MIT News –
Nigeria may not be known as a global hub for innovation, but officials there hope someday it will be. And they’ve recruited MIT Professional Education to help jump-start the process.
In September, more than 80 top federal civil service officials from across ministries, departments and government agencies in Nigeria gathered in the capital city of Abuja to attend Radical Innovation, a two-day intensive training course taught by Sanjay Sarma, the Fred Fort Flowers and Daniel Fort Flowers Professor of Mechanical Engineering and vice president of open learning at MIT.
From shareholders to stakeholders
Sarma has taught tailored versions of the Radical Innovation course nearly two dozen times all over the world, but his participants are typically corporate professionals. This was one of the few times he spoke to an audience of career civil servants.
“These are people struggling with issues such as road construction, fisheries, and environmental impact — all in the same room,” says Sarma. “It actually brought me back to my own roots. My father was a civil servant in India. So, I was already familiar with some of the unique challenges civil servants face, having grown up in a developing country.”
Participants came to learn how the government can leverage innovation to deliver services more effectively to the public and promote economic diversity. According to Sarma, there was a universal openness to new ideas and willingness to embrace change. Everyone was looking to start some type of innovation, such as how data could be used to improve fisheries.