The time for innovation as a "linear" process is over

The time for innovation as a "linear" process is over

Overcoming the classic dichotomy between "science push" and "market push" modernization, it is now essential to think "outside the box"

Ten thousand containers are lost every year, contributing to the pollution of the sea
Ten thousand containers are lost every year, contributing to the pollution of the sea

Addressing functional challenges al achieving sustainable development, accelerating the "greening" of businesses and handling the climate crisis will require much more physical and intellectual effort than simply banning fossil fuels and giving up our dependence on them.
In addition to effective and transparent governance, and the creation of companies that put people and the planet at the centre, we also need great scientific discoveries and out-of-the-box thinking, literally "out of the box", if we want to develop sources energy alternatives, empty the carbon 'bathtub', clean up our oceans, overhaul the planet's infrastructure and ensure a just transition of global labor markets.

Humankind has made some incredible progress, but the key to achieving these goals is the idea of ​​abandoning linear approaches to innovation and, at the same time, adopting a different way of thinking, one that embraces the concept that the processes of modernization are always messy and interconnected with each other.
Innovation, in other words, should be understood as a sort of domino effect of changes that are part of a complex web, not as a straight line across the page of our evolution.
Traditional ways of thinking about innovation are based on what is known as "science push" (the idea that scientific research results in new discoveries that lead to innovative products or processes) or "market pull" (the idea that changes in market demands act as a catalyst for the allocation of resources in a specific area of ​​innovation).
These factors are indeed important, but accepting a new way of thinking about innovation recognizes that it must be part of a wider system, of an overall ecosystem, if it is to be more in line with the business world and more in phase with sustainable development.

Innovation is not to oppose technical and humanistic culture

Innovation should be understood as a domino effect of changes that are part of a complex network
Innovation should be understood as a domino effect of changes that are part of a complex network

A "delayed blowout" lesson from aluminum containers

Consider, for example, aluminum containers, an innovative solution that obviated the chaotic system of loading and unloading bulk goods on ships and in docks.
Technologically durable and of standardized shape and size, shipping containers are easily moved with a crane and can be tracked with computerized systems.
However, if “containerization” has increased the speed and reduced the costs of international trade for both suppliers and consumers, it has also generated a series of knock-on effects that cannot be ignored.
Economic growth has led to a continuous increase in the demand and supply of consumer goods, resulting in the production of millions of chemically coated aluminum containers that reach the end of their life after only ten years (twenty or thirty if reused).
In 2012 they estimated that there are more than 20 million shipping containers worldwide. And about ten thousand are lost at sea every year.

Containerization has also radically and permanently changed the character of many port cities around the world, displacing thousands of seafarers – the unexpected and unpredictable results of the diffusion of innovation, some argue.
However, we must work to see these "unpredictable" and "inevitable" outcomes as predictable in order to overcome them, of course before they emerge.
Thinking "in systems" can help in this task. A systems approach to innovation recognizes the intricate web of connections and the ecological and economic knock-on effects of any form of modernisation.
These innovation systems should be transnationally cooperative, but also localized, culturally sensitive, ecologically focused and systematically engaged, if they are to be successful.
A linear, “one size fits all” approach to innovation is simply not and never is the right answer…

The country with the greatest capacity for innovation is Switzerland

The Houston Express is a cargo ship of the German company Hapag-Lloyd of Hamburg, completed in 2005: it is capable of carrying up to 8.400 containers at a time

The Houston Express is a cargo ship of the German company Hapag-Lloyd of Hamburg, completed in 2005: it is capable of carrying up to 8.400 containers at a time