Let’s be conscious of why it is we’re here today talking about the subject of Challenge Driven Innovation and not any other type of innovation… The language of ‘challenge’ is now pervasive Whether this be the challenge of a small scale business trying to find a niche within which to operate in a crowded market, or a large business facing competition from emerging markets or at a governmental level trying to tackle the challenge of a changing climate, we are framing ourendeavours as challenges.. are facing, across the world, and to varying levels of degree severe social, economic and environmental challenges.
At the same time we see an accelerated growth in a culture of collaboration; this has been rising for some years now and is being accelerated by the adoption and exploitation of collaborative and networked technologies (institutionalising trust and co-ordination etc) Things are tending toward the open, the democratisation of systems and practices. The propensity and willingness to collaborate is intensifying
Then of course we have innovation. And innovation processes, practices and methods have been around for a long time, innovation process itself is being re-imagined and evolved alongside these two wider trends. We are going from closed to open innovation. We are moving away from protectionist strategies for business innovation to open, collaborative innovation that sources ideas from beyond organisational boundaries; increasingly beyond sector boundaries.
Now there is a long history of challenges driving innovation. This is John Harrison who won the famous Longditude Prize in 1714 – an open call for people to solve the challenge of being able to navigate the seas accurately. The solving of this challenge (for which John Harrison was awarded $2m dollars in todays money) enabled the greater flow of trade and communications across the planet.
But many of our most serious challenges cannot be framed in this way. Our challenges are no longer so clear cut; like John F Kennedy’s inspiring and unfaltering commitment to putting a man on the moon But today, our challenges much more complex, much more important It’s less about climbing and conquering mountains and moons, it’s more like wading into a very messy and dirty swamp of indeterminable depth and trying to navigate a path through. This necessity to immerse ourselves in complex challenges has the effect of questioning our identity and challenging our ego – as people, and as corporate and governmental bodies. We can’t solve problems alone.
So what I want to talk about briefly today is run through some business innovation trends that speak to this narrative. Then to look at how those trends are mirrored in the public and social realm And to express my interest in exploring the connection between the two, and touch on how system innovation can be useful here as an organizing principleYou will see that this is quite a lot to pack in… so keep with me…
So starting with how businesses are now opening up more and more to their customers. We’re seeing more and more examples of corporate organisations asking their customers to help them solve problems. This follows a general pattern of opening up a call for ideas, mobilizing an online community to either view or assess ideas, prototyping the best ones and offering cash rewards for a small handful of people with good ideas. This is of course a good strategic marketing exercise, or as in the examples here a way of expressing a commitment to Corporate responsibility. Generally, it seems to be surfacing some interesting ideas; but the relationship is still quite clearly customer and organisation
Of course some customers are more useful than others.Passionate, engaged communities that you find in the car design community, are interested in co-producing products, such as the Open Source car seen hereThis ideas of distributed production, of the future bending towards business models that are about blue print and design, rather than the production of things. Charlie Leadbeater talks about a future economy that will place value on the recipe for the cake, not the cake itself – but that’s a whole other presentation! Crowdfunding in its many and various forms is also proving most successful when it mobilises passionate communities – as seen here with the Bike Academy in the UK – crowd-funding a social enterprise into existence.
Crowdfunding has also been successful as the equivalent of a pre-sales tool – where opening up your product innovation on a crowd funding platform like Kickstarter, Indegogo can be useful for smaller start-ups unable to access the capital through traditional sources necessary to go into extensive product development and production.Nesta very recently published a report into how the UK’s business’s charities, government and financial system can make the most of crowdfunding.
Moving away from sourcing ideas from customers, we see that open Innovation is gaining a foothold. And the premise of Open Innovation can be distilled to the idea that organisations can and should use external as well as internal ideas; that innovation can be outsourced and that very different organisations can come together to share some of the risks and rewards of innovating. Nesta have supported a number of new processes to do this, working with the Discovery Channel – who opened up their lifestyle research data to a number of diverse, non competitive brands with similar interests. They were brought together in a facilitated space, bringing their diverse perspectives and challenges together to develop new ideas, products and joint ventures. Virgin Atlantic, were brought together by Nesta with a number of users, social media software develops to hack about with new ideas for services that supported the travel experience.Often in these processes used a trusted intermediary to facilitate the relationship and ensure that IP is protected Companies like P&G, Orange and Unilever, just a few organisations who have successfully implemented ways of creating innovation airlocks whereby some of the traditional challenges of large corporates and inventors working together - chiefly challenges associated with IP - have been overcome through the use of trusted intermediaries, processes that protect everyone Open Innovation works very well of course when there is a very clearly defined challenge, that the outcome is known – alongside a healthy level of ambivalence about how you get to that outcome. Leaving room for imagination and innovation.
