Successful businesses are those that look for and act on their opportunities and in doing so improve their competitiveness. This is especially relevant in our current rollercoaster economy. Progressive businesses shape and adapt to change: they re-assess their operations to better understand what is making them money or costing them money, and then act accordingly to improve.
To better deal with change, companies can seek the help of the Grande Prairie Regional Innovation Network (GPRIN lead by CRI) and Alberta Innovates Technology Futures to explore new opportunities and cost-savings.
Some businesses see “doom and gloom” all around them and the best they do is ‘ride it out’ and hope to be still operating when the economy recovers. For others, the current business climate is viewed as a challenge and their curiosity leads them to explore and find innovations that improve their business operations.
At a recent Rotary meeting, Shannon Zwicker, Alberta Science Council, spoke about curiosity and innovation. And how being curious opens a person to new opportunities. What I really enjoyed was how she questioned the audience and encouraged them to think about what were the most appropriate answers or thoughts each of us had, rather than telling us her answer. In other words, she let us use our curiosity and imaginations to explore rather than giving us the answer. She gave hints on how to become more curious, such as by “just making something without using detailed plans or instructions”. That example is what is being used in ‘makerspace incubators’ to spur creativity and understanding on how things work. For more information check out the Alberta Science Council.
Shannon reminded us about “Curious George” that troublesome monkey character that loved to explore. She explained how curiosity leads to creativity and innovation and that even a basic question like ‘what am I seeing that is new or different’ helps us to be curious.
When the GP Regional Innovation Network looks at industry trends and economic fluctuations (our rollercoaster economy) such as those presented and discussed at the Growing the North Conference 2015, our curiosity levels elevate as we imagine new opportunities for the region.
Wikipedia describes ‘curiosity’ as a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning, evident by observation … the term can also be used to denote the behavior itself being caused by the emotion of curiosity. As this emotion represents a thirst for knowledge, curiosity is a major driving force behind scientific research and other disciplines of human study. “The curiosity-drive model states that experiences that are novel and complex create a sensation of uncertainty in the brain, a sensation perceived to be unpleasant, such as our current economy. Curiosity acts as a means in which to dispel this uncertainty. By exhibiting curious and exploratory behaviour, we are able to learn more about the novel stimulus and thus reduce the state of uncertainty.”
Ali Llewellyn with the Johnson Space Center speaks to “NASA powers innovation that creates new jobs, new markets, and new technologies. There are opportunities to improve business operations by removing waste or non-productive activities that customers don’t want to continue paying for”. She notes five keys to their approach: being committed to openness; building extremely diverse and agile teams; removing obstacles to innovation; creating opportunities for collaboration; and sharing their story.
We recognize resources are limited which in turn helps us be curious, creative and innovative.
The GP Regional Innovation Network is focusing on key priorities and or grand challenges facing the region. For more information on its projects and priorities give us a call at 780-539-2718 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The GPRIN and CRI continue to champion the culture of innovation in the region and the importance of innovation as an economic development strategy to grow communities.
New ideas and innovation surround us, so be a Curious George and act on your innovative ideas.