Umair Haque and behavior innovation

umair-haqueI got to know Umair Haque´s work through my friend Mireille Jansma´s post on twitter, wich is already a sign that things are changing. I´ve graduated on economics and there´s been a long time since I got so interested in an economic theory.

Haque´s Smart Growth Manifesto and his concept of behavior innovation are disruptive and enlighting!

He´s managed to link innovation to ethics in a fundamental way. This is something I really believe in: if you are thinking about products, services, markets or businesses of the future, you are building a new world and nothing more logical than asking yourself “what kind of world is this?” “who will benefit?” “are we wasting our natural resources?”.

But Haque goes well beyond that.

He says this crisis is putting the very fundamental strategic behaviour of the Capitalism 1.0 of the 20th Century against the wall: “I´m better off, you´re worse off” or, as Adam Smith once said “all for ourselves, and nothing for the people.”

Normally innovation is about amplifying the costs and benefits we provide for customers, buyers and stakeholders in general, but at what cost? How? When will we realize that process is at least as important as product?

“Now we need to reconceive the costs and benefits that shape our behavior. We need new principles to guide value” – says Haque.

One of Google´s principles, for example is: “You are smart and your time matters.”

The author mentions 5 principles to behavior innovation.

  • Stewardship, which is related to responsibility and not depleting common resources.
  • Trusteeship, which is about playing on a fair ground in terms of business and not cheating to obtain fast profit. (As an example, he mentions the phone company that bought the London Milleninum dome name… what an opportunity!).
  • Guardianship, which is about “being a guard” of the common good.
  • Leadership, which is about challenge and having the courage to point out what is wrong in a market place, for example. (Why didn´t anyone in Wall Street denounce what was going on?)
  • Partnership, which means that brands will not be about differentiation or mere value perception, but about meaning and real “thick value”.( Food industry, for example, should see consumers as partners).

I dared to copy the table he presents.

Principle Capitalism 1.0 Capitalism 2.0
Stewardship Cost advantage Loss advantage (for the society as a whole)
Trusteeship Dominance Responsiveness
Guardianship Control Resilience
Leadership Differentiation Difference (everybody in the value chain gets a fair share)
partnership brand meaning

I´ve also extracted some passages from the four pillars of Smart Growth he proposes – for economies, communities, and corporations:

“1. Outcomes, not income. Dumb growth is about incomes – are we richer today than we were yesterday? Smart growth is about people, and how much better or worse off they are – not merely how much junk an economy can churn out.”

2. Connections, not transactions. Dumb growth looks at what’s flowing through the pipes of the global economy: the volume of trade. Smart growth looks at how pipes are formed, and why some pipes matter more than others: the quality of connections.”

“3. People, not product. … Smart growth isn’t driven by pushing product, but by the skill, dedication, and creativity of people. “

“… Smart growth isn’t powered by capital dully seeking the lowest-cost labour — but by giving labour the power to seek the capital with they can create, invent, and innovate the most.”

“4. Creativity, not productivity. “ Smart growth focuses on economic creativity – because creativity is what let us know that competition is creating new value, instead of just shifting old value around.”

Is your organization taking these ideas into account while innovating?


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