Another relevant trend, I think is Jugaad is a Hindu work that means work-around, it’s good enough innovation. It’s a work around, which has to be used because of a lack of resources. This framing as ‘scarcity’ as a prompt for innovation is very powerful – and one I’d argue we will be increasingly forced to adopt. And the example here shows the result of General Electrics’ engineers being set quite a formidable challenge. Which was to take a 15lb electrocardiograph machined and squeeze that same technology into a portable device that could be carried with one hand. The challenge was met not by returning to the Lab but by adopting and adapting existing technologies, for example the machines printer is an adaptation of one used in bus terminal kiosks and the cost of delivering an ECG fell to 50 rupees per patient. Around 1 dollar. And could be undertaken in the tiniest village. No need to be near a big hospital. The public health benefits are immense and clear as well as making some sound business sense for General Electric.
Meanwhile………….if we look at how challenge is being framed within public and social realm we see a whole heap of interesting things that align to the same narrative of challenge driven innovation. We are seeing development of lots of platforms for challenges. Kaggle is an arena where you can match your data science skills against a global cadre of experts in statistics, many of those challenges have a social or public health benefit. Challenge.gov and Simple challenges and Shaped By Us – exploring how the government and the public can share challenges and forge solutions together or Nesta’s very own centre for Challenge Prizes. These are platforms and initiatives that set challenges, solicit ideas and reward people and organisations who meet those challenges. And just in the same way that business has that spectrum on engagement, of framing a challenge and soliciting ideas from customers - through to actively partnering and entering into joint ventures….
….So too do we see in the public and social realm, that same spectrum – of government and local councils engaging people in generating ideas, stimulating a bit more democratic engagement and then in some cases taking that further, bringing the public into by degrees… and this is where we begin to see more and more experimentation with decision making, co-design and co-production of public services. i.e. people going from being passive consumers to being an active part of the solution. This is an area of work that Nesta has invested a great deal of time and research in exploring. In no small part due to the funding cuts to our public services that we have experienced, and will continue to experience. But also, and as importantly, because many of our more complex social and environmental challenges (safeguarding children, adult social care, creating sustainable communities, cannot be solved simply by a a government policy, in the same way that one technological invention or by encouraging behavior change. They are solved by working on all of these things together and more; this places an innovation demand and action from across the public, social and private realm.That requires some expansive thinking
We need to ask ourselves….. Do we understant the system well enough? Where do you stick the pins?
Through Nesta’s Centre for Challenge prizes we have launched the Ageing Well Challenge. Today there are 10,000 people aged 100 or over. By 2050 there will be 275,000. And 8 million people will be over the age of 80. 50% of the adult population over 50. There is very stark research that cites high numbers of older people often or always lonely. Loneliness and isolation is very sad; and no-one would want it for their elderly relatives. It also means isolated people in much poorer health than their contemporaries who have much more active social lives.So this challenge will award prizes for the best ideas to reduce isolation and loneliness for older people. But of course, while we have framed a very explicit challenge here, actually change needs to happen on a range of dimensions
So if we take the challenge of ageing being a system challengeSystems thinking means being explicit about the multidimensional nature of change.And it’s about recognising the connections between change in different domains.So New technologies, products and services which meet demand in new ways; (nesta’s impact investing fund) and support self-management and build social fabric in how services are delivered (more orchestration of support from friends, neighbours, families and professionals) Recalibrated markets to enabled by new funding tools that are truly outcome-oriented. Markets that cover formal care but also creating informal care and support networks; use of personal health budgets etc New policies and regulations, greater coherence across the public health and social care agendas. Recognising social as well as biomedical factors when policy making Behavioural change among people and also professionals. Shift from older people being purely defined by their needs to the skills, experience and strengths of older people are recognised – taking an asset-based approach.
So in the context of all that… and to return to the overarching theme of this conference:I believe a functioning and enlightened business environment is one that is capable of being adaptive and responsive, where innovation is a dynamic process used to create change at a system level That embraces a willingness to redraw boundaries; and allow those boundaries – at times - to be permeable that has the ability to hold attention both to the economic and business needs of now, and the overwhelming needs of tomorrow – and take an unflinching gaze and the paradoxes that may bring
Challenge Driven InnovationHelen Goulden5th March 2013
Challenge • Costs of long term health conditions Societal • Ageing population • Depletion of natural resources Environmental • Changing climate • Cuts to public funding Economic • Financial crisis & Unemployment • Competition from emerging markets
Next 15 Minutes• Business Innovation trends• Public & Social Innovation trends• System innovation as an organising principle when addressing complex challenges
Customer Crowdsourcing Reward Open Call Prototype The for Ideas the best Winners• Strategic Marketing• Corporate Responsibility Engagement• Product development “Help us reduce packaging” “Help us mitigate climate change”
Opening up Public & Social Challenges Greater Stimulating Involvement in Co-Production Engagement Decisions e.g. Participatory e.g. Co-delivery ofCrowdsourcing ideas public services with BudgetingWidening perspectives service users User centred design Alongside mechanisms with explicit focus on Challenge/ desired outcomes: # Social Impact Bonds # Outcomes Based Commissioning # Payment by Results # Forward Commitment Procurement
System Challenge: Ageing Promote self- Services that build management social fabric New technologies, products and servicesOutcome-oriented Funding tools Recalibrated Ageing New policies Recognition of markets and regulations social as well Population as biomedicalMarkets that cover factorscreating informal care networks Behaviour Change People & Asset-Based Professionals approach
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