Innovation with a social impact: Noddy in the country of strategy?

Are we starting to suff ocate in this troubled, volatile and very hostile world? Are you sick of the word “agile” and yet are constantly being called upon to march in the front lines, fight back and disrupt your market, so you’re out of breath and still not understanding that these disruptions are often destructive (to jobs, among other things)? In other words, the rule of thumb of getting rubber-stamped in the face, of competition in full swing. Even for you, it often hurts and is rarely a pleasure. I call this “doing things like before”.

Here’s a question: who do you admire most? The guy in your year who bet big and then grabbed everything in his super competitive market? Or that person who took on a societal problem, tackled it head-on and conceived of a business model that solved it? The latter is hipster prattle, you say? From microfinance to Sesame Street, we’re talking about markets involving billions, not just sweet dreamers! The much talked about disruption is at the origin of only half of new markets, while the other half comes from strategic creation, with new value chains, with an impact that supercedes the bottom line: if your company is earning money and still doing things “like before”, you’ll inspire your shareholders. If you aim to have an impact on the world with an original idea, you’ll inspire your whole ecosystem of stakeholders. The brilliant Kim & Mauborgne are often called naïve — gentle thinkers of a Noddy kind of strategy that might work in fantasyland but that “cannot be applied to our industry, nor our world”—and it’s true, what they’re proposing is impossible…until the day that someone does it. To discover innovation that makes sense, reject Porter’s theories and keep sailing in the Blue Ocean.

Learn more: “Business as a Force for Good: A Blue Ocean Perspective”, by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, (INSEAD Knowledge, 2018)