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Cultivating Creativity and Inspiring Innovation

Posted on June 15 2016 | Author: Mary Dimou

Entrepreneurship has emerged as a feasible and exhilarating career for many millennials and provides an opportunity for baby boomers seeking change. In fact, the support of this community is absolutely overwhelming. Governments are offering non-dilutive funding and grants for new research and development; while, sophisticated investors are seeking to diversify their portfolios with high-risk opportunities in exchange for equity, control, and hopefully, large returns.

You’ve likely given some thought to joining the ranks of entrepreneurship; and have asked yourself: Where do you go and how do you start? 

First things first, a great idea can manifest in a multitude of ways, can be thought of anywhere, and can transcend into a variety of industries. It generally starts with a state of mind and a helpful reminder that anyone has the potential to be “creative”; and therefore, “innovate”. 

So let’s talk about two of the words you’ll hear in your early stages – “creativity” and “innovation”.  What are they? Can we define them? And, why do so many definitions exist? To be honest, there are many schools of thoughts pertaining to bolstering creative thinking and implementing innovation into business practices.

Here are two basic definitions to start with:

  • Creativity is a “mental characteristic that allows a person to think outside of the box, which results in innovative or different approaches to a particular task”1.
  • Innovation is “the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay”1.

In the start-up and small business network, an inordinate level of creativity and novelty are expressed through a variety of outlets and avenues; for instance: a new idea, a novel process, or an original solution to an existing problem. Your support can start at an academic institution, can be housed in an Incubator, and/or be nurtured holistically at an Accelerator.

In the early stages of entrepreneurship, developing creativity into a habit is critical.

Robert Epstein, PhD, a psychologist focused on the concept of “routine creativity” has conducted research that correlates high creativity and innovation into four core skill sets2.

  1. Capturing new ideas2 – be equipped with a notebook and writing instrument; or, even record new ideas on your phone or tablet.
  2. Seeking out challenging tasks2 – brainstorm different solutions to tasks you’re familiar with, or as a brain teaser, take on tasks deemed impossible and offer just as improbable solutions.
  3. Broadening your knowledge2 – read articles in unrelated fields, watch a documentary on a subject of interest, explore international business practices.
  4. Surrounding yourself with interesting things and people2 – stimulating conversation with interesting friends or family with diverse backgrounds, travelling to new places, or altering your workspace with new gadgets and memorabilia.

Most importantly, don’t get frustrated – although researchers have just started scratching the surface of creativity; most will agree that an optimistic frame of mind and cheerful attitude are fundamental. Stress, lack of sleep, and disarray inhibit the creative process and new idea generation. Perpetuating an environment conducive to creative thinking will come in hand through many of life’s challenges and will only aid in positive mental health. Whether, you’re heading down the path of entrepreneurship or perhaps seeking to improve existing processes in your own workplace – a creative outlook is always your alley.


Mary Dimou
Senior Analyst, Regulatory Affairs & Sustainability 



1. BusinessDictionary.com
2. American Psychological Association. The Science of Creativity. 

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Feeding The World Requires A Surprising Ingredient

Posted on June 08 2016 | Author: Admin

National Agriculture Day is set aside in America to recognize and celebrate the abundance of food provided by the agricultural sector. The date this year is March 15, so now seems a good time to celebrate how far agriculture has come and think about how far we still need to go in order to feed the world.

The Great Food Divide
The Green Revolution of the 1970s was one of the most transformative times global agriculture has seen. We dramatically increased the availability and reduced the cost of basic grains, which made many foods less expensive. With more disposable income, because families didn’t have to spend so much on rice and wheat, people could enjoy a more diverse diet with more protein.

Today in the developed world, food diversity and security are so taken for granted that attention has turned to premium-priced, specialty foods, sometimes sardonically called “food for the 1 percent.” Examples include non-GMO and organic foods; free range poultry and eggs; locally sourced “artisanal” meats, vegetables and dairy products; gluten-free and lactose-free foods, among many others. These trends get media and consumer attention for their purported health benefits; but realistically, they are out of reach in terms of cost or availability for most of the world’s population.

To be clear, we have nothing against “food for the 1 percent” trends, especially if it means more money for growers and producers. But by 2050, the United Nations estimates we’ll need to feed an additional 1 billion people, an expected global population of 9.6 billion. By some estimates, this will require us to produce as much food in the next 25 years as has been produced in the past 10,000 years.

To address the need, a new Green Revolution is underway, one that combines biotechnology with smarter agricultural practices and equipment, to take the next step toward higher crop yields in the face of declining land available for farming. However, for us to succeed in the face of expected population trends, another, less visible ingredient is needed: infrastructure.

The Critical Ingredient: Infrastructure
If farmers are to provide all strata of society with the fresh, healthy foods – while also ensuring that farming continues as a livelihood for many around the world, the logistical costs inherent in the global food system must be reduced. Infrastructure is just as vital to the success of the newest Green Revolution as seed and crop nutrients are.

