Innovation has taken up the Ugandan space the past few years and everyone is trying to innovate to have a better product or process and this is very evident in both the stable companies and the startups trying to build the next big company.
There is a lot of gambling going on as companies and startups are trying to build products just to see if they will stick or if the consumers will take them up and many have been disappointed because they are creating products but people are ignoring these products.
I have been trying to find a solution to this dilemma and I have found a few answers in my past work experience as a TAXI Conductor. Yes, you read that Right I was a Taxi conductor for a year and a half sometime back but if you think those guys can’t teach you anything about innovation then you should stop reading and get back to your work, am serious STOP reading and get back to Work.
I can see you are reading on which is why am going to tell you about a few of my learning as a TAXI Conductor and how just doing things differently made my work easy and made me more money and a lot of friends not forget the lessons I learnt about innovating along the way.
Observing is key:
Just to clear the air I was a TAXI conductor in both my Senior 4 and Senior 6 Vacations and while some of you were home seated behind a Big Screen watching 24 Series or Prison Break I was busy calling out people going to Kampala in the small town of Lyantonde in Western Uganda. When I had just started working in this business of transporting people most people travelling to Kampala always wanted to board a Bus and not a Taxi. This was bad for business, and my fellow colleagues would just try to prevent them from entering the buses which frustrated passengers more and harden their hearts to take the Taxis. Why did the passengers hate the Taxis so much? Why would my colleagues stop them from taking their preferred means of transport? What Could I do to make these passengers willingly take my Taxi? Observe the environment in which you leave and try to get insights of things people take for granted.
Question the existing Methods.
I started talking to the passengers and asked them what was really wrong, why did they hate taking a Taxi so much and most of them had the same issues and as it turns out most Taxis that were taking passengers to Kampala used to either stop on the way and give these passengers to other Taxis or the Taxis used to make a lot of stops along the way to board more people going to Kampala. As you can tell the passengers had valid Pain points for not taking taxis and instead of stopping them from boarding the bus, the solution was very clear >>>>>> Just find a better way of serving them that attracts them to board Taxis. Try to go against the status quo and question the way things are being done.
Eliminate the Pain Points:
Sometimes all you need to innovate is to eliminate Pain points and in my case all we had to do was to make sure we only boarded passengers going to Kampala and this eliminated the problem of people doubting weather we were going to stop on the way and logically I wouldn’t give away all the 14 passengers to another Taxi so that I can stop on the way. This change in process was very effective as it helped us to only focus on people going to our final destination and helped us move faster when we hit the road. Remove the little friction that people find while using your product or process.
Talking to customers and actually convincing them to travel with you was some other art I had to master. We mostly transported Business people who were always in a rush to go to Kampala and I learnt that most of them always enjoyed to read the Morning paper and so I made sure we had a copy every day and sometimes I moved out of my comfort zone to make conversation with very old people just to make them comfortable to travel with me and I would make sure I called their relatives and made sure they picked them when we got to Kampala and to my customers this meant everything. Move an extra mile to make people’s lives better.
So What Is Innovation to me?
Innovation to me is a process of realizing the pain points everyone is taking for granted and trying to provide pain killers or better ways. In my case I tried to create a better process and this paid off for me because it helped me make more money with a little effort and it wasn’t before long when everyone had changed to my way of doing work.
I know like myself, some of you are often confused when you are trying to create something or trying to improve a process but I will give you my benchmark for everything I do and how I consider them innovations. I always ask myself if the problem am trying to solve is affecting people daily and if my solution will make their lives better and if I get a Yes from my target market on both questions, then my process or product is an innovation however small my target market is.
This is an interesting debate and I will ask you to tweet me some of your thoughts or anything you want to add to the story @nickle_las. I will see you in the next one.Hits:2151