Every Business Needs This: Impact Innovation
Over the past 18 months, the concept of impact and innovation has been heavily on my mind, business and personal development. From designing impact, to evaluating and unpacking it through learning and development gamification. In the journey to answer these questions (with the background in corporate innovation and impact acceleration), I established InnovTel and have been relentlessly enquiring and reiterating since the establishment of the firm, working and partnering with institutions from Europe to Africa to do so.
What has been the result?
The answer has been consistent across verticals with the practice of three core principles in impact innovation, and that is built in the wire of understanding, designing and monitoring and evaluating the impact of your business. A few of these answers are also detailed in the seven free resources (mentioned below) which you can have access when you subscribe to the www.vdubese.com monthly newsletter.
Let’s unpack these principles:
Impact is the result of what value has been created from the immediate consumption of a product.
In late 2020, I was invited by Lufthansa Group’s Inaugural Impact Week for South Africa engaging in impact design and business innovation. Impact Week is a global design thinking challenge that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship and has been held in Nepal, Nigeria, and Colombia to mention a few.
At the heart of the keynote was designing impact, and how inclusion should inform the kind of innovation that has potential to be impactful and intelligent. I broke this down to what I identified as the 3 I’s of how to actualise (“Inclusion Informs Intelligent, Impactful Innovation”) and model impact into the process of engineering a solution as per the design thinking challenge.
Design thinking refers to the cognitive, strategic, and practical processes by design making this composition of this definition inclusive, that makes it inclusive. Marking the foundation of design thinking in creating a solution is inclusive, how can one enhance the model with intelligence and impact to truly capacitate its potential?
Getting started with the Impact Resource Playbook is a good starting point.
Understanding what impact is and means for your business the first step, and one in the right direction to fully actualise the evolution of the company (and product) value. Once you have the data and harnessed the intelligence, a framework must exist of how this impact will be delivered – a strategy if you will, that will aid and abet the execution. Tools like the Impact Delivery Framework resource that I’ve curated come in handy, whether you have established a company or are in the early stages of your business. What does this resource achieve? It is a 3 page document with a guide of questions to help you consult how your business has been delivering its impact, how it can enhance the experience and process for stakeholders, and whether the process is an opportunity for a model upgrade.
Monitor and Evaluate it
“Investors were looking for some kind of objectivity about the question ‘What is impact?’ And the SDGs do give a roadmap. Bridges uses the SDGs to source business opportunities, and CDC is incorporating them into the development impact thesis of every new investment. The SDGs have galvanized a tremendous amount and a growing amount of private sector capital,” - Michele Giddens, co-CEO at Bridges Fund Management, and a non-executive director on the board of CDC Group.
To echo Michele’s outline of what impact can be used for, from sourcing business opportunities to employing investment, the framework that you develop can achieve a great outcome that contribute to the firm’s triple bottom line . How you monitor, evaluate and report your impact strategy makes difference, one that can access you to funding opportunities or weaponise the board to distrust your implementation.
This e-book covers a soft introduction to M&E covering strategy, modelling, stakeholders and reporting. Get yours here!
The impact of your business far outlives the output that you produce, it’s the tree that you should have planted 20 years ago. I’m one who finds thrill in the use of alliteration, and for the sake of the topic, I’d say ‘Invest In Impact Innovation” for your business.
Is this where the impact innovation process ends?
No, it is only the beginning. Investing in this evolving process spans the risk investment framework of your business and informs its trajectory inclusive of financial returns. Innovation is a continuous process dedicated to optimization, it is about finding and leaving something better than you found it, and as the vision of the company and technology of the products becomes optimised with AI and annual upgrades, why can’t the same effort be employed to the value that your stakeholders get from consuming your product?
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