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What is and how to develop sustainable innovation?

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Today the terms sustainable development and sustainable innovation are often used. But what is meant by these terms, other than that they in some ways are connected to the terms “green” and “ecological” seen in a long term perspective? How, in turn, are sustainable innovations developed? Studying the literature on the topic leads to the conclusion that there is no precise or established definition of sustainable innovation, sustainability and sustainable development. A conclusion in the paper is that we now need to focus on how to develop new sustainable innovations, and for these, product development is the most important element. It has been found that Dynamic Product Development (DPD™) is a model that satisfies the different definitions on sustainability that have been proposed. The result of a product development project is based on the product developer’s knowledge, experience, and ability. The leadership of an entrepreneur (or intrapreneur) is also important for the level of sustainability of an innovation that is achieved. Therefore, the product developers and entrepreneurs need to be educated in a broader perspective than is common in the technical field today. The product developers must also be monitored in the actual work situation to ensure that new products that are not sustainable are not being marketed. This, in turn, calls for a similar, broader perspective in management education. To describe what a sustainable innovation is and how it is developed, the following definitions are proposed: a sustainable solution is a solution that has been developed to be a long –lasting, environmentally responsible solution for the provider (the business), the society and also the users; an innovation is a new solution that has been “sold” and is used by more than one user, or that is used in at least one use-situation; the innovation process, done as an innovation project, contains all of the stages from idea generation, development (R&D) and commercialization, to an implemented solution on the market.
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International Conference on Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ICLIE)
Dubai 20-22 April 2016
1
What is and how to develop sustainable innovation?
Stig Ottosson
1
, Anastasiia Moldavska
2
, Olga Ogorodnyk
3
, Torbjørn Skogsrød
4
ABSTRACT
Today the terms sustainable development and sustainable innovation are often used.
But what is meant by these terms, other than that they in some ways are connected to the terms
“green” and “ecological” seen in a long term perspective? How, in turn, are sustainable
innovations developed? Studying the literature on the topic leads to the conclusion that there
is no precise or established definition of sustainable innovation, sustainability and sustainable
development.
A conclusion in the paper is that we now need to focus on how to develop new
sustainable innovations, and for these, product development is the most important element. It
has been found that Dynamic Product Development (DPD™) is a model that satisfies the
different definitions on sustainability that have been proposed.
The result of a product development project is based on the product developer’s
knowledge, experience, and ability. The leadership of an entrepreneur (or intrapreneur) is also
important for the level of sustainability of an innovation that is achieved. Therefore, the product
developers and entrepreneurs need to be educated in a broader perspective than is common in
the technical field today. The product developers must also be monitored in the actual work
situation to ensure that new products that are not sustainable are not being marketed. This, in
turn, calls for a similar, broader perspective in management education.
To describe what a sustainable innovation is and how it is developed, the following
definitions are proposed: a sustainable solution is a solution that has been developed to be a
long lasting, environmentally responsible solution for the provider (the business), the society
and also the users; an innovation is a new solution that has been “sold” and is used by more
than one user, or that is used in at least one use-situation; the innovation process, done as an
innovation project, contains all of the stages from idea generation, development (R&D) and
commercialization, to an implemented solution on the market.
Keywords: Innovation; innovation process; innovation project; sustainability; sustainable
innovation.
1. INTRODUCTION
1
Stig Ottosson
NTNU in Gjøvik, Gjøvik, Norway
stig.ottosson@ntnu.no
2
Anastasiia Moldavska
NTNU in Gjøvik, Gjøvik, Norway
anastasiia.moldavska@ntnu.no
3
Olga Ogorodnyk
NTNU in Gjøvik, Gjøvik, Norway
olga.ogorodnyk@stud.ntnu.no
4
Torbjørn Skogsrød
NTNU in Gjøvik, Gjøvik, Norway
torbjorn.skogsrod@ntnu.no
International Conference on Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ICLIE)
Dubai 20-22 April 2016
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The terms sustainability, sustainable development, sustainable solutions, and
sustainable innovations are frequently used, for example, in marketing and sales situations.
