Posts Tagged ‘innovation’
CSR Research Digest – March 2013
MIT Sloan Management Review covers in its Sustainability & Innovation study how organizations have responded to the sustainability challenge. The survey covers more than 2,631 executives, managers and thought leaders from around the world and from a wide range of industries.
- Sustainability is paying off for a growing number of companies that are utilizing innovation to “translate sustainability opportunities and pressures into business value.
- Nearly 50 percent of companies have changed their business models as a result of sustainability opportunities.
- Two-thirds of the respondents said that “innovation advantage – identifying better solutions early” is the way to profit from sustainability.
- Sixty-one percent of companies that have changed their business model and have sustainability as a permanent fixture on their management agenda say they have added profit for sustainability.
- While 52 percent of the respondents said intangible benefits is where they see profit from sustainability, almost half of the survey respondents admitted they find it difficult to quantify the intangible effect of sustainability.
- Even after all the talking about the sustainability-related challenges – from resource scarcity to climate change, the number one benefit to organizations in addressing sustainability is improved brand reputation (40 percent).
MIT Sloan Management Review
Social Research Digest – February 2013
This report details the opportunities available for new bio-based energy sources, transport fuels, or chemicals. The focus of the report is on the UK and is launched to coincide with the opening of the UK’s largest showcase of industrial biotechnology in London.
- Potential breakthroughs in industrial biotech in the UK could witness is to become a £12bn industry by 2012, however, a lack of investment and active opposition to genetically modified (GM) must be addressed if the sector is to reach its full potential.
- By 2015 the global market for technologies across industry, agriculture, forestry, healthcare, and manufacturing could be anywhere between £150bn and £360bn.
- Given the UK’s strong record in science and innovation and Europe’s leading position in development of biotechnology and feedstocks, its share could encompass £4bn to £12bn of this.
- The UK needs to establish a framework to support industrial biotech that is beyond focusing on biofuels.
- Unlike the UK, the US spends nearly 10 times more on biotech research and development
- A problem facing biotech firms that aim to produce fuel and food is the polemic associated with such technologies such as the activists arguing energy crops crowd out agricultural production and can cross-pollinate with food crops.
- The report sets out a template for corporations working in the sector to build trust, tips on delivering and promoting environmental benefits.
- The Industrial biotech industry is a young industry and a part of overcoming barriers is to ensure it meets highest possible sustainability standards.
Forum for the Future
Social Research Digest – February 2013
This report aims to uncover how business interacts with key social and environmental issues. The report highlights what is succeeding in the health sector and shares case studies of business solutions for wellness and prevention, systems innovation, disease management, and market mechanisms.
- Based on illustrative case studies it can be concluded that business generates excellent ideas and solutions for health and wellness challenges
- Businesses are motivated to innovate and create products and service to meeting the challenging climate of health and wellness.
- The impact of business on health and wellness innovation is diverse and robust.
- The health sector is embedded with business solutions that have achieved:
- better disease management;
- reliable organ transplants;
- precision in surgery;
- innovations in prosthetics and other medical equipment;
- more knowledge and insight into good fitness and nutrition habits.
- There are various illustrative case studies that spotlight business solutions for wellness and prevention, systems innovation, disease management, and market mechanism. Case studies include:
- A prevention program at Accenture that combines work-life balance, wellness solutions, and health benefits into one portfolio to provide employees a comprehensive menu of health programs.
- GlaxoSmithKline designing a medicine adherence program to develop an in depth understanding of patient needs.
- Medtronic’s commitment to increasing patient access to appropriate healthcare, which in effect increase availability of its life-enhancing therapies globally to patients who could benefit.
- Based on the aforementioned case studies and others, business develops excellent ideas and solutions to health and wellness challenges.
U.S Chamber of Commerce Foundation/ Business Civic Leadership Center
CSR Research Digest – August 2012
Disrupt & Delight is the latest in BBMG’s ongoing booklet series designed to share insights and takeaways to help organizations win market share and create real change. The guide draws on the firm’s experience embedding sustainability in organizations large and small, and also includes the best practices of leaders such as Nike, Patagonia and Unilever.
- Generations are shifting, new technologies are democratizing and consumers across the globe increasingly want better solutions rather than more stuff.
- Against this backdrop, a new generation of brands is poised to create smarter, safer, greener and more accessible products and services that do much more with much less.
- The booklet outlines and cites examples of BBMG’s five principles for sustainable brand innovation:
- Start With What’s Sacred—a philosophy about winning, uniting and listening to like-minded devotees who can bring big ideas to scale;
- Design Holistically—drawing inspiration from the genius of nature and the knowledge that all products exist within larger, complex social and environmental ecosystems;
- Create Collaboratively—a tactic that’s similar to crowdsourcing but infinitely more strategic, curated and focused;
- Be Playful in order to move beyond what’s expected and incentivize what’s possible; and
- Disrupt and Delight by using the constraints of sustainability to inspire the creation of high-performing, game-changing products and solutions.
