Innovators Help Business Change From Within
by Giselle Carr
Yesterday, the Aspen Institute Business and Society program announced the 2010 First Mover Fellows, individuals working within companies to combine economic business growth with positive social change in the realm of product and service development. The sixteen Fellows chosen for 2010 come from a wide variety of industries and countries. One of them is Pratt Design Management Professor Eric Wilmot of Wolff Olins, who teaches International Environment of Business with André Correa d’Almeida. Eric’s work focuses on the intersection of business, design and social/ environmental impact; he leads new products, services and business design solutions for major global brands. In terms of strategic design, the twelve-month Fellowship is built around the core themes of innovation, leadership, reflection and community; essentially redesigning business. It offers individual innovators the ability to network with one other as a community, and to develop the necessary skills to bring innovations to fruition within their companies. “Through sharing ideas and challenges with other participants, they are also exposed to different models of business growth and innovation which they can share with their colleagues. And, because they are closely involved in the strategic initiatives in their companies, what they learn can have significant impact” (Nancy McGaw, Director of the First Movers Program).
The First Movers face unprecedented challenges within their companies and industries, and therefore require a new and innovative approach to leadership. A few examples include:
• Sally Madsen of IDEO is creating a platform for knowledge sharing on social innovation, which will allow the firm to share and collect insights, as well as previously developed solutions internally and with the public.
• At the other end of the spectrum, Ajay Badhwar of The Dow Chemical Company, is working with existing technologies to transform byproducts from power plants and industrial sources, in effort to capture and reduce CO2 gas emissions.
• Jeremy Neuner of NextSpace – Coworking + Innovation is redefining how people work by creating communities and offering resources to the self-employed as society moves toward more of a freelance economy due to the changing nature of employment.
• Emma Stewart of Autodesk is creating a Sustainable Design Living Lab to develop new software solutions that accelerate the greening of commercial buildings.
The Aspen Institute Business and Society Program developed the First Movers Fellowship. Their mission is to equip business leaders for the 21st century with a new management paradigm – the vision and knowledge to integrate corporate profitability and social value. Founded in 1950, the Aspen Institute is an international nonprofit organization that fosters enlightened leadership, the appreciation of timeless values and ideas, and open-minded dialogue on contemporary issues. As strategic design becomes more widespread and is utilized across more spheres of business, this vision will shift that of the current global economy and the practices of companies within it.