Being Bold: Youth Creativity
More than once you have read in the headlines that prominent companies have invited some (very) young talents to their headquarters to share a great idea with their engineers or that they are hosting a youth technology summer camp with, in most cases, all costs covered (see “Spend the summer at Apple” or the Fraunhofer IIS Bavarian Junior Academy as a few example).
What is it with youth that makes their ideas so exciting? What are the benefits? Do you have to be a big name to do it too?
First and foremost: doing it for the good!
As a company, regardless of your size, being a good citizen and having a good reputation is important for business. You look for revenue, profit, expansion and more, but, if you give back to the community and care about the people, it brings folds of return on investment (yes... I wrote INVESTMENT). The time spent with educators and students of all ages is a well respected value in the business not only because you spread the word of your brand and technology into new generations (future customers) but also because you are a valuable community member for the parents (current customers) and you have prime access to a pool of future talented employees.
Cost vs. investment
During my +25 years of career in the high-tech industry, I have see the pendulum of investment into educational programs swing many times from “It is critical for our future” to “let’s focus on the current customers”, each time making it more difficult to renew contact with the educators and STEM organisations.
ADD RESOURCES = INVESTMENT PULL RESOURCES = COST
Education institutions are all about stability and long term commitment. Changing the content of a course or organising summer camps with educators require long term engagement (minimum 3 years) as the work involved to make it happen can be sizeable. In return, the investment of time and resources into those programs bring long-lasting market impact for your revenue and your next generations of products. If you pull out of it, your investment becomes a cost because you haven’t given it the time to become a value.
So why should you invest? After all, aren’t those the consumers of tomorrow and the ones that will define the needs of the market for the years to come?
When a 5-grader gets a response from Elon Musk or a 9-year old girl impresses Apple’s CEO
and gets an entry at the WWDC 2016 it is just not about marketing; it is about recognising that there are some very bright minds out-there that is motivated and address problems in a different way that we would normally do with our many years of experience. Research has shown that there is a correlation between career start and loss of creativity as explained in this article from the Scientific American. This explains the reason why young minds are more flexible and less restrained by logics and fears from seasoned professionals.
You too, should be part of it
In all areas of technology, especially when it comes to robotics and IoT, creativity is critical to differentiate your product on the market. Observing young minds at play (they are not working yet!), see how they resolve challenges, understand how they use today’s technology and anticipate their needs when they will be in age for making purchasing decisions is a critical part of your business’ future growth and long term strategy.
You can start today by teaming up with STEM organisations, invite educators to see what you do and discuss with them how to bring this to the classroom, create an environment in which your company’s minds interacts and exchanges knowledge with young minds (like summer camps, technology discovery days), create a home-grown Fablab accessible to young talents... The sky is the limit but there is one important rule: do it for the good for a long time!
Creating relationships with educational institutions requires time and showing the right value for a win-win approach. It is not a mainstream activity and the number of professionals that have a solid network to get you started are few. With a network of over 100 education institutions, Stiffan Consulting strives to help companies to act as a role model and work with educators, students and incubators to share knowledge, creating innovative demonstrators and proofs of concepts. By assisting you in reviewing your goals, understand the potential markets and validate the right approach, we help create the relationships and project manage collaborations with educational institutions, ensuring long-lasting product positioning and success.
Taking your Ideas beyond: www.stiffan.eu
© STIFFAN Consulting May 2017
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