These terms usually represent positive characteristics.
This paper discusses the background of the terms “sustainable” and innovation. The
focus is mainly on how to develop new products and services from the point-of-view of their
environmental impact ‘from the cradle to the grave.
2. THEORY
Today, “Sustainable Innovation includes two terms that are popular, but rather unclear.
Here, they will here be discussed individually, leading to solutions for carrying out sustainable
product development.
2.1. HISTORY OF “SUSTAINABILITY”
The popularity of the term "sustainable" started with the report, “Our Common Future”,
which was released in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development
(WCED). The commission was chaired by Mrs. Gro Harlem Brundtland, who served
previously as the Prime Minister of Norway for three periods. The Brundtland Report stated
that development only is sustainable if it “meets the needs of the present without compromising
the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment
Development, 1987). A popular simplifying picture, based on the Brundtland Report, is shown
in Figure 1. Note that there is no focus on how to develop sustainable solutions, but only depicts
what is wanted from the solutions.
Fig. 1 The Three Pillars of Sustainability (Figure from ("The Three Pillars of Sustainability,"))
In the years following the release of the Brundtland Report, many discussions arose on
what sustainable development is and how it can be applied in practice. For example, between
1995 and 2000, sustainable development was actively debated and attempts were made to
change the definition from the initial report. The key issue was that the term “sustainable
development” is not merely ambiguous, but essentially contested (Jacobs, 1995). In other
words, the term was not regarded to be clearly defined in a sense that it did not include several
internal concepts, and was also not interpreted in the same way by different individuals.
Further, in 1999, according to a definition proposed by (Elliott, 1999), sustainable
development was stated as being “fundamentally about reconciling the development and the
environmental resources on which society depends”.
In 1989, the non-profit organization, The Natural Step, was launched
(http://www.thenaturalstep.org). It proposed four sustainability principles, based on the
principles that in a sustainable society, nature shall not be subject to the systematic increase of:
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1. concentrations of substances from the earth’s crust (such as fossil CO2 and heavy
metals);
2. concentrations of substances produced by society (such as antibiotics and
endocrine disruptors);
3. degradation by physical means (such as deforestation and draining of groundwater
tables);
4. structural obstacles to people’s health, influence, competence, impartiality and
meaning.
The Natural Step also proposed a four-step procedure (A, B, C, and D) to accomplish
sustainable development (see Figure 2). Note that the model presents a strict business viewpoint
and that there is no guidance on how to develop sustainable products and solutions.
Fig. 2 The ABCD process The Natural Step has as guide line (Based on (The Natural Step))
Since1995, the concept of Dynamic Product Development - DPD™ has been and is
being developed (Ottosson, 1996). The ™ mark is only used to prevent the term to be misused
and its principles distorted. The term sustainable was not used in the early work in the
development of DPD™ but the focus was on how to develop new products in a responsible and
efficient way, which can be seen as satisfying the value “D in Figure 2. The core was a user-
centered design taking society’s demands as well as business demands into account in an
integrated way which was a bit controversial because the focus at that time was on “Design
for the Manufacture and Assembly” of products. In DPD, the three outer demands for the
product developers were (are) established as: satisfy performance, cost, and development
time set for each development project (see Figure 3).
Fig. 3 The DPD™ view of satisfying different demands in the development process (Ottosson, 2009)
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In 1999, the concept of sustainable development was articulated in other scientific
papers as “a discourse of ethics, which specifies human conduct with regard to good and evil”
(Acselrad, 1999). (Haughton, 1999) summarized the ideas of sustainable development in “five
principles based on equity: futurity inter-generational equity; social justice intra-
generational equity; transfrontier responsibility geographical equity; procedural equity
people treated openly and fairly; and interspecies equity importance of biodiversity”
(Haughton, 1999; Hopwood, Mellor, & O'Brien, 2005). These discussions led to the conclusion
that “the conceptual basis of sustainable development has been weak from the start” (Fischer
& Hajer, 1999).
