Posts

Inspiring Next Purposeful Innovation

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has put innovation at the center stage of discussion across the world since 2015. We need an open mind and a suite of processes to develop, adapt, and apply digital technologies that are rapidly fusing with the physical reality. The global pandemic pushed everyone out of their comfort zone, providing a strong motivation to innovate. Every community scrambled to manage the health of the population, while trying to juggle the economic realities of social distancing. Creativity at home and innovation in the workplace witnessed enormous opportunities coming out of human survival instincts. The next few years will be an era for the innovator to bring a new normal to the world.

Structured Innovation is clearly the need of the hour. This brief article is synopsis of the first volume of a 4-Volume Book series on innovation, focused on Purpose (why). We will bring Portfolio (what), Profile, and mindset (how) in coming months.

Volume-1 Inspiring Next Innovation Purpose

Innovation and strategy are often mistakenly viewed as separate approaches, and I hear CEO’s saying “let’s get our strategy first, and then we will work on innovation.” That is as good a sign of an aging organization as any.  Leaders realize purposeful innovation ought to be the strategy, not just a keyword or an action item to support strategy. It is the way for an organization to be forward-looking and deliver true lasting value, besides financial responsibility and sustainability. Ray Stasieczko says, “Innovative organizations understand the importance of relevant products; while dying organization stay obsessed with selling the relevancy of their soon to be obsolete products.”

The purpose generally comes from the heart of the leadership, and it can be at various levels, broadly classified below:

Innovation Purpose

Financial Drive: Where the purpose is to provide enough sales and profit margins, to stay in business, and perhaps grow. I find this to be the lowest level of purpose, although mostly described, justified, and referred to under the context of Business decisions. I would prefer to call it merely an objective so you can exist for a larger purpose, … to create value in some form.

Technology Push (Industry 4.0): When the purpose is to successfully develop, leverage, enable, exploit the cyber-physical integration into process, product, service, or business application. It is OK to have a technology development as a defined purpose, but it makes a lot more sense to connect it with an impact on everyday living.

Social Pull (Society 5.0): When the purpose is to create a better life for human beings. This is the Japanese perspective and response to Germany’s Industry 4.0; Cyber-Physical-Human confluence to create a smart society. This is the onset of purposeful innovation and it now makes sense. Technology for the sake of technology or money only brings us halfway. Application for the benefit of humanity is where it ought to lead us.

Sustainability: This is where your purpose goes beyond humanity and addresses the sustainability of life on our planet for a long time to come. True sustainability requires a balance of economic, social, and environmental factors in equal harmony. Sustainable development is defined as ‘Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’

I submit that the purposeful innovation is the right way to go. The purpose around sustainable planet and smart society, through a balanced use of technology should be at the core of every business, community activity, and personal actions, while financial objectives are just a means to the end.  I also understand sustainability may not be your purpose. It is OK as long as it finds place in your strategy as a limitation or a constraint, and there is an appreciation of how your decisions might impact society of the planet.

If you are interested in learning more, please register for our webinar here.

If you wish to purchase our books, they are available on Amazon and Kindle worldwide; and all author royalties go towards ocean cleanup.

Learn more about InspiringNEXT Series

EZ Innovation 2 – Start with The Purpose

In the business world, startups are invariably innovative, emerging out of an entrepreneur’s purpose or passion. They scale up into a business with formal structure, which then slides into the abyss of financial objectives. Unfortunately, the purpose now gets buried under some ‘mission statement’ that very few employees understand. Most of them frequently walk past the mission statement on the wall to address their boss or customer’s immediate need. Innovation becomes an enabling tool with emphasis on speed and cost. The larger the organization, the deeper this abyss gets.

And then comes the annual cycle of updating the business strategy; supposed to guide the teams on how to compete successfully in the marketplace. New products, services, or new markets is one of those guidelines. Innovation and strategy are often mistakenly viewed as separate approaches, and I hear CEO’s saying “let’s get our strategy first, and then we will work on innovation.” That is as good a sign of an aging organization as any.

Purposeful Innovation is the Best Strategy.

It is not a keyword or an action item to support strategy. Purposeful innovation is the way for an organization to be forward-looking and deliver true lasting value, besides financial responsibility and sustainability. Ray Stasieczko says, “Innovative organizations understand the importance of relevant products; while dying organizations stay obsessed with selling the relevancy of their soon to be obsolete products.” Innovation is the most important factor in economic viability, technology adaption, social well-being, and sustainable development.

The purpose generally comes from the heart of the leadership, and it can be at various levels, broadly classified below:

Purposeful Innovation

Financial Drive (Exist and Thrive)

Where the purpose is to provide enough sales and profit margins, to stay in business, and perhaps grow. I find this to be the lowest level of purpose, although mostly described, justified, and referred to under the context of ‘business decisions’. I would prefer to call it merely an objective so you can exist for a larger purpose, … to create value in some form.

Technology Push or Industry 4.0

When the purpose is to successfully develop, leverage, enable, exploit the cyber-physical integration into process, product, service, or business application. It is OK to have a technology development as a defined purpose, but it makes a lot more sense to connect it with an impact on everyday living.

Social Pull or Society 5.0

When the purpose is to create a better life for human beings. This is the Japanese perspective and response to Germany’s Industry 4.0; Cyber-Physical-Human confluence to create a smart society. This is the onset of purposeful innovation and it now begins to make sense. Technology for the sake of technology or money only brings us halfway. Application for the benefit of humanity is where it ought to lead us.

Sustainability and Sustainable Development

This is where your purpose goes beyond humanity and addresses the sustainability of life on our planet for a long time to come. The focus includes protecting the environment and all of life; both on land and underwater. As of 2019, humanity is consuming 1.7 times what Earth is giving us, annually. Imagine, if your budget needs were 1.7 x Revenues.

Some Examples

Amazon Mission – To build a place where people can come to find and discover anything, they might want to buy online. Lead with 3 core ideas – Lots of choice, Fast delivery, Competitive pricing.

Apple Purpose – To empower creative exploration and self-expression.

Apple Mission – To bring the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.

David Packard’s speech to Hewlett Packard in 1960 – Purpose is like a guiding star on the horizon – forever pursued but never reached. Yet although purpose itself does not change; it does inspire change. The very fact that the purpose cannot be fully realized means that an organization can never stop stimulating change and progress.

Google Mission – Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible & useful.

Tesla Mission – Accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable transport energy.

Volvo Purpose – An Automobile is driven by people. Safety is and must be the basic principle in all design work. – Cofounders in 1939.

Let’s Summarize

Your purpose is your choice. I do not expect you to rewrite your purpose in terms of planet sustainability, but I do sincerely hope that whatever innovation purpose you may choose to pursue next, you are at least aware of its impact on sustainability, and will do whatever possible to conserve the only earth we have been blessed to live on. In other words, you would try to pursue responsible innovation.

Let’s Take a Selfie

# Up until now, my purpose has been _______________________,
whereas it could be__________________.

 

If you wish to learn more please read my book – “Inspiring Next Innovation Purpose” available on Amazon or visit Inspiring NEXT Series

How to Find the Path Forward?

The unprecedented, sudden changes wrought by the Covid-19 crisis have deep and wide implications across business and civil society.  Read more

Are you Innovating for Industry 4.0 or Society 5.0?

There is a lot of buzz around “Industry 4.0”; Read more