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The business culture needs to support innovation incentives

The business culture needs to support innovation incentives

By Rikus Grobler – I am on the topic of how to incentivize innovative behaviour in organisations. In the previous article it was highlighted that this is not such a straightforward matter as one might think and that it is imperative that organisations must first create an environment, or a culture, that fosters innovation, before just going the “cash for ideas” route. Hence, in this article, I want to look at the link between organisational culture and incentives for innovation, and also share some ideas on how to encourage innovative behaviour through other means than monetary rewards

Incentivizing Innovation

So the premise is that an incentivizing mechanism on its own doesn’t do much good. It must be a part of a broader innovation program which includes training, management and rewards and recognition.

You will notice that I use the terms rewards and recognition, so what is the difference then? In my view, recognition applies to the emotional side of being incentivized for good performance, and reward refers to something tangible that is offered as incentive, i.e. money or a prize. However, I also view these two concepts as being intertwined – when you give a reward, it’s because you are recognizing someone’s effort. When you are being recognized – there is some action that is taking place in order for this to happen. That action is the giving of the reward. Employees who receive rewards and recognition get satisfaction from both.

There is a lot of psychological theory in terms of types of rewards, e.g. intrinsic or extrinsic rewards, tangible or intangible rewards, etc. There is merit in these distinctions and it is certainly true that financial rewards drive some people to exceptional performance, whereas a simple “thank you” can make other people run through brick walls for their organisations. It is not the purpose of this column to go in depth into psychology, and I am not saying you have to be a psychologist to figure out and incentive scheme for driving innovation in your organisation, but it is a good approach to have a proper understanding of what motivate your employees in the context of your organisation’s culture, and align incentives for innovation accordingly.

Asking a couple of in-depth questions, doing a bit of research or employing an expert, will not hurt in figuring this out. So let me list two ways of incentivizing innovation through other means than monetary awards, which I found very helpful, as proposed by Kevin Daum from Inc Magazine.

Help them learn. Smart, ambitious people need mental stimulation. If they feel stagnant they will get distracted and perhaps search for another company that is mentally stimulating. They want to be challenged, and exposed to new ideas. Give your innovators the first opportunity to access training materials, try their hand at new techniques, and practice advanced skills.

Say thank you. Achievers thrive not only on their accomplishments, but also want to feel appreciated for what they contribute. Anyone who shows improvement, solves a problem, or exceeds a target is justifiably proud of what they have accomplished. They want to know that you are proud, too, and that you appreciate their effort. Public recognition through awards and acknowledgement helps them understand they are valued on the team. It is easy to send a brief thank you email or make mention at a weekly meeting with a personal comment on their accomplishment and why it matters. A public awards wall with noticeable achievements rewards those who excel and motivates those who are looking to be recognized.

Next Time

I trust that the last two articles shed some light on the topic of incentivizing innovation. It is different for each organisation, granted, but there are basic principles that can be applied that will increase the chances of motivating the desired behaviours for innovation. Also, try to keep it simple and straightforward.

It has been a while since I touched on the topic of creating the right culture for innovation in the organisation, the topic for next time. I conclude with a quote from Abraham Lincoln: “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition”.

Daum, K. 2014. 5 Ways to Reward Great Employees Besides Money. Online:

About the author Rikus Grobler

After a career of over a decade in the manufacturing and IT industries, Rikus established a specialist business and management consulting firm, Namibia Innovation Solutions, in Windhoek in 2010. He has an MBA and also holds degrees in Engineering and Law. He is also a certified Project Management Institute (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP) and he is currently pursuing a Ph D degree on innovation. His passion is corporate innovation, a field in which he has consulted for some of the major organisations in Namibia.
You can e-mail him at or visit his website at

About The Author

Rikus Grobler

Dr Rikus Grobler is a Namibian academic, inventor, entrepreneur, public speaker, and management consultant who specialises in the development of the innovation capability of companies and individuals. He holds degrees in Engineering and Law, and has an MBA and a PhD in Business Administration. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and he has also completed studies in design thinking and patenting. He has engaged leading Namibian organisations such as The Capricorn Group, Agra, Old Mutual Namibia, The Bank of Namibia, City of Windhoek, The Government of Namibia, Afrox Namibia, and Hollard Namibia. An experienced professional with a background in manufacturing, information technology, tertiary education and financial services, Dr Grobler has been involved in innovation management for the past 10 years and currently holds the position of Manager: Innovation for the Capricorn Group in Namibia. He is particularly interested in creativity, innovation and invention, and his mission is to provide performance-enhancing innovation management services that enable organisations and individuals to fully exploit their creative potential to reach their goals.

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.