How can businesses find solutions for a set of issues far broader than their profit to loss ratio?
The world is changing—rapidly. With the reality of climate disruption, social pressures and financial instability, businesses must find solutions for a set of issues far broader than their profit to loss ratio.
They must innovate to navigate uncharted shocks to supply, to meet the broader needs and demands of increasingly consciously-minded consumers and employees, and to address the challenges of a constantly warming planet.
This entails shifting from being solely profit-driven to integrating purpose-driven motivations, prioritising a far wider pool of stakeholders, and cultivating regenerative leadership and mindsets throughout the workforce.
Regenerative innovation is a transformational tool for startups and businesses. Here is how it works.
Begin the process with impact in mind.
The shift from ‘traditional’ to regenerative innovation in business will encourage innovators to adopt entirely new approaches to organisational change. These approaches should normalise that change and innovation is only successful when it benefits the broader network and ecosystems within which the business operates—it cannot only benefit the financial growth of the business itself.
Adopting this mindset is key for creating innovations that matter and have the chance to survive upcoming global challenges and contribute to paving the way towards a liveable world.
To do this, innovators should embrace three interlinking principles of regeneration in every decision.
Collaborate within the system. More people and ecosystems benefit from a business when more stakeholders are considered, especially those outside of the ‘boardroom’. The value created goes beyond financial value - a business should strongly consider how their activities are affecting their wider network of stakeholders - the best way to ensure your business activities are doing good is by collaborating with the wider network. Regenerative innovation is designed to embrace collaborative solutions over competitive or hierarchical ones and businesses should stir this innovation towards strengthening network relationships and creating common value between actors of an ecosystem.
Prioritise wellbeing. In a regenerative future, businesses operate with the understanding that human health equals to planet health, and focus on restoring the balance for both systems. Regenerative innovation prioritises human and planetary wellbeing over financial profit. On the human level, employees’ wellbeing should be seen as imperative to a flourishing business. Regenerative businesses employ innovative and inclusive approaches to governance and leadership that allow employees to act as leaders and support that thriving employees leads to thriving business. Beyond that, regenerative businesses acknowledge our reliance on the environment and use innovation as a tool to restore natural systems and address current challenges faced, like climate change, biodiversity loss, and all related negative consequences of those.
Apply “acorn-thinking” The concept of acorn-thinking leans on the indigenous ‘Seventh Generation’ principle. An acorn seed planted today will grow into a thriving tree that provides oxygen, shade, and food to people seven generations later. Similarly, innovations created today will impact future lives. Therefore, regenerative businesses should consider future generations as stakeholders in decision making and in innovation processes.
Reference: BMW Foundation RESPOND, Circle Economy, SYSTEMIQ (2022).