Why sustainability is today the main driver of innovation

  In general terms, when talking about ‘sustainable innovation’ the intention is to define those processes that bring together multiple facets so that they do not only refer to research and direct improvement on the environment, but to all those processes in which the media participate. of production, the improvement of the conditions of the […]


In general terms, when talking about ‘sustainable innovation’ the intention is to define those processes that bring together multiple facets so that they do not only refer to research and direct improvement on the environment, but to all those processes in which the media participate. of production, the improvement of the conditions of the workers, passing through the industrial design, the commercialisation or the treatment with the clients.

And from here, the debate between the experts of the sector opens: Is it a passing fad or an adequate concept to define how things are or how they should?

Experts indicate that the term “sustainable” has become a recent trend that accompanies any current issue and even more worrying, in the specific case of innovation the sustainable adjective is being added to processes that, in reality, are not. The name innovation for sustainability, for example, is an integral concept that goes beyond the environmental approach, and also considers the economic, social, political and institutional level of the companies.

This link between innovation and sustainability is right from the point of view of corporate social responsibility strategies. There is a strategic purpose that involves significant areas of resources, processes, relationships with interest groups and change management. This is actually what we might consider the so-called virtuous circle of responsible innovation, which starts from the innovative responsibility and achieve responsible innovation.

Specialised studies that the innovation potential is still very close to traditional sectors while there are great possibilities and market niches in emerging sectors as well as new sources of employment. The results of the study only show that most companies are only a in moderately innovative economy when it is precisely essential to consolidate in all agents the idea that innovation and competitiveness are two concepts strongly linked and essential for economic growth.

Here at Applied Innovation we have a team of professionals with a unique combination of leadership and experience to prepare your people to adapt to change.

Why is the innovation-sustainability link so important?

There is no alternative to sustainable development. Even so, many companies are convinced that any effort to adopt environmentally friendly methods will undermine their competitiveness by increasing their costs without generating immediate financial benefits.

The concern arises quickly in the conversations with heads of company, mainly of the United States or Europe: according to them, the sustainability and the development of “green” products puts them in disadvantage in front of their rivals of the developing countries that are not submitted at the same pressures. Suppliers lack the capacity to supply green inputs or ensure transparency; Sustainable manufacturing requires new equipment and processes and, during a recession, the consumer is not willing to pay more for organic products. Hence, most executives consider the need to be sustainable as a social responsibility that is at odds with business objectives.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the struggle to save the planet has become a pitched battle between governments and companies, between them and consumer advocates, and sometimes between them and governments.

Legislation and education are necessary, but not enough to solve the problem quickly or completely. It’s like moving on a tricycle with two wheels that turn forward and the third one backwards. One solution, defended by experts and environmental activists, is to impose ever stricter regulations. In his opinion, it is unlikely that the voluntary action is sufficient. Another group argues that it is necessary to educate and organize consumers to force companies to adopt sustainability.

The main issue with executives

Executives act as if they have to choose between developing products and sustainable processes that provide fundamentally social benefits and the financial cost that implies. But it’s not like that. Having studied for a time the sustainability initiatives of 30 large companies, our research shows that sustainability is a mother lode of good organisational practices and high profitability. Companies that decide to protect the environment reduce costs by rationalising the use of inputs. In addition, this process allows to improve products that generate more income and create new businesses. Since these are precisely the objectives of any business innovation, we saw that smart companies consider sustainability as a new frontier of innovation.

In fact, the search for sustainability is already beginning to transform the landscape of competition, which will force companies to change their way of thinking about products, technologies, processes and business models.

The key to progress, especially in times of economic crisis, is innovation. In the same way that some cyber companies survived the Internet bubble crisis in 2000, resisting traditional operators, sustainable companies will be strengthened from this recession. When considering sustainability as a current objective, the pioneers will be equipped with skills that their rivals will have to match without delay. Then, the consequent competitive advantage will be very useful, since sustainability will always be part of the development.

It will not be easy. Our study shows that companies that take this path go through five stages of change and that each of them poses different difficulties, which requires them to develop new capabilities to overcome them. Tracing meticulously the path of this process will allow them to gain time, which could be decisive, because the time is sounding.

The five stages of the change towards sustainability

  1. Accept sustainability as an opportunity
  2. Make value chains sustainable
  3. Design eco-compatible products and services
  4. Create new business models
  5. Create next-generation practice platforms where customers and suppliers learn to manage energy in totally different ways.

It’s obvious importance of promoting public-private cooperation through actions and agreements to ensure that projects generate tangible results and get to join the productive sector and urged all the public present, architects, designers, businessmen and officials to build a sustainable future.

Nowadays, there is a fast pace for changing in the structure, relationships and processes in the work environments of every business. With our superior change management courses, Applied Innovation is ready to help your organisation adapt to the inevitable changes it’ll be changing.