Just like short skirts, innovation has traditionally swung into and out of fashion. It becomes popular in good times and is tossed back into the closet in downturns. But as globalization tears down the geographic boundaries and market barriers that once kept businesses from achieving their potential, an institution’s ability to innovate and tap the fresh value-creating ideas of its employees and those of its partners, customers, suppliers, and other parties beyond its own boundaries is now the in thing. Indeed, innovation has become a core driver of growth, performance, and valuation.
The Director General at the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Prof. Geoffrey Wahungu, is convinced that resources, especially human capital, are the most critical in service delivery.
"Despite massive investments of management time and money, innovation remains a frustrating pursuit in many companies. This, one can tell from the people who work under them, who are the greatest asset available," said Prof Wahungu.
The NEMA chief executive was addressing Strategic Leadership Development Program (SLDP) participants in Lower Kabete, a majority of who were drawn from his institution. He urged the graduands to reflect on what they have learnt and exercise caution as they make decisions as that remains in their legacy as leaders. He also emphasized on the need to utilize available government procedures for reference and guidance when making any decisions. Available research indicates that innovation initiatives frequently fail, and successful innovators have a hard time sustaining their performance. It is clear that a strategy is nothing more than a commitment to a set of coherent, mutually reinforcing policies or behaviours aimed at achieving a specific competitive goal. Good strategies, it is documented, promote alignment among diverse groups within an organization, clarify objectives and priorities, and help focus efforts around them.
The research further indicates that more than 70 per cent of senior executives believe that innovation will be at least one of the top three drivers of growth for their institutions going forward. Other executives, however, see innovation as the most important way for institutions to accelerate the pace of change in today's global business environment.
"A strategic leader, therefore, should to be an innovator to serve the people well and for the betterment of our nation. As leaders, you are the role models and strategy makers of your respective organization’s and departments and you should steer people of innovation," said Prof Wahungu told the officers.
According to him, organizations have different ways of doing things which created a need to consult others when making decisions.
"Use the networks you have created here at the Kenya School of Government for the benefit of your organization as you help others to prosper," said Prof Wahungu.
He rooted for the use of the best strategies to deliver exemplary services, reflect on utilization of other Government tools and manuals when making decisions and identify what to improve for the benefit of the organization.
The Class President, Mr. Shadrack Muleli, who works at the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, argued that a leader is the one who develop his or her people, informing his colleagues that it will take their strategies to create a competitive advantage in their work places.
"It is imperative, therefore, that you promote innovation and take advantage of any network you have created for you to deliver excellent service to the people and the community. As a strategic leader, you should practice leadership by developing the people we work with," he urged them.
The course coordinator, Dr. Robert Ng’ang’a, urged the participants to be motivators in their work stations and the community at large. While delivering his remarks, Dr. Ng’ang’a urged the participants not to learn for the sake of the certificate and instead ensure they add value to their organization by applying the knowledge gained for the betterment of leadership roles thus coming up with innovations.