Conscious Innovation is a combination of emerging, interconnected fields that aim to promote long-term thinking, personal transformation, creative problem-solving, and considerate collaboration to tackle thorny challenges.
But what makes Conscious Innovation so timely and who benefits from this innovative way of thinking?
First of all, Conscious Innovation is an approach that combines Futures-Thinking and Systems-Thinking with an emphasis on ethical considerations, social responsibility, and importantly our capacity to listen to each other generatively and think independently.
This approach seeks to create solutions that are not only effective but also responsible, ensuring that the benefits and impacts are fairly distributed among all stakeholders. It ticks many boxes!
On paper, it looks great.
In practice, I believe that what you will find at the core of Conscious Innovation is a combination of elements that make it magic.
Conscious Innovation involves:
- A Thinking Environment: Using a philosophy of communication that ignites independent thinking. Based on the work of Nancy Kline, the Thinking Environment is a series of practical values-based applications steeped in one observation: “The quality of everything we do depends on the quality of the thinking we do first”. And one question: “What does it take for people to help each other to think well for themselves?
- Empathy and Compassion: Discerning, understanding and considering the needs, values, and perspectives of all stakeholders involved in a problem or a system, not just people present in the room.
- Responsible Design: Applying ethical principles to the design and implementation of strategies and solutions, ensuring that they promote equity, justice, sustainability, care and well-being.
- Mindful Evaluation: Assessing the impacts of insights (or solutions!) both intended and unintended, on people, and communities (current and future). Involving diverse and various groups in this evaluation.
So who benefits from Conscious Innovation and how?
Forward-Thinking Business Leaders & Investors
Many business leaders are realizing the importance of adopting long-term, sustainable strategies for their organisation’s growth and the impact they seek to have on their clients/customers and wider communities.
Conscious Innovation allows them to develop solutions addressing social and environmental issues while remaining profitable and efficient. They are able to make well-informed decisions, considering potential scenarios and avoiding unforeseen risks. They identify interdependencies and make better decisions considering the bigger picture.
For instance: Accepting that scenarios that might look absurd on paper could very well happen, and force businesses to change, is essential to plan for a strategic pivot. Businesses that had anticipated a possible global pandemic (as announced by The Institute for the Future for instance and other thought leaders) were prepared to adapt and navigate a lockdown and the change of their customer’s purchasing priorities.
Academics and Researchers
Academics and researchers across various disciplines are increasingly interested in these concepts because they offer new perspectives on traditional problem-solving.
Conscious Innovation is of particular interest to social scientists, as it promotes equality, sustainability, and responsible use of a wide range of technologies. The approach enables the exploration of alternative societal trajectories and their possible impact on ecosystems.
This can have an impact on funding partnerships, innovation lab themes and focuses, and interdisciplinary creations.
Government Agencies and Policymakers
As they are creating laws and regulations that can affect society’s future, government agencies and policymakers make use of Conscious Innovation to create policies and initiatives that foster sustainable development, leveraging technology responsibly, and involving citizens in the decision-making process.
They explore multiple scenarios, examining the interdependencies between different policies, sectors, and stakeholders, and identify the best policies based on possible outcomes.
Eg: The UK GOV encourages civil servants to make use of Futures-Thinking to think through scenarios. Fostering a culture of listening contributes to making public services more relevant.
Government Agencies or ministers that don’t promote a generative listening culture run the risk of being out of scope and wasting taxpayers’ money.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Activists
When addressing complex social, environmental, cultural and/or technological issues, NGOs and activists need to envision the future and its complexity. Conscious Innovation helps them devise effective strategies and advocate for preferred futures based on their core values.
Because Conscious Innovation is an approach based on equality and appreciation of differences, NGOs and Activists discover new ways of partnering with governments, businesses, and local communities, to foster scalability and a positive impact. The process of listening generatively to all assumptions also enables them to decide if a partnership is definitely NOT the way forward…)
Importantly, it is an approach that we use to diffuse internal conflicts and miscommunications, especially with dispersed and diverse teams, in a context of underfunding, societal risks and threats to democracies.
Individuals Seeking Personal Growth and Change
Conscious Innovation fosters independent thinking and deep personal reflection. It is a valuable approach to improving rich decision-making skills in individuals and it encourages meaningful changes to one’s lifestyle.
We exist for ourselves, as ourselves and in a collective context. The inherent focus on self-awareness and the interconnection of society – in its current and possible future state – enables individuals to develop a stronger sense of social responsibility and ethical action.
I hope you can see how Conscious Innovation is attractive to a wide range of individuals and groups, reshaping how problems are approached and solutions are developed.
By embracing it, we can grow respectful collaborations and activate strategies for a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future.
I look forward to convening with you and your group and listening to you!
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