By Dr Wayne Visser
Margaret Mead once said, ‘The only person who likes change is a wet baby’, to which Hunter Lovins added ‘and the baby squalls all the way through the process.’ So change is never easy, especially on the big issues of sustainability. In thinking about this, I have found Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher’s Formula for Change rather useful: D x V x F > R. This means that three factors must be present for meaningful organisational change to take place. These factors are:
D = Dissatisfaction with how things are now;
V = Vision of what is possible; and
F = First, concrete steps that can be taken towards the vision.
If the product of these three factors is greater than R (Resistance), then change is possible. I have seen sustainability change efforts fail for all four reasons. Deep-seated resistance often exists because the benefits of the status quo to those in power are considerable. Sustainability initiatives, especially if they are integrated into the core business, are often seen as extra burden. For instance, an operations manager of a plant really doesn’t want the extra hassle of collecting emissions data for a sustainability report, or subjecting his staff and facilities to an audit.
Most often, I think, the dissatisfaction that we may feel with the state of the world or the company’s actions really isn’t widely shared enough. Jonathon Porritt, author of Capitalism as if the World Matters, after many years in the sustainability game (he started the UK’s Green Party and chaired the government’s Sustainable Development Commission among other things), told me: ‘Looking at people all over the world today, rich and poor world, they are not remotely close to a state of mind that would call for anything revolutionary. There’s no vast upheaval of people across the world saying, “This system is completely and utterly flawed and must be overturned and we must move towards a different system.” There isn’t even that, let alone an identification of what the other system would look like.’
Likewise, on creating a compelling vision, Porritt concludes that ‘we have not collectively articulated what this better world looks like – the areas in which it would offer such fantastic improvements in terms of people’s quality of life, the opportunities they would have, a chance to live in totally different ways to the way we live now. We haven’t done that. Collectively we’ve not made the alternative to this paradigm, this paradigm in progress, work emotionally and physically, in terms of economic excitement. We’ve just not done it.’ Taking first steps is something companies are generally much better at, especially picking the so-called ‘low hanging fruit’. But the reason these steps so often don’t get beyond the pilot or peripheral stage is because the other two factors – dissatisfaction and vision – are not strong enough.
Another way to think of change in a structured way is Peter Senge’s concept of the learning organisation, popularised in his book, The Fifth Discipline. He described the five interrelated disciplines as follows: ‘Systems thinking [the fifth discipline] needs the disciplines of building shared vision, mental models, and personal mastery to realise its potential. Building shared vision fosters a commitment to the long term. Mental models focus on the openness needed to unearth shortcomings in our present ways of seeing the world. Team learning develops the skills of groups of people to look for the larger picture that lies beyond individual perspectives. And personal mastery fosters the personal motivation to continually learn how our actions affect our world.’
In a follow-up book, Learning for Sustainability, Senge, together with co-authors from the Society for Organisational Learning, apply the fifth discipline model to sustainability. In particular, they emphasise connecting the inner and outer work that needs to be done: ‘Connecting the inner changes in how we manage and lead with the outer effects our organisations have on larger systems; connecting the inner changes in mental models and personal visions with the outer changes in management culture; and connecting the inner changes in who we are as human beings with how we act and interact.’
In seeking to create change for sustainability, Senge and his colleagues once again emphasise the interconnected nature of all change processes, and the critical role of business: ‘There has never before been a time when the social, ecological and economic conditions that challenge political leaders in any one part of the world have been so interwoven with what is occurring in so many other places. This phenomenon has arisen through the ever-growing web of interconnectedness spun by institutions, especially multinational corporations. Collectively, these organisations determine what technologies are created and how they are applied around the world: which markets develop and which are largely ignored. These institutions determine who benefits from the world economy and who does not.’
Given the interconnectedness, the key to change, believes Senge, is collaboration. To illustrate his point at an MIT Sustainability Summit 2010, Senge asked the question: What would it take to get rid of disposable cups? Who would have to work together to eliminate disposable cups? The answers suggested include everyone from Starbucks and its competitors to paper manufacturers, food service providers, recyclers and municipal governments. To make real headway on really tough sustainability issues is a ‘massive undertaking in collaboration’. What’s more, the parties that need to collaborate often aren’t naturally inclined to.
Senge concludes that a good guy/bad guy mentality can be a barrier to such collaboration. ‘You’ve got to wake up and say “We’re all part of the system”. You know who is causing the destruction of species? You and me. You know who’s causing the huge waste problems around the world? You and me.’ Once you become more open-minded to this possibility, then you can look for collaborative solutions. ‘Look for small steps of things you can do together with people with whom you traditionally would never have cooperated — and do something useful, no matter how small.’
CSR Research Digest – February 2012
WBCSD has launched a step-by-step guide to help businesses accelerate sustainable growth in their value chains. The report features case studies from 10 leading companies demonstrating how sustainable value chains can create competitive advantage for business.
- Over the next few decades, businesses will face many challenges related to the environmental sustainability of their value chains (i.e. the full life cycle of a product or service).
