By Graham
Posted on: 2011-01-19 Futurproofing

We have the technology

We already have all the mature, sustainable and affordable technology we need in areas like renewable energy, water, food etc.  So what has stopped us from already having a fully sustainable economy and civilisation?

Simply that we have a gap in our social technology. Globally slower innovation in social technology (how people work together towards an objective,  and in how our markets work,) than in physical or chemical technology. We in tetraLD, along with a growing number of other people, have been saying this to our clients and in our public talks. A recent publication by the UK Institution of Mechanical Engineers has put some hard engineering data behind this too: see their report here.

That is where your business opportunities lie in the coming decade; and there are three simple actions you can take today.

We are hardwired as social animals by evolution. Most of our clients have seen new ways of growing their business looking at what this means in the following 3 areas:

  • We are hardwired to want positive interaction with others.
  • We are hardwired to want to contribute something meaningful to others.
  • We are hardwired to want fairness from others.

A powerful step to make your organisation Future Fit: how will your business model change if you take really seriously our hardwired nature, all the technology that already exists, and the gap in social technology?

The good news is that the cost of developing new social and market technologies is dropping as fast as the cost of new physical or chemical technologies is rising, so the following three actions are easy on your budget! Your CFO and shareholders are applauding now …

Action 1: Tell people how their work makes a difference

Does each individual in your organisation know how their work makes a difference to your customers? This is the social glue that holds people together, and is at the heart of any high-performance team. Invest time in this and you will get ten times more discretionary time invested back by each team member. Even better, what the team does with that time will be focused on what your customer wants to buy.

Action 2: Incremental innovation to an existing product.

How can one of your existing products or technologies be part of meeting your customers needs for positive interaction, meaning and fairness in their social lives? For example, the hotel reviews on the hotel reservation site have added these three into what could have been a ‘simple’ sales product (online hotel reservations).

Action 3: Start A Future Fit task force

How could your business evolve? Think of Nokia, how it evolved from paper, rubber, cabling to mobile phones that connect people! To get ahead of competition in the decade of social innovation, put in place a small task force of your most socially connected people and your most competent technical people, tasked with finding the social innovation will give you a business model that:

  1. uses what is technically possible today
  2. meets the three social needs above
  3. is profitable

Do these three things and you are on the road to being Future Fit. Of course, you can accelerate this with one of tetraLD‘s facilitated processes to marry technology and social innovation into a new element in your business strategy!