It is crisis. We live in a time of uncertainty where heavy cuts and substantial financial aid packages are needed to fight the global economic recession. The first signs of recovery are visible, but there is still a long way to go. 'Reforms' is the key word, because that is the way to improve socio-economic equality. But how do you do that? President Obama already made his ‘call for creativity’. Not a strange thing, because new ideas may point the way to another, more sustainable society.
The concept ‘creativity’ is used in all kinds of ways, but what does it really mean? There are different interpretations, but in the EFQM Model 2013 is creativity defined as: The generation of ideas for new or improved products, services, processes, systems or social interactions. Creativity lies at the heart of change, but is not synonymous with the realisation of change. Within EFQM we talk about innovation in that case, defined as: The practical translation of ideas into new products, services, processes, systems or social interactions.
The report Expect the Unexpected: Building business value in a changing world (KPMG, 2012), KPMG describes ten sustainability mega forces that will impact each and every business over the next 20 years. From population growth and deforestation to shortages in water, raw materials and energy resources: the dangers come from different sources. The primary purpose of this report is to create awareness. Actually, the entire report is a powerful call to action for innovation.
The Green Products department of multinational Philips has taken action already. Their premise: Philips strives to make the world healthier and more sustainable through innovation. In 2012 Philips invested 569 million euro’s in Green Innovation, and until 2015 this amount will increase to 2 billion euro’s. Most of it is invested in LED lighting. In line with its EcoVision 2015, Phillips is also active in reducing their ecological footprint: with a strong emphasis on large-scale energy-savings projects, reducing the number of kilometres travelled and using renewable energy. The large-scale production and sales of LED bulbs contributes in a positive way to a sustainable planet. But this is also financially interesting, because Green Products achieved a turnover of no less than 11.3 billion (!) euro’s in 2012. So, there you have it: sustainability and business do not conflict, but reinforce each other.
Without creative ideas a sustainable planet will remain a utopia. A sustainable planet will not arise from only innovating of our products, services, processes or business models. Sustainable innovations that lead to a sustainable planet will need more than incremental improvement, it needs a fundamentally different way of thinking. Innovation starts with us. And this we must be aware of, or as Albert Einstein said: No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.
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