Roads and Rail
Roads and rail link farmers to crop inputs and offer access to competitive markets, where they can sell their crops for a better price than what may be available locally. Yet in many countries, roadways and rail transportation are antiquated, or worse, non-existent. The U.S. State Department estimates that nearly one-third of global agricultural production either arrives in poor condition or never makes it to consumers at all. This is waste the 99 percent cannot afford.

In Brazil, the world’s ninth largest economy continues to struggle because its transportation infrastructure isn’t keeping up with its economic progress. Many Brazilian highways cannot support the largest, most efficient tractor-trailer units; instead, smaller, less efficient vehicles navigate dusty or gravel roads.

In Africa, less than 50 percent of the rural population lives close to adequate roads, making it difficult for farmers to advance beyond feeding their own families and local villages.

Proper Storage
Proper storage is another critical component of infrastructure. Governments and the private sector can help here by providing incentives and financing for farmers to band together to build the kinds of storage facilities that will enable them to keep their crops dry and available year-round to markets, not just in season. Refrigerated storage is needed to make fresh, healthy foods available to urban populations. This takes financing and electricity.

Infrastructure: Key to Food for the Future
Strong infrastructure – such as roads, rail routes, storage, and refrigeration, which the developed world takes for granted – is hugely important to keeping smallholder farming profitable and to ensuring that fresh, healthy foods reach the billions of the earth’s inhabitants. National governments and international development organizations recognize the need and are taking steps. But in the race against hunger in the face of a burgeoning population, ever more creative and entrepreneurial talent will be needed to develop infrastructure solutions.


Written by: David Turner, Managing Partner at Kincannon & Reed

About Kincannon & Reed
Kincannon & Reed recruits leaders for organizations that feed the world and keep it healthy. Their focus is on the interrelated realms of food, agribusiness, and life science. Their clients range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, as well as investment funds, financial institutions, industry associations, universities, and non-profit and development organizations. This sector knowledge streamlines the search process and enables them to better asses a candidates organizational fit and more compellingly present to them a client’s opportunity. In addition, the principals at Kincannon & Reed are former senior executives from the sectors they serve. This distinctive difference allows them to understand at a personal level, not just at an intellectual level, the environment in which you operate. The result is a quality conversation around your needs and a smoother recruitment process. To learn more about Kincannon & Reed, visit: www.KRsearch.com


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How To Invest In Your Employees Beyond Giving A Raise

Posted on June 01 2016 | Author: Admin

When it comes to retaining your team, money isn’t everything.

Sure, salary increments are always going to be an employee’s top concern, but there are other ways to show value that doesn’t equate to another zero on the end of a paycheque. Personal investments are often more valuable and effective than financial increases, and will set the path for a mutually beneficial relationship.

Everyone wants to earn more, but increasing an employee’s salary doesn’t address other issues that often equate to a high turnover. By approaching your staff as people first, and employees second, you will be creating a company that cares about its team on a deeper level. In many cases, it will motivate the team further.

Whether you’re a small business owner or a Fortune 500 company, there are several ways to advance an employee without a title change or payment increase:

Offer flexible work schedules A study by Millennial Branding shows 45 per cent of this generation prefer workplace flexibility over higher pay. And with 75 per cent of the workforce expected to be made up of Millennials by 2025, managers can often attract and retain their team by foregoing the traditional 9 to 5. Implementing flexible hours can be a huge perk for working parents who are juggling their children’s schedules and daycare on top of their professional duties.

Offer staff the option of working from home a few days a week, or allow them to start and end the work day any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. The key for managers to adapt this approach is to first establish trust, set measurable targets and expectations and communicate effectively.

Say thank you It’s amazing what these two little words can do for your company. Yet despite it’s simplicity, so many managers forget to say it. Appreciation and acknowledgment are  pillars of any successful relationship, whether it be with your spouse, friends, or staff. It is amazing what a simple Thank You card, or even a quick email can do for the morale. It can even propel an underperforming employee to step up her game, as the reason for her slump may be due to feeling taken for granted.

Hitting a quarterly target or bringing in new clients are perfectly good reasons to say congratulations and express thanks; however, don’t forget the small actions that lead to those big achievements. Thank someone for showing up to every meeting on time, helping on-board a new employee, or even cleaning up in the lunchroom. Just make sure it’s sincere and delivered authentically so that they understand they’re appreciated.

Provide professional development Investing in your employees’ skills sends several messages. The first is that you want to foster a long-term relationship and cultivate their future. The second is that you’re open to giving them more responsibility by adding to their skill sets. And finally, that you don’t want them to get bored in their current role. Whether it’s a night course, weekend workshop, or in-office training, offering continued education will not only help build loyalty but also propel your company further by advancing your team’s skills. In all, it’s a win-win.

Whether you implement flexible work hours, exercise more appreciation, or offer professional development, these investments will do wonders for your workplace culture and morale. A company that sees their team as people rather than merely staff is an invaluable metric that far outweighs the dollar sign.


Provided by: Financial Post
By Mandy Gilbert, CEO of Creative Niche

Click here to view the original article. 

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