Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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Bringing Forth a New Thing!

Happy second week of Spring!

Tis the season of rebirth and hope! And in keeping with my intention to share gems I harvested during my sabbatical, I am excited to explore the realm of creation today.
Last week, we explored the value of getting fresh perspectives and resetting expectations. Also, we examined how opportunities surface when we open our minds and look at the world nonjudgmentally. You may check out the piece here: Fresh Perspectives and New Expectations – BLOG – akesatia.com

After strengthening our ability to see life through a different lens, it seems fitting to explore how ideas move from ethereal concepts to concrete manifestations. This is the realm of creativity, and in business circles, it is often referred to as INNOVATION. I think of creativity and innovation as steps on a ladder wherein taking one step enables you to take the other. But what exactly are the steps?
Some have wisely said: 
Creativity is coming up with new ideas, and innovation is successfully implementing a new and useful idea. (51) Creativity and Innovation: What’s the Difference? | LinkedIn
Now, you may be thinking: Whenever I turn the corner someone is selling something new! Don’t we have enough stuff as-is? Do we really need more?
And if this is how you feel, I can confidently say you are not alone. Indeed, many have shared this sentiment!

The next best thing!

Undeniably, as a society, we are fixated on coming up with the next best thing or doing the next best thing. Therefore, (continual) innovation is a goal for many organizations. And this is reflected in many organizations’ strategic plans which would lead one to ask How successful are companies in driving innovation? According to McKinsey, 84% of executives believe innovation is important for growth, but only 6% are satisfied with their performance in innovating. Growth & Innovation | Strategy & Corporate Finance | McKinsey & Company

Yes, you read that right! 6% of executives are satisfied with their performance in innovating! Unfortunately, I have a hunch that this is not a big surprise to many of us. And as we know, coming up with a good idea is one thing, but making it come to life is another ballgame. Because implementation is difficult! And innovation is grounded in successful implementation. It is where an idea moves from ethereal to concrete – a product or service.

Unfortunately, sometimes, this metamorphosis doesn’t happen because some assume that to innovate is to create from nothing. Or to invent a thing that was not thought of by anyone else. But what about cooperation and improvement? Many worthwhile developments that propel society were the result of teamwork, not individual heroic feats.
Consider your professional pursuits! Most of us bask in glory when we are acknowledged for our professional accomplishments. However, when we reflect on all we have accomplished, we can often name at least one other person who enabled us to attain success.

Nothing new under the sun!

Also, as was wisely said, there is nothing new under the sun. And as humans, our desire to create and recreate is core to who we are. A little child lifts her eyes up to the sky and instinctively grabs a pencil and paper to re-create what she saw. And when she does not have papers and crayons, she finds a loose stick and stones, gets on her knees, and re-creates what she saw above on the ground.
Amazingly, this natural inclination stays with us as we advance in years. We draw and build homes. We imagine and design objects that can transport us to faraway lands. And we reinvent hairstyles and dresses we saw on others – often adding a twist to make it our own.

Wired to meet Needs.

Our tendency to solve problems and fill vacuums is how we build anticipation for a better tomorrow. And upon this, we build businesses. We design and sell a bicycle for our neighbors to take their kids to school (start-up). Or we modify a medical vehicle to enable a nurse to do scans in patients’ homes (portfolio diversification). Sometimes, we hop on a plane and head to a new country to forge new alliances and deliver customized products (market expansion). Our natural inclination to explore, create and meet our needs and the needs of others propels innovation. And innovation is born of imagination and exploration and realized through successful implementation. 

During my sabbatical, I saw a great example of meeting a need in a young man in Central Africa. The man was a recruiter and worked for a recruiting firm. After working with the company for some time, he assessed that the company’s offerings were insufficient. And many customers’ needs were unmet. He shared his ideas for improvement. But his efforts to drive change were not received, therefore, he decided to explore a new path. Specifically, he connected with a tech professional in the United States and struck a deal to provide job search and placement services. 

Thinking along a new dimension

Many of us are familiar with job placement agencies. But this gentleman’s firm is not your typical scouting agency. Because he takes a unique approach. He assumes the role of the applicant until the job interview. – This includes understanding the applicant’s background, customizing their recruiting materials (i.e., resume, cover letter, etc.), researching and identifying viable opportunities, and the pièce de resistance – connecting virtually with potential hiring managers – as the candidate. And he does so from across the globe!

Scary and cool! Huh? Now I can hear someone saying: Umm… not so cool! It sounds like the candidate is paying someone to “substitute” them! How can one be confident that such a person has the drive and passion for the job? They did not “pound the pavement” themselves!

If you felt this way, I have no interest in changing your perspective. However, I would encourage you to consider this: This situation exemplifies a generational difference between Gen Z and Gen X. This gentleman is a part of Gen Z. – He and his peers view this as a beneficial model because it saves time and allows the customer to focus their energy on the aspect where they provide the most value – the interviews! Also, ironically, this model is possible because of technology that Gen Zer’s were introduced to at birth – literally! Sound machines put them to sleep, Alexa sang their first nursery rhyme, and Siri taught them the ABCs. 😊

What human need does the idea meet?

Whether you find the idea above cool, scary, or just strange, it’s worth remembering that unless an idea meets a need, it is just a thought. And, before we do the hard work of vitalizing an idea, a helpful question is: What specific need(s) does the idea satisfy?
Throughout my career, I saw the benefit of asking this question, especially when products or services were created and released, only to be shelved shortly after the launch. Sound familiar??

Notably, in addition to timesaving, a pivotal need that this recruitment professional meets via his approach is a familiar one. – Managing emotions and Handling rejection.
How so? You might ask!
Rejection is an unwelcome guest. And one area where it shows up is at the door of employment! – A candidate applies for a job and gets turned down. Sometimes, he is turned down on the interview day. At other times, he just doesn’t hear back – ever! And he wonders if his application was ever seen. Often, this can lead to feelings of shame and self-doubt. Because all of us hate to get rejected, and we all experience rejection. 

Herein, lies a crucial need that this gentleman’s approach meets. – It spares the applicant from the sting of rejection early in the process. Of course, at some point, the candidate hears about the companies that did not “call them back.” However, at that point, the news becomes a process update. – An agenda item in a 15-minute call followed by a discussion about the next steps. And about how to create a desired future.

Perpetuating the Cycle of Creation

During my sabbatical, my discussion with this young professional was a highlight! And I was inspired to see a young man see a need, develop a solution, and seize an opportunity.
Also, I should add that he recently got engaged! And from what I learned about him, his aspiration to start and have a family of his own motivates his professional pursuits.
And this is how the cycle of creation lives on!

As you enjoy the beautiful spring days, I hope you explore and allow your imagination to enable you to meet a need.

For you and to you,



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