It’s not uncommon for the words Innovation and Sustainability to be used as associated topics. We’ve heard it said before: sustainability depends on innovation, but this blind hope that innovation will save us is not how we will succeed. For innovation to work the dependence is flipped. Real success relies on a business embracing sustainability, making it the map for innovation.
When we envision innovation, it’s easy to conjure images of groundbreaking products that defy convention. However, innovation is more than a flashy new idea; it’s a transformative approach to problem-solving. Successful innovation isn’t confined to consumer needs; it extends its tendrils to operational enhancements, supply chain revolutions, and the creation of entirely new markets. The essence of innovation lies in purpose, understanding, and empathy.
What is sustainability?
Put simply, sustainability is operating in a way that ensures future generations will have the same (or better) means to live. How is that relevant to business? Well, they are not separate entities; they are intrinsically connected. The dictionary definition of sustainability comes in here: ‘the ability to maintain continued activity’ isn’t possible if you destroy your market. So, how do you not just survive but truly thrive?
True sustainability has to be at the centre of the business. Not a component of it. Your mission should be directly linked to the future and making it better. From here it flows naturally. The entire business will understand what you’re trying to do and call out if you are not. It creates not just accountability but a sustainable insightfulness that resonates throughout the entire organisation.
Back to the flipped dependency.
Innovation is dependent on sustainability When sustainability is the core of your business, innovation becomes the natural byproduct. Understanding problems and acknowledging your role in them opens doors to opportunities. It’s not about superficial sustainability metrics; it’s about understanding impacts and innovating to negate the negatives while amplifying the positives.
So how can you innovate sustainably?
Make Sustainability Your Purpose
If sustainability isn’t ingrained in everything you do, you aren’t truly sustainable. Advocate internally until every individual is a champion of sustainability. With a collective sustainable mindset, everyone comprehends the mission.
With the entire team on board, delve into understanding your impacts. Identify areas for improvement and transformation. Knowing the problem lays the foundation for crafting solutions.
Yes it took a couple of steps but here we are. Armed with purpose and understanding, innovation is the natural progression. While not every innovation may revolve around sustainability, the solutions will inherently be grounded in it, thanks to the work you’ve done with purpose and understanding.
Regularly check in on impact and innovation initiatives. Ensure they align with your mission, address the intended problems, and be open to iteration.
Innovation might save us all, but without the direction of sustainability, it’s unlikely. Foster a culture of sustainability and purpose within your business and watch innovation flourish from a deeper understanding and a clear direction, ensuring the sustainability of your business for generations to come. We’re not just talking business; we’re talking legacy. Let’s make it count!