- These challenges will be faced whether it’s meeting new environmental regulations, securing enough water, energy or other resources for their daily operations, or managing the needs and expectations of their stakeholders.
- The report explores five critical success factors to implementing a sustainable value chain:
- (1) leveraging the power of collaboration;
- (2) understanding customer and consumer needs, and proactively encouraging them to make new choices;
- (3) identifying “hot spots” to focus on the changes that will have the greatest impact;
- (4) ensuring healthy supply/demand in order to reach economies of scale; and
- (5) committing to the initiative.
- The report was developed under the leadership of WBCSD member companies Unilever and The Coca-Cola Company.
- Featured case studies are from Solvay, Umicore, AkzoNobel, Philips, Henkel, Procter & Gamble, TNT, The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever, Sompo Japan Insurance and SABIC.
By Dr. Wayne Visser
Quest for CSR 2.0 Series No.7
One of the key theories on creativity is creative destruction. The concept is most associated with Joseph Schumpeter, following his 1942 bookCapitalism, Socialism and Democracy, in which he described creative destruction as ‘the process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one … [The process] must be seen in its role in the perennial gale of creative destruction; it cannot be understood on the hypothesis that there is a perennial lull.’
The idea, of course, is much older. In Hinduism, the goddess Shiva is simultaneously the creator and destroyer of worlds. In modern times, the German sociologist Werner Sombart described the process in 1913, saying ‘from destruction a new spirit of creation arises; the scarcity of wood and the needs of everyday life … forced the discovery or invention of substitutes for wood, forced the use of coal for heating, forced the invention of coke for the production of iron.’ Even Marx and Engels had a go at describing the process in their Communist Manifesto, stating that ‘constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. … All that is solid melts into air.’
The idea of melting solids is very similar to the metaphor used by sustainability and social enterprise thought-leader, John Elkington, to explain the disruptive changes going on in the world. In an interview with him, he explained: “What happens in an earthquake? The land become thixotropic; what was solid suddenly becomes almost semi-liquid. I think we are headed towards a period where the global economy goes into a sort of thixotropic state. Key parts of our economies and societies are on a doomed path really, and I think that’s unavoidable. I think we’re heading into a period of creative destruction on a scale that really we haven’t seen for a very long time, and there are all sorts of factors that feed into it—the entry of the Chinese and Indians into the global market, quite apart from things like climate change and new technology.”
As to what this means for business, Elkington believes that “all of these pressures are going to mobilise a set of dynamics which are unpredictable and profoundly disruptive to incumbent companies, so some companies will disappear. I think most companies that we currently know will not be around in 15 – 20 years, which is almost an inconceivable statement. But periodically this happens and there’s a radical bleeding of the landscape. We’ll find this sort of reassembly going on. Over a period of time we’re going to have some fairly different products, technologies, business models coming back into the West, and I think it’s going to be quite exciting, but quite disruptive.”
We see all kinds of examples of creative destruction in corporate sustainability and responsibility. For virtually the whole of the 20th century, the biggest companies in the world were the oil and motor giants – companies like Exxon, BP, General Motors and Toyota. But the 21st century, with growing concerns over energy security and climate change on the one hand and the rising geo-political and economic power of the East on the other, are ushering in a new era. Already in 2006, the richest man in China was reported to be Shi Shengrong, CEO of the solar company Suntech, and the richest women, Zhang Yin, made her fortune from recycling. A 2010 report published by the Pew Environmental Center found that in 2009, China invested $34.6 billion in the clean energy economy, while the United States only invested $18.6 billion.
This explosive growth was brought home to me when, at an event of the Women In Sustainability Action (WISA) in Shanghai where I was speaking in June 2010, I got talking to a supplier of wind turbines to Europe. Simply put, he cannot keep up with the demand. He is turning customers away because there is already 12 months of orders in the pipeline. Even Germany, an early leader in the clean-technology space, can no longer compete with China in this sunrise industry. It is no coincidence that while Obama’s energy reform bill was being scuppered by the U.S. Congress, Malaysia was creating an Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry. And while the British company BP was virtually on its knees, in May 2010, the Korean company, Samsung, unveiled an eye-watering investment plan to ‘future-proof’ the company by sinking $21 billion into its green technology and healthcare businesses. It claimed the investment would generate $44 billion in annual sales and 45,000 new jobs by 2020.
Make no mistake – creative destruction is happening. The only question is which companies will survive the sustainability and responsibility purge and surge?
Welcome to this international dialogue, Quest for CSR 2.0, with Dr Wayne Visser, pioneering author, academic and social entrepreneur. The dialogue, hosted by CSRwire Talkback, is based on his groundbreaking book, The Age of Responsibility: CSR 2.0 and the New DNA of Business. For the next several weeks, Dr Visser will summarize the main points and key lessons of each chapter of his book, exploring why CSR 1.0 has failed, the 5 Ages and Stages of CSR, the 5 Principles of CSR 2.0 and how to make change happen. Readers will be invited to share their views on each posting. This exciting new series is co-published by CSRwire and CSR International.