In 2000, the state-of-the-art of the sustainable development process was summed up as:
“three elements to be sustained (Nature, Life Support, and Community) and three elements to
be developed (People, Economy and Society)” (Valentin & Spangenberg, 2000).
In 2001, “one of the few agreements within the sustainable development debate was
that there is no clear agreement on what the term means” (Chatterton & Style, 2001). Research
continued as the sustainability question became more and more important because of global
warming and calculations of fossil fuels reserves. Workshops were organized, but it was
concluded that sustainability is “laden with so many definitions that it risks plunging into
meaninglessness, at best, and becoming a catchphrase for demagogy, at worst” ( Workshop on
Urban Sustainability ds a Comprehensive Geographical Perspective on Urban Sustainability.
NJ: Rutgers University, 2001).
In 2002, the issue was to find a definition, not for whole countries or companies, but for
each citizen of the earth individually: “after all, its [sustainable development’s] main message
is that in thinking about environment and development issues, just as in thinking about one’s
own life, one must figure out how to live off interest and not capital” (Holliday, Schmidheiny,
& Watts, 2002). Even though this attempted to clarify the message, it did not explain how to
apply it to everyday life and which new laws to follow. As a result, (Luke, 2005) claimed that
“the sustainable development project is neither ‘sustainable’ nor ‘developmental’”. Such a
position is easy to understand, because if a concept cannot be clearly defined, how can it bring
any kind of sustainability or development to the world?
As a result, thoughts about the pluralism of the term started to appear. The UK
Government, for example, in its sustainable development strategy, defines sustainable
development as the simple idea of ensuring a better quality of life for everyone, now and for
generations to come” (Defra, 2005). At the same time, attempts to make the concept universal
continued: “sustainable development is a human-centred view of the inter-relations between
environmental and socio-economic issues” (Hopwood et al., 2005). Figure 4 shows how Social,
Environmental, and Economic dimensions in 2005 were seen to be related to each other.
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Fig. 4 Key dimensions of measuring sustainable development based on (Stevens, 2005) (The illustration is from ("The Three Pillars
of Sustainability,"))
In 2007, one view was that: “rather than focus on searching for a definitive meaning of
sustainable development . . . it is necessary to recognize the multiplicity of sustainabilities”
(Rocha, Searcy, & Karapetrovic, 2007). To some extent, this was happening because the
majority of definitions were far from being the same. For example, (Harding, 2006) had stated
that “the triple bottom line refers to satisfaction of not just the long recognized bottom line of
meeting economic goals (profits) but also the need to meet environmental and social goals (or
bottom lines) simultaneously in carrying out business”. At the same time, (Gibson, 2006) had
summarized general requirements of sustainable development as: “social and ecological
integrity; opportunity; equity; efficiency and throughput reduction; democracy and civility;
precaution and adaptation; and immediate and long-term integration” (Gibson, 2006; Rocha et
al., 2007). As is seen from the last definition, some of attempts to explain the term brought even
more confusion than clarity to the concept of sustainable development.
In addition, some scientists, instead of simplifying the problem and dividing it into
manageable parts, where adding new questions. “Analytically, the debates over the meaning of
the term can be seen as revolving around three general questions: is sustainable development
about integrating environmental considerations into the economic development process or is it
about a development process of a different quality; is sustainable development fundamentally
a political, legal, economic or an environmental/ecological concept; is the concept inherently
conflicting and what is the nature of the contradiction?” (Jensen, 2007). Others, were solving
the problem with a rather simple answer “sustainable development does not consume
resources. It uses and re-uses them, endlessly” (Orecchini, 2007). From such a point-of-view,
it is possible to conclude that the (only) aim of sustainable development is to increase the use
of renewable energy sources and to have a strong recycling and reusing policy.
