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A Digital Mindset is Essential for Future Innovation

Dr. Wayne Frederick, President of Howard University, contributes to the panel discussion, 'Building a Digital Mindset for Future Innovation' at the bmobile Connect Technology Conference on January 30 at the Hyatt Regency. Dr. Frederick is joined by iGovTT CEO, Kirk Henry, Moderator Lorenzo Hodges, Nagicor Executive Andre Mills and President of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Ronald Hinds.

From the ubiquity of smartphones and smart TVs to the mainstreaming of smart homes, digital technology is disrupting every part of our day-to-day lives as consumers. Technology has raised our expectations of the organisations with whom we conduct business.  Public and private enterprises are more and more forced to leverage technology and innovate solutions that increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their product and service delivery. How do we turn the tide, particularly in a country like Trinidad and Tobago, where we have traditionally been consumers rather than producers of innovative solutions? The answer may lie in building a digital mindset.

“Leaders need to step up to the plate. If cultures of organisations don’t get reformatted to facilitate a future focus, we will be stuck. We have to look at the mindset that allows innovation to thrive,” believes Lorenzo Hodges, the CEO and Innovation Strategist at Plain White Table Inc, a Trinidad-based boutique innovation strategy firm that designs innovation strategies, new business models and new products for companies. Hodges was speaking in his role as moderator during a panel discussion at the bmobile Connect Technology Conference 2019, where the panellists proposed that good leadership, and an environment that fosters risk-taking and team empowerment are the keys to building a digital mindset for future success.

Panellist Ronald Hinds, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, agreed with Hodges. “Leadership has to take responsibility for driving the ship of innovation,” said Hinds as he lamented, “T&T is a net importer of innovation.” Hinds also cautioned, “If you don’t start with the perspective, the sense that you can do it, then you won’t do it. It’s a belief system that permeates an organisation’s culture and determines whether employees adopt a mindset for innovation and risk. “

The panel agreed that building a digital mindset for human innovation in organisations requires leaders to establish an environment that fosters risk-taking and empowers team members to make decisions and fail forward. They also suggested one-to-one contact and rapport with team members may be the secret sauce for building a culture and mindset for the future.

“Innovation is a mindset...leaders have to empower staff to make decisions without the fear of making the wrong decision,” said Nagicor Exec Andre Mills. 

bmobile Connect Technology Conference keynote speaker and panellist, Dr Wayne Frederick, President of Howard University stressed on the value of encouraging experimentation. “The good thing about experimentation is the ability to fail. You’ll learn new things. You will learn what works and what does not work.”

Despite the public sector’s notoriety for its bureaucracy, Kirk Henry, is championing the modernisation of the sector in his role as CEO of iGovTT, the entity responsible for implementing government’s enterprise-wide ICT strategy. He asserted the need for Trinidad and Tobago to move from being consumers to producers of new methodologies, new ways and new solutions.”

Advocating for cultural change, Henry stated there is a degree of risk taking that forms part of creativity.  “We have to recognise that it takes a certain level of courage and not everything that comes to the fore would become a hit. It is important that leaders look at what is not working and figure out what we need to do to contribute to the mindset change.”