Creativity and innovation – 2 words that often appear alongside one another but certainly aren’t the same thing.
Creativity deals with the imagination and thought. It’s about using one’s imagination to create something new.
Innovation on the other hand deals with action; it’s about changing something that already exists or improving on what’s already established.
Cars, bicycles, wheelbarrows, trolleys… all these moving parts have one thing in common, they all have a wheel / wheels. The wheels are essential to the movement – a humble piece of technology that has changed the world. And it all started with an idea, a thought moving around someone’s mind that gave us the wheel. Not the wheel as we know it today and has undergone years and years of innovation, no. The original wheel was just a block with a hole in the middle and was used to facilitate the movement of heavy objects.
The invention of the wheel is the product of creativity, with the need for it pushing the originators of this idea to imagine a world outside of the one that they occupy – a world with wheels. And now the wheel is considered to be one of the greatest human inventions, alongside the printing press, gunpowder and the satellite (to name a few) and they were all made possible through the power of creativity.
A few days ago my sister showed me a tweet that read, “South Africa was a peaceful country before e-wallets.” I laughed but the post also got me thinking about the e-wallet and how something so simple has actually managed to change the landscape of banking in the short time it’s been around.
An e-wallet is a way of sending money but instead of saving money to an account, the money is saved to a “wallet” which is actually the recipients cellphone number. Which acts as a temporary bank account / electronic wallet. An FNB user can send money to anyone, the recipient doesn’t have to bank with FNB. When the money is transferred, the recipient receives an SMS notifying them that they have been sent money, the SMS also contains a pin that the recipient can use to access their money at any FNB ATM. The pin expires in 4 hours and if the pin expires then the recipient can request a new one by dialing *120*277# and following the prompts.
The e-wallet is an example of what Guy Kawasaki in his Ted Talk, The Art of Innovation would describe as innovation that is intelligent, elegant, revolutionary and valuable. It improved the banking system and experience for users, making sending and receiving money easier. When people want to send money instantly they don’t have to go through the whole process of filling in account details and waiting for money to clear (or paying the clearance fees). People can even send money to people without bank accounts and you don’t need to have a smartphone to receive money.
Being innovative is about looking at what’s there and going beyond it. It’s about doing, seeing the gap and acting on it. To be truly innovative a business must constantly seek ways to be better in the way that they do things and better the space that they occupy, not by taking baby steps forward but great leaps. Some of the most innovative companies in the world are Netflix, Apple, Amazon and YouTube because they’ve successfully gone beyond what is known and raised the bar for their competitors and exceed the expectations of their customers.
Sometimes it feels like the well of ideas has run dry and then someone comes up with something brilliant and you think, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Why didn’t you, why didn’t any of your employees? Because while creativity and innovation aren’t the same thing, they both thrive in an environment that facilitates freedom, encourages unconventional thinking, allows people to fail and spend less time on the how and more on the what.
This week HKLM will be hosting it’s first ever Orange Den for our quarterly Innovation Day. HKLM staffers have split themselves into teams and will be pitching ideas to management that HKLM can use to bring more value to our clients. Staying with the true spirit of Innovation Day, it’s all about the ideas so we have encouraged HKLM staff to think big, out of the box and spend less time on how and more on what. The teams with the best ideas will move onto the second round where they delve into the implementation of their idea (or ideas if they have more than one) and the teams that presents the best idea will win an all expenses paid trip to Cape Town for Design Indaba!