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Demystifying the Innovation Paralysis

In a conversation on innovation in Nigeria, I had made a case that products must not be extremely complicated to be innovative.  My point is that the water closet (the toilet seat) might have done more for the world than the aeroplane. Complexity should not be the litmus test for innovation: we can still innovate as startups in Nigeria without truck loads of cash and NASA engineering vision. Sure, having those would not be bad. This is our conversation.

Comment #1: But a struggling startup may not survive for long by free invention or very cheap one. Diamond bank had already gained traction when it came up with that. For a start-up? Even your landlord may be asking for your head, the honeymoon is very short; if the money isn't coming, you are doomed!

My Response: No, the FREE does not mean it has to be free. Diamond Bank had no traction. DIBS was the traction. My point is that we must not see innovation to mean more expensive things. What the Google guy was saying that we need to look at things from a new angle. Taking time to think and invent new ways must not be associated with pricing.

Comment #2: Ndubuisi Ekekwe It gets really hard for startups. For instance innovation in third world market definitely comes with a price tag and that is excluding the sleepless nights of hard thoughts to put it all together.

My Response: You seem to think that innovation must be hard to be credible. Post-IT note is a patented product. McDonald's paper to hold potato chips is a trademarked item. One Click is an Amazon patent. My problem is that we think in Nigeria that things must be hard before they could be great. That is not true. One of the greatest products, the toilet seat (the white one with nice ceramics; yes the water closet), is so simple, easy to use that no one needs a manual. That is more innovative than aircraft in advancing humanity.

Simply, we cannot be in the trap that unless it is a rocket, we cannot find alpha in the market through smarter ways of doing things.

Both complexity and simplicity are relative terms, the principal thing being the PERSON. What seems a great feat to one person could be an everyday simple routine to another.

We need to understand these things and apply them appropriately, perhaps it could help make the perceived expensive process become cheap. It boils down to having the right person taking care of things.

So, the first step towards innovation for an entrepreneur would be to figure out how to achieve a great feat with minimal effort and resources, from there everything becomes seamless and practicable.