In 2008, (Skowroński, 2008) wrote that “what the sustainable development concept has
to offer is a qualitatively new form of aware and responsible life at the level of the individual
and of society”. (Jabareen, 2008) commented on that “On one hand, ‘sustainability’ is seen as
a characteristic of a process or state that can be maintained indefinitely. On the other hand,
however, development is environmental modification, which requires deep intervention in
nature and exhausts natural resources”.
In 2008, (Mark, 2008) proposed that "Sustainable development includes all business
and community planning and operating decisions with due consideration for: (1) people
employees, customers, shareholders, community residents, or anyone that is involved or
affected; (2) planetmaterial and energy resource management that does not hurt the
environment; and (3) profitsor economics or prosperity. Sustainable development takes a
different, more caring look at how people interact with themselves and how their activities
affect the planet and the general well-being of life for sustained economic growth.
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In 2010, modern technology, as a major factor for making the world more sustainable,
was highlighted as “Preserving resources by minimizing their environmental impact, improving
energy efficiency, reducing waste, and adopting new environmentally friendly technology will
be the trends in the future for robot manufacturers" (Heinberg, 2012).
However, at the end of 2010, many questions about sustainable development remained.
Does it [sustainable development] refer to climate change and the environment; or is it
[sustainable development] more than that?” (Walters, 2010).
In 2011, (Baumgartner, 2011) stated that sustainable development “is about enhancing
the possibilities for improvement in the quality of life for all people on the planet and it is about
respecting and living within the limits of ecosystems”. Such a definition describes the core of
the concept well, but does not answer the hardest question how can this be achieved? At the
same time, formulations of clear goals of the term were appearing: “the fundamental objective
of sustainable development is to meet human needs…economic growth is required in areas
where the basic needs are not met…development should not endanger natural systems that
sustain life on the earth: the atmosphere, water, soil and living beings” (Koho, Torvinen, &
Romiguer, 2011). Further confirmation of such ideas was once again described through the old
paradigm of the triple bottom line: “sustainable development generally refers to achieving a
balance among the environmental, economic, and social pillars of sustainability” (Murphy,
2012) (c.f. Figure 1).
Later, a change to the triple bottom line idea was proposed, using other categories that
are more applicable to different countries or societies. “The three pillars of sustainability are
replaced by four categories, comprising the environment, state, capital and labour” (Deutz,
2014). The extension, however, did not cover all of the pillars of sustainability, and
furthermore, it still did not explain means of achieving the above-mentioned sustainable
development goals.
In Germany, the government wanted to promote the computerization of manufacturing,
as a contribution to "green" manufacturing. The term "Industry 4.0", meaning the fourth
industrial revolution was/is used, which is a collective term embracing a number of
contemporary automation, data exchange and manufacturing technologies. Industry 4.0 also
facilitates the vision and execution of a "Smart Factory". On 8 April 2013, at the Hanover Fair,
the final report of the Working Group Industry 4.0 was presented.
Nowadays, it is becoming more and more accepted that sustainable development cannot
be defined once and forever. It is a term that can be perceived differently, depending on the
area of its application and goals of those applying it. “Sustainable development has always been
a ‘flexible’ concept interpreted in many different ways” (Kambites, 2014). Another useful
“assumption is that sustainable development is based not on economic, social, ecological, or
institutional dimensions, but rather on their system seen as an integrated whole” (Ciegis,
Ramanauskiene, & Martinkus, 2015).
There is still no agreement on a definition of the term “sustainable development. There
are two main views one of them is to specify the term and make it universal, while the second
claims that this cannot be done because of the flexibility and pluralism of the question. More
important than a discussion of the meaning of the term is to discuss how to develop sustainable
products and services and how to get managers and product developers to acquire appropriate
knowledge and experience to prevent the development, production and marketing of non-
sustainable products.
2.2. SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
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There are many factors affecting the development of new products. Figure 5 shows
some background issues and considerations to explore when starting the development of a new
product.
Fig. 5 Some background issues and considerations to explore when starting the development of a new product (Ottosson, 2009)
Many new product development (NPD) models exist but so far only one Dynamic
Product Development DPD™ - seems to include more than one or two of the outer demands
(USB) in figure 2 in the development process.
