REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE CO-CREATION CONFERENCE, THEMED: CATALYST FOR INNOVATION, ORGANISED BY VENIA BUSINESS HUB, IN LAGOS, ON THURSDAY, JULY 26, 2018.
**Here is a link to the life coverage of his full speech.
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
***We are no longer looking at the age of the lone wolf for the isolated inventor, but collaborative innovation where ideas are shared, developed and refined collaboratively.
***In this age of knowledge economy, it is co-working and co-creation that will define the way we work, progress and our output.
I am delighted to be among young Nigerians who have taken a risk to invest in providing co-working spaces to spur innovation, ideas and work that will disrupt our collective lives and experiences.
Kola Oyeneyin’s foresight and grit, as one of the pioneers of this growing, important economic and commercial phenomenon, has demonstrated the sort of drive that I’m sure many across the room have, but which is so important in the way our future as a nation and commercial community will be defined.
I have had the opportunity to collaborate with Kola on several other issues, and I am extremely pleased to say that he is someone who sees things through. I have also had the opportunity to collaborate with a few of the entrepreneurs here, especially those who have set up co-working spaces, I am very happy to say that they are individuals who would ensure that this is not just a flash in the pan, but it continues as the phenomenon that it is.
I want to emphasize that this is an economic and social phenomenon, and I say that carefully. The most profound idea of the industrial revolution was probably the concept of Division of Labour. I am sure practically all of us are familiar with that concept.
The expression was first used by Adam Smith in his classic – “The Wealth of Nations.” Smith was convinced that the quality and quantity of work carried out by any workforce, organized along the principles of the division of labour, was infinitely superior to work done by non-divided labour .
He said famously: “The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is anywhere directed, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour.”
What Adam Smith was saying was that division of labour was the greatest phenomenon in the industrial revolution, and that it led to the most efficient work and quantum leap in terms of progress.
If the division of labour defined the productive genius of the industrial revolution and since then the concept of co-working must be the defining idea of work, where and how we work in the knowledge economy, and indeed the fourth industrial revolution. The point I am making is that, in the 19th and 20th century, the division of labour was what defined progress and that whole revolution. In this age of knowledge economy, it is co-working and co-creation that will define the way we work, progress and our output.
But let us first understand that the deconstruction of the conventional work environment, important as it is, is the least profound of the implications of co-working. In order words, the mere fact that we are sharing working space is the least profound of the effects of co-working and co-creation.
The most significant dimension is in the redefinition of how creativity and innovation are birthed. It is no longer the lone wolf or the isolated inventor. Creativity before now was someone inventing something; even a couple of years down the road, the likes of Bill Gates were still lone wolves, working from their garages and same as even Mark Zuckerberg. But they were working in an environment which was changing very quickly, and which they have also changed very quickly.
We are no longer looking at the age of the lone wolf for the isolated inventor, but collaborative innovation where ideas are shared, developed and refined collaboratively.
So co-creation is also the process by which groups of people from across boundaries, come together with a shared purpose, to create value through improving or developing services and products. It is by far, the game-changing idea of the knowledge economy. It is bound to fundamentally affect how we work.
The work spaces will be liberating not restrictive, allowing for flexibility, not just in working hours, but in modes that we work. But more importantly, it will allow for collaboration, co-innovation, and co-value creation. It emphasizes the power in the interdependence and cross-pollination of ideas, not as an inadvertent occurrence, not as a mistake, but as a currency, as a way of creating, marketing and selling value.
We must prepare for the creative disruption of this phenomenon. It will redefine how we teach in our schools, how the student learns and to some extent, the content of learning in schools.
The truth of the matter is, the knowledge economy is bound to change everything, co-working is bound to change everything, how we learn and work. The way we taught in schools before now, was by individual competition, “I will be better than the next person”, in a classroom full of twenty students. But the classrooms of the future will be classrooms where collaboration is the key, where people and young students will be working together, to achieves objectives and ideas. This is already playing out in the way that curricula are defined in various parts of the world today.
As a teacher, I am completely fascinated by the new way of thinking because I taught for many years, as a law teacher. I recognize that the law teacher would walk into a classroom, would talk about the principles of law, and hope that the students would learn those principles and at some point, apply them.
But that is going to change. The law teacher today will have to deal with the concept of co-creation even in applied work such as law. Such that individuals will be working together to develop solutions to problems, teamwork would define the way the principles are applied. So rather than a person cramping and learning the principles, hoping that he would be able to apply it himself, he is going to be looking at how to deal with concepts such as blockchain technology, for example. How do you reason around that? It is no longer linear, no one can think linear anymore. You cannot think just as an individual, it has got to be teamwork to achieve those same objectives, and it is going to redefine everything. You are not going to find the lone wolf lawyer in his law office, because everything is changing with co-working.
Without dramatizing it, I think it is fair to say that we are in the midst of historic change. We are participants, as well as witnesses, to a shift probably of greater consequence than Adam Smith’s division of labour.
The great difference is also its greatest strength; the power of working together not as a process on a production line, but each person in his own space physically and mentally, but depending on the other or on others, in real time, across continents to create value. That is the new age we are working in.
So as we sit here today, we might as well imagine that all that we are, are people creating a new way of working, possibly just working together in spaces that are defining a different way. But the truth of the matter is that we are participating in historic change, not just in the way that we work, but in the way that we will work in the future, and that future as already arrived at our doorstep.
The good thing about participants in history is that we hardly ever know until the time is past, and then we will look back and say, “we were all part of that process.”
I want to encourage you by saying that what you are doing is an incredibly important thing, I think the more ideas we are able to bring about by thinking collaboratively and working together, the greater we are not just as individuals, but as a group.
Nobody is going to ever remember individual efforts anymore, it is going to be about collaborating and working together in unity.
Thank you very much.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President