Online education portals like Udacity and Coursera are really changing the world of remote learning in significant ways. By making free and high quality education accessible to a global audience, these platforms are opening up undreamt of possibilities for communities around the world to improve, grow, and prosper in the digital economy of the 21st century. Education at top tier colleges and universities has traditionally been a social and economic privilege, but now anyone can join in the learning revolution by sitting in virtual classrooms with the world’s best and brightest educators. Whether this involves learning how to code and build smart phone apps, or starting up a new business, or learning about public health literacy, the sky is the limit of what’s now possible.

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Making Innovation central to your small business – part 2

Innovation gearsEvery business today is striving to discover the secret formula to innovation success. If they could just capture that formula and put it in a bottle then they’d truly be the company of the century. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) innovation is not that simple. If it was, everyone would be doing it!

True innovation takes talent, discipline, hard work, and sometimes just dumb luck! Remember Edison’s famous statement:

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Well, the same can effectively be said of innovation and innovators. Those who excel at it may not, in fact, consciously set out to do innovation. In fact, for them it may be such an innate quality that they can’t imagine doing otherwise.


One writer has compared the issues of business growth and innovation to the process of connecting dots. A client may be frustrated that employees are not noticing things that need correcting and seem so obvious to him or her. By analogy, this could exemplify the single difference between the innovator and the ordinary person: one sees the dots and connects them while others 1) didn’t see them or 2) if they did, they didn’t explore, question, or connect any of them.






So, for our purposes, innovation is about teaching people to “connect the dots”; innovation is  not all pure talent. While innate abilities certainly help, innovation is fortunately something that can be taught, learned, and reproduced.


The big question then for small business leaders is how to teach employees to “connect the dots” in order to bring value, improvement, and innovation to their workplace? Let’s dig into this topic deeper.


Don’t expect to reinvent the wheel


Businesses should NOT feel the need to start with developing something completely new or novel. There are always current processes that stand to be vastly improved. A great case in point is how Apple became a world leader in the art of innovation. The corporation didn’t invent the first personal computer, MP3 player, or tablet. Rather, through clever marketing and advertising it mastered the art of reinventing how we think of these devices. As one writer well says on this note, “Sometimes the way we present our product is just as important as the product itself.”


In order to innovate effectively don’t feel the need to “invent the next big thing.” Start innovation where you’re at, in your own corner of influence. Don’t look for the new and novel but rather start by examining the old. Look around at existing processes and see where you can apply new techniques to make them more efficient, faster, and more agile. Ask yourself the following question, “Is there a particular task, process, or routine in my job that is particularly painful, time-consuming, manual, and that can be automated?”


One place to start may be your existing customer service process. Review the way you present your brands, products and services and ask yourself, “How can we create a more memorable, smoother, friendlier experience for our customers?”






Company all-employee meetings can provide a great opportunity to generate new synergies and opportunities to brainstorm about innovation possibilities. During these sessions business leaders should always emphasize the importance that each person plays within the company. Be an encourager and give everyone the permission to creatively think of new ways to make his or her job as streamlined and efficient as possible. And recognize and reward them when they do begin to innovate!


To be continued . .  .


Ralph Eck

About Ralph Eck

Ralph is an international businessman with a wealth of experience in developing; telecommunications, data transmission, CATV and internet companies. His experience and expertise positions him uniquely in being able to; analyze, evaluate and critique technology and how it fits into a business’ operational needs while supporting its’ success.