The entrepreneur/project leader and the product development team (c.f. Figure 3) will
strongly influence the environmental impact during the whole Product Life Cycle of the product
and the supplementary products that the primary product may need to function as intended.
Figure 6 shows the recommended actions to develop a sustainable product solution. The
numbers in the figure refer to:
1. Based on the intended user and the use of the product, seek to enhance safety and
quality of life from the use of the product.
2. Decrease the resource utilization and the costs throughout the whole PLC depending
on the initial quality and price of the product and its variants.
3. Minimize the negative impact on the environment throughout the PLC.
Fig. 6 Actions to develop a sustainable product solution
The decision-making tasks in the product development process in Figure 6 (e.g., the
choice of solution principles or the specification of materials and geometry) are often difficult
to determine because the basic objectives (such as cost, function, and quality) are
interdependent. This is the reason why the approach/concept of “Design for X DfX” was
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proposed in the early 1990’s (Hubka, 1995). At that time, DfX was defined as “all endeavors
towards making the right decisions in the product development process on basis of a sufficient
and universally applicable knowledge basis” (Huang, 1996). Because there are both objectives
that support each other, and others that compete against each other in the development process,
DfX provided “a systematic guidance for making decisions in product development related to
products, processes and plants” (S Bauer & Meerkamm, 2007). Step-bystep, the family of
DfX has grown so that, today, there is a large number of X’s mentioned and used in engineering
design, which can be pictured as a family tree (Stefan Bauer, 2003).
With many X’s to take into consideration in the development process, product
developers have to select and weight different DfX criteria (Bauer & Meerkamm, 2007).
However, the order in which the different DfX’s should be carried out in order to achieve an
optimal result, when it comes to satisfying demands of the project triangle (cost, time, and
properties), has not been adequately discussed. Probably this is mainly because each
development process is unique and complex and thereby difficult to handle in a scientific way.
However, coming back to the discussions on sustainability, it seems to be reasonable to pursue
a user-centered design.
Initially, the focus of product development was on satisfying the needs of
business/profit. Thus, Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA or DFMA) was
primarily interested these goals in the development process. Generally, the practice of applying
DfMA is to identify, quantify and eliminate waste or inefficiency in a product design. Therefore
DfMA can be seen as a component of Lean Manufacturing, e.g., (Holweg, 2007). DfMA is also
used as a benchmarking tool to study competitors’ products, and as a cost tool to assist in
supplier negotiations (Boothroyd, Dewhurst, & Knight, 2010).
In the middle of the 1990’s, User Centred Design (UCD) and Design for Usability
(DfU), as well as Design for Ergonomics (DfEr) began to be broadly used, e.g., (Jordan, 1998).
From about 2005, Design for Environment (DfEn) and Sustainable Design also gained
increased interest in product development.
Step by step new DfX have been added to the DfX family why the order in which to
satisfy them has become an issue in itself although not much discussed. Logically, the priority
order when developing a new product should be to satisfy the users/use, the society and the
business. The simple reason is that without pleased users, there will be no (economically)
sustainable business. Without satisfying society demands on sustainable (green) products, there
will also be no sustainable businesses. Thus, satisfying user demands in the development
process is of prime interest, followed by satisfying the sustainable demands on the Product Life
Cycle (PLC) chain from the cradle to the grave of the product.
Seen from a user’s point of view, a product can have at least six important product
values, which can overlap each other (Ottosson, 2009).
Functional values are dependent on the technical solutions, mostly hidden inside the
product. The function can be as simple as just filling out the space (e.g., the gas in a
balloon or the concrete in walls). It can also be advanced, encompassing all degrees
between simple and advanced (e.g., an engine in a car has simple as well as advanced
parts and systems.
Perception/sensorial values are based on what we experience with our five basic senses
(see/hear/taste/touch/smell) from outside and/or in contact with a product. The product
semantics are important parts of these values.
