Eight Innovation Drivers for our Innovating Future

by Paul Hobcraft

Eight Innovation Drivers for our Innovating FutureIn two short posts I have extracted a couple of strands of thought from a fairly detailed report, examining innovation’s future. Hopefully both strands of thought about innovation’s future might provide us some pauses in our thinking.  Of where innovation might be heading and the consequences and implications for what this might mean for each of us. This is the second post.

The future has many questions to resolve

There are many future paths we can take through innovation to seek out growth, to create future wealth. Many of the forces we are seeing today are those that will shape the long-term future of innovation. Yet there is going to be increasing tensions different than the ones we are discussing today

There are increasing questions of the saturation points of our current approaches to consumption, of the present difficulties we have in tackling pressing societal issues. Managing within so many numerous societal challenges can have either a negative or positive effect on how we value innovation. Do we want innovation to generate worthwhile innovation that truly is beneficial to society or does it stay caught up in commercial purpose alone. Can innovation present for us all, fresh opportunities to seize?

A Foresight Project on Innovation

A report, undertaken between 2009 and 2112 and covering 144 pages, has been co-ordinating views on innovation and its possible future direction. This was funded by the EU FP7 on a foresight project on the future of innovation (INFU). It can be explored under the web page www.innovation-futures.org

Are these the influential drivers of our future evolution within innovation?

So what are the drivers that will emerge as the most decisive influences on the future evolution of the innovation process?

Of course this future landscape will be shaped by individuals, society, organizations, the eventual economics, and by policy but these final eight drivers for innovation seem to be emerging according to the findings within the report.

The report regards these eight drivers as the ‘nodes of change’

Deliberative Innovation

It seems widely expected that citizens will play a greater role both in governing and implementing innovation activities. How will the new type of “deliberative innovation” be governed, what will be the outcomes?

Innocamp Society

Innovation Camps where people gather for specific innovation tasks of certain duration are becoming increasingly popular. Many experts see a high potential for such camps as key enablers of creative solutions both in a business and civil society environment. Often the idea is linked to the open source society where a number of products and services are developed in close interaction among users source society where a number of products and services are developed in close interaction among users

Social Experimentation

Social innovation is becoming more recognised as highly relevant for developing innovative solutions addressing societal challenges. New modes of innovation are required to align social and technological innovation activities. Participatory experimentation will play a key role but what are the right instruments and levels required for successful solutions?

Automatized Innovation

A number of new techniques such as semantic web analysis allow for automatizing parts of the innovation process from idea generation via design and testing. What are the implications for economy and society?

Widespread Innovation

Innovation is becoming mandatory for more and more people in companies and other types of organisations. How can we avoid “innovation overload” and “innovation divide”? What does it mean to live in an environment that is constantly innovating?

Open Innovation City

Cities are increasingly expected to play a major role as innovation drivers. In particular systemic sustainability innovations may best be implemented on a city level. What are adequate mechanisms for cities to reap the benefits of this potential?

Global Innovation Chain Integration

Innovation is expected to become globally dispersed. But what will be the mechanisms to integrate all the distributed and diverse elements and to match ideas and solutions with problems and needs?

Waste-Based Innovation

The establishment of innovation patterns that are fully consistent with a circular flow of resources was unanimously assessed as top priority in the INFU experts’ dialogue. However, many challenges are associated with this vision. How can novelties emerge out of used products, what kind of consumer types are associated with the pattern?

My final thoughts

Of course there are many future directions innovation can take. Today innovation is clearly “top of mind” to seek out growth, to create future wealth, with many of the forces we are seeing today as those that will shape the long-term future of innovation.

The whole question of consumption, conspicuous or otherwise, can each have negative effects on generating worthwhile innovation that is truly beneficial to society. There are many unintended and undesirable consequences that get largely brushed aside today in our ‘profitable’ pursuits.

Often good transforming innovation gets sacrificed on the positive hype surrounding innovation for its profit motive. Are we going to see increasing ambivalence, more of these mixed emotions as surely much of our current innovation remains misdirected and purely profit motivated?

Will the pace of innovation slow down or continue to speed up? Who and what will decide this?

image credit: autoweek.com

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  1. Will innovation slow down or speed up? Who or what will decide this?

    First identify the cause – the third communications revolution
    (the first two were writing and printing).

    Now every economically active person can communicate with every other worldwide.

    That means:
    1. Everyone has access to knowledge – there are no gateways or media any more. The “Knowledge is Power” people have no traction or powerbase. It will take time to dismantle their empire but down they will come.

    2. Sharing of ideas is now easy. You can collaborate with experts in your field all over the globe in real-time and speed development from years to hours. That also changes thinking – a “viral” idea can span the globe in a few hours and a whole country can change mindset over a few weeks.

    3. Customers at last have a voice. In an environment where companies could talk to customers and customers couldn’t talk back, they grew increasingly out of touch. Those companies will fail, replaced by Tribes of customers and the companies who supply them.

    We are probably less than 1% into this new environment and its effects will be as wideranging as writing, which spawned the Egyptian, Greek and Roman empires and printing, which brought down the church and ushered in the renaissance, creating the modern world.

    What can we do?

    We must put change at the heart of our companies.
    Move from Business Plan to Business Trajectory.
    Put in powerful listening systems to foresee and analyse the potential effects of events.
    Create agile methodologies to create new products, systems and customer engagement methods in days, not years.
    Anticipate and lead, rather than following.

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