Innovation is the key to a sustainable economy

Employees working at Yahoo! Maktoob office in Dubai Internet City. Innovation will be crucial to developing sustainable economic growth. (Nicole Hill / The National)
Employees working at Yahoo! Maktoob office in Dubai Internet City. Innovation will be crucial to developing sustainable economic growth. (Nicole Hill / The National)

This week, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, launched a wide-ranging campaign to fight poverty, build communities and encourage innovation in more than 100 countries.

Flashes of Thought, Sheikh Mohammed’s recent book, gives an insight into his leadership style, his vision and the components for a “happy” nation. The book’s messages continue to provoke debate and discussion.

Sheikh Mohammed writes: “Creativity and ideas can build countries and institutions. The future belongs to those who generate ideas.”

Unleashing people’s capability to innovate is unleashing their potential to produce. This can be done by embedding creative education programmes in the school system. A point of contact can be appointed at schools and universities.

Also, it’s not sufficient to have innovation rewards schemes for employees, but rather innovation must become an integral part of an organisation’s culture. For this to happen most organisations will have to become more “flat” and will have to unburden themselves from bureaucracy to enable ideas to reach the decision-makers.

We used to talk about knowledge management systems but there has been a noticeable shift to innovation hubs. Those hubs are more fluid, less systematic and more inviting. They are brainstorming rooms, creativity labs and start-ups. The focus is on creation.

“A true leader does not derive power from his position, but from his ethics, from people’s love for him, and from his knowledge, education and excellence in his field of work,” writes Sheikh Mohammed.

“We want to change the concept of leadership so that it includes anyone who has the ambitions and the will to change himself, and also to benefit his society.”

Modern leaders are people who embrace technology. They are innovative and exciting people. These are leaders who prefer to show rather than tell.

In the summer, Sheikh Mohammed launched his 21st Century Leader Model, a government programme designed to improve skills. The model declares innovation and entrepreneurship as essential parts of our future.

In his book, Sheikh Mohammed writes: “Our objective is to rank among the top 10 countries on the global entrepreneurship and development index.”

This development should start with entrepreneurship programmes at public schools and universities and should be backed up by appointing contact points at those institutions. Milestones should be set to measure the performance of these courses.

Other programmes should provide support for small businesses and provide platforms for the community to get together and brainstorm.

Public sector employees are also encouraged to become “intrapreneurs” or “governpreneurs”, where they are thought leaders in their own organisations.

Entrepreneurship education in my opinion is not only the way forward in changing mindsets in the public and private sector, but also the key factor in a sustainable economy.

Ethar El Tinay works for the Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Leadership Development

Published: October 5, 2015 04:00 AM

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