Panel: Sustainability-Driven Corporate Innovation
A corporation’s organizational framework must facilitate and encourage employee innovation and risk-taking. Frequently, integral decision making must occur at lower employee levels where people have the greatest information on products, markets, customer feedback and relationships. It is critical that innovation across employee levels is encouraged and supported, but how can a corporation ensure innovation and more importantly, sustainable innovation? How do companies internalize a culture and process to ensure consistent innovation? GE’s ‘Ecomagination’ initiative to double global revenue from environmental products by 2012 has radically shifted public attention from the company’s reputation as an environmental laggard to a new role as an eco-innovator. Other companies such as Pfizer (green chemistry) and Toyota (hybrid technology) claim growing markets for their products among both consumers and businesses. Arthur D. Little’s recent report, The Innovation High Ground, finds that as many as 95% of companies believe that such ‘sustainability-driven innovation’ has the potential to deliver business value and almost 25% believe it definitely will. Where are sustainability-driven innovators headed and what can other companies learn from them?
- Ron Gonen is Co-Founder and CEO of RecycleBank, an innovative business that encourages recycling and diverts waste from landfills and incinerators.
- Rick Steele is Co-Founder and CEO of NuRide, the nation’s first ride network that rewards people for sharing rides.
- Michael Gresty is President of Kinetix [business ecology]