Image values are based on the image we get of the product and what we think of it, for
example, when we close our eyes. Brand names, patents, the image given on web pages,
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stories and the expressed experiences of the product by other users will influence and
develop the image we have of the product. The product semantics can influence these
values.
Emotional values are the passion/feelings we have for a product. The product semantics
can influence these values.
Sustainability values are longlasting, environmentally responsible values for the users,
the society, and the providers (the businesses).
The different values of a product solution can be satisfied by using the different Design
for X possibilities, as shown in Table 1.
Table 1 Some design methods to use to achieve different values in product solutions
Good functional values and usability are inter-related. According to (ISO, 1998), usability
is “the effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which specific users can achieve
specified/particular goals in particular environments”. On a deeper level, these three terms have the
following meanings.
Effectiveness - the proposed product effective for reaching the goal? Is it possible to
implement the findings in real user environments? What is required to make that happen
(e.g., educational needs, training needs, expert needs, acquisition of tools,
organizational change)?
Efficiency - the proposed product efficient to use? Is it tricky to use? Is it time/resource
intensive?
Satisfaction - Will the users find the use of the product more pleasant to use than what
they experienced before the implementation? Will the users feel that the outcome is
more efficient? Will the use of the new product contribute to a better economical result
for the individual or will it reduce failure risks in any aspect?
Still another aspect of the usability of a product is that it should contribute to a barrier-
free world for any user. This is called Universal Design, for which seven principles have been
proposed (Story, Mueller, & Mace, 1998):
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1. Equitable Use;
2. Flexible in Use;
3. Simple and Intuitive;
4. Perceptible Information;
5. Tolerance for Error;
6. Low Physical Effort;
7. Size and Space for Approach and Use.
To find a functional design that takes into consideration the different usability aspects,
the systematics of BAD, PAD, MAD, and CAD has been shown to produce good results. Brain
Aided Design (BAD) means thinking of a different abstract solution. Pencil Aided Design
(PAD) means sketching. MAD means making a model in as simple a way as possible. PAD,
MAD, and CAD were terms that were used in the early 1990’s in the architecture department
of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden (Branzell, 1995). At that time, creative
methods, such as Brainstorming were much discussed to solve problems. In order to include
individual creativity, BAD was proposed as an addition to the PAD-MAD-CAD chain
(Ottosson, 1995).
Figure 7 explains the abbreviations, as well as the recommendation to start the work at
an abstract and wholeness level, and then to proceed to the detailed and concrete level. The
order in which the different activities are carried out is dependent on the products to be
developed, the newness desired, time limits, and other issues. The end result is a model, and
with additional information, it can be called a product concept.
Fig. 7 To find a functional solution from a wish, different steps are needed (Ottosson, 2009)
If the optimal order of the priorities when developing a new product is to satisfy the
users/use, the society and the business, DfU must be addressed first, after which the other DfX’s
can be integrated step by step. Figure 8 shows an illustration of the steps to be taken for the
development of a mechanical product. As shown in the figure, new development must always
be checked against DfU so that the usability is not hampered.
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Fig. 8 An example of the order in which a new mechanical product can be developed to obtain an optimal result that satisfies many
different demands (Ottosson, 2009)
In contrast to what is generally taught that all demands must be set before commencing
with the creation of a concept we have found in industrial and student projects that a faster
and less risky way is to start only with one primary and two or three secondary demands, and
then proceed with creating concepts and solutions to satisfy them (Ottosson, 2004). When one
or more of the concepts and solutions have been found, more demands can then be added for
each of them. These demands can result in the necessity to find new solutions. If a solution
does not hold in the test and evaluation phase, it is stopped from further development and
documentation is made of the findings and experiences. We have found that using this principle
in practical work, which is shown in Figure 9, the work can go ahead at a high speed, resulting
in a final concept and a solution that are both well documented.
