Innovation is all about friction between people.
In conversation with Jelle Nijdam
Counsellor for Science and Technology, at Dutch Embassy in India, Jelle Nijdam (49) drives a Tata Nano. An orange one, representing the national color of The Netherlands. Having spent two years in India, he compares it to The Netherlands of the 60s' having a mature youth with strong opinions fighting for rights in a true democracy. A social transformation he is enjoying being a witness to. He joined the Dutch government in 1997 to help implement policies in the field of science and technology. He is passionate about following the latest innovations. A passion that naturally drives him towards people. Interacting and communicating with them, he hopes to bring people of both countries together enabling them to bring out their best.
Taking from both cultures and creating something new
Innovation is all about friction between people. When pulled out of ones' comfort zone and made to search for something new due to a lack of something, one will innovate. Under pressure, people automatically open up to new ideas. However, innovation requires the ability to take risks, something which in India, is part of daily life. Here, they call it 'Jugaad'. Innovation arising out of necessity. Innovation arising out of the bare minimum, as resources are scarce. When you innovate you can also fail but you must have the guts to try first. Innovation in the West has become a technical term for organized thinking. The west can learn from India, but for that they must learn again the feeling of 'not having'. Jelle is a firm believer of Jugaad. He totally enjoys bringing people from The Netherlands and India together, mixing cultures and creating something new.
Bringing people together
Jelle has never desired a lot of money and hence quitting his job as a consultant and joining the government was an easy choice to make. In fact, he enjoys this far more as it provides an opportunity to be of service to one's country. His job enables him to open up frontiers. The grey unexplored areas while balancing innovation and politics. He feels it is a game of trust and with the right partners and trust in place, innovation is automatic. There is an interesting bridge between the experts of the two countries and a common need for innovation and his job is to connect people on both sides.
Jelle's vision
Jelle has a team of expats and local professionals. His vision is to align them from a knowledge perspective. The challenge is that when the expats leave after every few years, how does one successfully transfer the knowledge held by that person to the more permanent local employees. And how can the local professionals bring the new expats on page immediately. He is focused on this now. When he leaves India, he wants to ensure he leaves behind a self-sufficient team with the ability to bring future expats on page with the innovation game in India. It is a mix of being able to understand things in context, take on tasks and responsibilities and enjoy the feeling of working independently. People in India hesitate in making decisions. They need to do that, even if the decisions are wrong. Only then can they gain confidence and understand their own strengths and weaknesses. Slowly and steadily he is making his team move towards this goal he has in mind. Talk about people, innovation and change and Jelle is your man!
May 2015