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and many niche networks amongst community professionals, there are many options to choose a career without the need of a 4-year college degree. Some of the professions include the following:

• Salesman
• Designer
• Retail Clerk
• Firefighter
• Plumber / Electrician
• Internet Marketer
• Truck Driver / Company Driver

Salesman
One of the fastest growing careers for anyone without possessing a college degree is to enter the sales force of any company; that be either at a startup or an established company to become their salesman. A salesman will always be needed in all companies around the world that seeks income/revenue as part of their business model. Being a salesman can be rewarding, stressful and fun at the same time. There are many fancy names to describe the salesman out in the job market. Starting your career as a salesman can take you far places in your career if you stick at it and focus on results. Many of the greatest CEOs in the world started out as salesmen early on in their career.

Designer
If you’re into designing, love to draw, into art, fashion and decorating things, you don’t need a 4-year college degree to begin your career as a designer. You can start learning on your own through books, online, attending events, speak with people of experience and learn about the usage of software designs such as Photoshop, CorelDraw, etc and begin your career. Careers in designing are usually based on portfolios of your past work. You don’t need to get a college degree to begin starting to work on your portfolio. You can start for free to do work to build your portfolio for your future offers.

Retail Store Clerk
When you’re purchasing a chocolate bar at your local convenient store, you will always have someone greet you in the counter in front of the cashier to help you make a purchase on what it is you need to buy. This person will most likely manage the logistics, counter and shelf’ing of goods in a retail store. They will also help on the administration with the store. With this career, you don’t need a 4-year college degree to begin as a retail store clerk.

Firefighter
To be a firefighter, you don’t need to start with a 4-year degree to enter the profession. You will need to take some training courses that will enhance your skills and qualifications for you to move up the ranks. Experience is the number one aspect for you to succeed and reach far as a fire fighter. Start by taking fire fighting courses to begin your career. You don’t need a 4-year college degree to start.

Plumber / Electrician
To begin your career as a plumber / electrician you must love the work and to begin your career you certainly do not need a 4-year college degree to start. You can begin at anytime getting hands-on-experience around your own household. But I agree, to go far in your career, you’ll need to invest some training courses to enhance your qualifications and build a reputation of great work amongst customers and the people you’ll work with. You can start now and get your feet wet by on the job training or learning online to start beginning your career.

Internet Marketer
To begin your career as an internet marketer, the number one thing you’ll need to have access to is the internet. From there you can learn everything online and discuss with people who’ve done it. You can participate in community events and discuss in forums online to learn the skills you’ll need as an internet marketer. You can be of any age to begin your career as an internet marketer. You don’t need a 4-year college degree to begin your career in this field.

Truck Driver / Company Driver

To begin your career as a driver, the number thing you’ll need is a driver’s license, safety training certificate and experience. You don’t need a 4-year college degree to begin your career as a driver. One of the keys to success is to be able to work under a team and follow, listen to a set of instructions given of your duties. You can begin anytime as long as you have the skills to drive and passionate about your job. You can have a good long-term career as a driver without the need of a 4-year college degree.

In conclusion, careers don’t necessarily need to begin upon receiving a college degree. If you have the chance to get a college degree do grab it, but remember, when you don’t possess a college degree you can still start your career with any of those 7 options as your starting point to success. Keep learning, persevere and may success be with you.

Think, Re-think & Action

From my experiences in the corporate world, attending IPMI International Business School (www.ipmi.ac.id) for my MBA (Masters) was one of the best decisions of my life.  It has played a huge role into my daily work-life in the office and especially in driving concrete results.  It also gives me the ability to speak with various other divisions outside of my own division using “their” language to spark critical thinking conversation, as I am currently in the Division of Marketing & Business Development.  It also lets me see things with much more clarity.

In attending business school, I didn’t only learn about the nuts and bolts of business such as finance, accounting, marketing, operations, human resources, business strategy, etc, but I also learned the importance of interaction within groups and teams to discuss cases and issues for decision making.  I also learned that for you to get results in Marketing, you have to go out there in the field to network and talk to people. I mean talk to real people with real conversations; not those virtual conversations, but those genuine relationships you build with people.  Upon graduation, I gained a handful of network and connections while being in Business School and automatically part of the large alumni of former graduates.

I also learned the importance of soft skills, attitude and processes.  And, I learned that for you to seek a solution, you must have to first define the correct problem.  If you rush into solution seeking without digging deeper in the problem definition, you might be wasting your time finding a solution for the wrong problem. Also I learned that when you can conclude or investigate something, you have to base it on concrete data and come back with more concrete data to back up your justification.

But in addition to all that, I think one of the most important things I learned at business school is the ability to think; or in other words, learning about the art of thinking.  Having the ability to think is the core of a corporate employee and the core of being successful (In being successful I mean, being able to accomplish what you want to do while benefiting others and getting rewarded for it in terms of money, prestige, links, respect, etc.)

Not many employees realize that they are paid a salary to think.  This is one of the most important things any manager needs to understand. They are paid to find sustainable solutions effectively and efficiently for the organization they’re working for by thinking. Thinking is hard work and takes a lot of energy, that’s why few do it and that’s why few are masters at it.

In conclusion, you don’t need to take my word for it to be where you want to be.  I’m basing this on my own experiences.  Remember that if you are a paid employee, you are paid or given a monthly salary to think, make decisions, develop your team (if you have a team to manage) or be a team player, take responsibility for those decisions, take action, and improve that process all over again. Cheers.

By the way:  I graduated from IPMI International Business school > http://www.ipmi.ac.id