Fig. 9 The concept development is an iterative process in DPD™ (Ottosson, 2009)
2.3. INNOVATION THEORY
The term “innovation” is apparently derived, from the Latin “novus”, which means new
or young or novel. Unfortunately, there is no single, accepted definition of the term
“innovation”. Historically, innovation was defined as the introduction of new elements or a
new combination of old elements in industrial organizations (Schumpeter, 1934). Thus, his
focus was on the actual new ideas or inventions but not on the realization of them. Later,
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(Kanter, 1983) defined innovation as the process of bringing any new, problem-solving idea
into use.
In our times, the terms “Innovation and “Sustainability, have both become
buzzwords, with no single definition. In general, “Innovation” is a positively loaded term that
brings hope in difficult times for actors in the private sector, the public sector, the idealistic
(non-profit) sector, as well as for whole economies. However, it is seldom explained in terms
of how to create successful innovation. Even more unclear is how to develop “Sustainable
Innovations” although we might have an intuitive feeling that the expression refers to the
development of something good.
According to conventional understanding, “Innovations (independent of a definition of
the term) are only done in the private sector (Mulgan, 2007). However, in reality, they have
often have been and are being developed in the public sector or in the idealistic (non-
commercial) sector. For example, from the public sector we have gained the Internet (CERN),
the World Wide Web (DARPA), and new teeth and prostheses made with titanium (Gothenburg
University). In the idealistic sector, different open-source solutions have been and are being
developed frequently. When the new solutions in these sectors mature, they often migrate into
the private sector to become commercial products. This might be why we perceive innovations
as something emerging from the private sector.
Thus, innovations are and must be created and developed in all three sectors, although
the aims of the work differ. For the private sector, the main aim is to create a sustainable profit.
For the public sector, the main aim is to give better service to the people in the society. For
the non-commercial sector, the goal is often a better world. All of these activities may
encompass a local or global scale. Figure 10 shows these aims for the three sectors, which are
strongly connected to USB in Figure 3.
Fig. 10 Innovative work in different sectors has different aims (Ottosson, 2009)
If we think of “innovation” as a substantive - the end result of a long development
project the mission of an “innovation project” is to carry out all its activities on a micro level
in an organization in order to develop, market and sell a new product and/or service with the
aim that it will be used or consumed. Today, the selling price is often zero, especially in the
non-profit sector. An Innovation Process” includes the work done following this system, led
by the innovation project team of an entrepreneur.
Simply stated, the entrepreneur is like the spider in the innovation process web, in which
the sales personnel and market developers must be closely related to the potential customers,
while the product developers - and supply chain developers - must be closely related to the
users and consumers of the products being developed (see Figure 11). Thus, an innovation
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project is an example of a complex, adaptive social system, encompassing a number of
interrelations.
Fig. 11 Innovation development takes place in a complex adaptive social system (Ottosson, 2009)
In general, projects are set up to make something unique. Performance demands, cost
limits and completion dates are normally set before the project begins. Innovation projects
differ from other projects in that they often determine the demands from trial and error, they
have no clear finishing dates or rolling cost limits, and they can receive income from the sales
of the new products.
A short definition of an innovation covering all sectors of the society might be
(Ottosson, 2013):
Innovations are new products and/or services that have been “sold” and taken in
use in a local geographical market.
A more comprehensive definition of an innovation, based on the short definition, is that
it is a new product (i.e., goods, services and/or information) that has been bought or adopted
and has been taken in use. Thus, a new product that has not been bought or adopted is not a
new innovation. A new product that has only been acquired but has not been used is also not a
product innovation. Note, however, that acquiring” should be understood here in a wider
perspective than just an immediate payment of money. For products/services that are given
away free-ofcharge, these products/services are often meant to generate other benefits sooner
or later, such as revenue, contacts, membership, publicity, or information.
“Adoption”, in the definition, means that the product is stored, used, or used
up/consumed (see Figure 12). Although it may sound strange, end users can be (human) users
or consumers, animals, or machines, among others. To make sure the products under
development become good enough in terms of hard and soft values, the product developers
need to collect relevant information about their use, both before and during the entire
development process.
