Innovation Part 4 – Sustainable Innovation


In a recent trip to Stanford University and taking the time to examine the Silicon Valley as a whole, I kept asking myself and industry executives that I met the question: “Is innovation at this level sustainable?” I got a resounding “yes” from most quarters but with no particular reasoning or methodology! So it was time to dig deeper and, fortunately, some of our lecturers at Stanford discursively addressed this issue.

Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stanford Lecturer and author of the best seller ‘Power’ said: “If you want to be promoted to partner in a law firm you won’t be assessed by doing your job well, you will be assessed on: Can you bring money into the business?” In reality to build a great company that is innovative, there is a necessity to have at the core a sustainability plan that promotes those that produce income for the firm. Nick Wailes a guest lecturer from University of Sydney, in a debrief session, made the observation that, “we don’t necessarily hire for the long term, we hire for the short term outcome, but that diversity potentially builds a long-term sustainable and effective organisation”. In reality, sustainable innovation is always going to be getting the right mix of long-term team players and short-term specialists that can move things along.

In further exploring a model of developing long-term sustainable innovation in the Metamorphic space I did some further research in regard to the application in the not-for-profit (NFP) world. Vernis et al (2006) says, “nonprofits should innovate continually” and goes on to describe how this should be the most outstanding feature of the third sector. But at the core of his argument is the need for collaboration when he says,” the ongoing changes affecting our world render collaboration an indispensable strategy”.

The application for Metamorphic is obvious: we must build social capital in all of our dealings and create organisational glue in each of our networks. We do that by developing strong and strategic collaborative relationships. In this process we need to build a long term innovative team that is income producing (an anomaly in the NFP world) while also utilising short-term project-centered teams. This deliberate shift at Metamorphic is helping us progress from a precarious year-to-year existence into the long-term, sustainable and innovative organisation we desire and need to be.

As we at Metamorphic move forward in this space called ‘Sustainable Innovation’ we have begun to work with other NFP’s to help them move forward and strengthen also. for more information on how we can help you build Sustainable Innovation contact our office on +61754379002.

Our next installment on innovation will cover some thoughts on Monetising Innovation.

About the author