Sales - &
market developers
Customers
Developers &
suppliers
Users,
consumers,
patients, etc.
Entre-
preneur
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Fig. 12 A wider definition of demands on an innovation (Ottosson, 2009)
A buyer’s/customer’s decision to acquire a product is dependent on many things, such
as which buyer category the customer belongs to, the customer’s present and/or future need of
the product, the solution(s) offered by the product, the customer’s emotional value of the
product, the total price of the product during the time it is in the customer’s possession and use,
the financial situation of the customer, the estimated further sales price, or the positive or
negative value of it at the time of its disposal. The marketers, as well as the sales people, can
educate the customers and users to buy/use sustainable products.
3. REFLECTIONS
The Brundtland Report and all the various papers and articles that have been written on
the subject of sustainability seem to have had the goal of defining the term. The Natural Step
has carried the focus forward to “Down to action”. Therefore, a question is if Dynamic Product
Development (DPD™) can satisfy the different views of sustainable product development?
As each innovation is unique, each innovation project needs a unique business idea or
a unique set of ideas to be sustainable at different levels. Figure 13 shows how different views
on sustainability can be used as inputs in DPD™, in order to guide product developers to
develop sustainable products. The time component is then integrated into the term PCT
(Performance-Cost-Time), setting the boundaries of most development projects. Thus, DPD™
seems to be a useful match between different views on what sustainable innovation is and how
to develop them.
Fig. 13 The DPD™ principles are well positioned for the actual development of sustainable new products, forming the base of new
innovations
Neither “Sustainable Development nor Innovation is a well-defined term. To describe
what ”Sustainable Innovation is and how it is developed, the following definitions are
proposed. A Sustainable Solution is a solution that has been developed to be a longlasting,
environmentally responsible solution for the provider (the business), the society and the users.
by
that has been
acquired by a
Citizens
Businesses
Governments
New
solution
An innovation is a -
and
which
is
goods
service
information
adopted
stored
used
used up
users
consumers
machines
animals
etc.
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An innovation is a new solution that has been “sold” and is used by more than one user or that
is used in at least one use-situation. The innovation process, carried out as an innovation
project, contains all stages from idea generation, development (R&D) and commercialization
to an implemented solution on the market.
4. CONCLUSIONS
We now need to focus on how to develop new sustainable innovations, for which the
product development is the most important aspect. It has been found that Dynamic Product
Development (DPD™) is a model that satisfies the various definitions of sustainability that
have been proposed.
The result of a product development project is based on the product developer’s
knowledge, experience, and ability. The leadership of an entrepreneur (or intrapreneur) is
vitally important to the level of sustainability of an innovation. Therefore, product developers
and entrepreneurs need to be educated in a broader perspective than that which is common in
the technical field today. Product developers must also be monitored in their actual work
situation in order to prevent the marketing of new products that are not sustainable. This, in
turn, calls for a similar broader perspective in management education.
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... From our investigations ( Ottosson et al, 2016) we found that the popularity of the term "sustainable" started with the report,-Our Common Future‖, also called the Brundtland Report, which was released in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). The report stated that development only is sustainable if it-meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs‖. ...
... To describe what a sustainable innovation is and how it is developed, the following definitions have been proposed ( Ottosson et al 2016): a sustainable solution is a solution that has been developed to be a long-lasting, environmentally responsible solution for the provider (the business), the society and also the users; an innovation is a new solution that has been-sold‖ and is used by more than one user, or that is used in at least one use-situation; the innovation process, done as an innovation project, contains all of the stages from idea generation, development (R&D) and commercialization, to an implemented solution on the market. According to conventional understanding,-Innovations‖ (independent of a definition of the term) are only done in the private sector ( Mulgan, 2007). ...
... forming the base of new innovations ( Ottosson et al. 2016) Neither-Sustainable Development nor-Innovation‖ is a well-defined term. To describe what ‖Sustainable Innovation‖ is and how it is developed, the following definitions are proposed. ...
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