Be(e) the change
The tips you need to succeed in sustainable innovation.
Honestly. How important is it for all innovation to be sustainable? Innovation is challenging enough even when you don’t need to think about people and the environment at the same time. According to Lars Rinnan in Amesto, the solution is to embed the Triple Bottom Line in everything from strategy to innovation. Make money from what you excel at but create value for people and the environment at the same time.
Lars Rinnan, CEO Amesto NextBridge
- The power lies in the word,” says Lars Rinnan, head of Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and analytics in Amesto. Sustainability is not only important from a societal perspective, it is also commercially available. If you add innovation to the equation, you change the bottom line, your business and society at the same time. It is a win-win situation for all parties.
Sustainable innovation was something Lars got a shot at when the company was commissioned to develop a digital solution to optimise the path of the bees on their way to find food. As pollinators, bees are an extremely important part of the ecosystem and, when it was discovered that a large number of bees were dying as a result of being unable to find food within an appropriate radius, the need to develop new solutions arose.
Bees use a dance called the ‘waggle dance’ to show each other the way to food,” explains Lars. We collected insights about the dance through films and data and decoded the dance to determine the direction and distance from the food source using a map. Based on the map, beekeepers were able to see where bees found nectar, the current location of the hives and the optimal location of the hives. By moving the hives to the optimal location, the solution helps reduce bee death, optimise pollination and improve planning of both agricultural land and urban areas.
Not only did the project deliver on important sustainability goals for Beefutures, it also resulted in committed employees, new partners and new opportunities. It also made a small contribution towards saving the planet. But how do you cultivate sustainable innovation in your business?
But how do you cultivate sustainable innovation?
According to Arild Spandow, CEO and owner of the Amesto, if you want innovative solutions, you have to start by placing innovation on the agenda. Innovation has to be incorporated in the business strategy and you have to generate commitment and involve the whole organisation. You have to understand that innovation comes at a cost, not only in terms of money but also in terms of work activities and resources. Innovation can become a headache if you approach it with a short-term mindset.
“It’s difficult to drive innovation if you only focus on operations,” explains Arild.
Arild himself believes in a combination of entrepreneurship and growth strategy. Of Amesto’s BNOK 1.3 turnover, no less than NOK 400 million originates from intrapreneur activities, with a profit of NOK 43 million. He believes that this can largely be attributed to the company culture.
“We have always been open to input, ideas and innovation. We have a culture in which we encourage each other, and we have great faith and confidence in one another. As leaders, we need to dare to let go and allow our employees to set the course. And if enough people take a turn at the wheel, the creative power of the company will increase.
Innovation often occurs in specific intrapreneurial or professional communities. When ready, we integrate to complement our services. In this way, we continuously add new tools to our toolbox and we deliver on our vision to “simplify business” for our customers.
Amesto’s commitment to innovation was recently recognised in the form of the Norwegian magazine Innovasjonsmagasinet’s award for the “Top 25 Innovative Norwegian Companies.
“This is by far the coolest list we could have been included in,” says an enthusiastic Arild. It provides reassurance that what we are doing is working and that it gets noticed.
What´s in it for me?
According to the Myers-Briggs personality profile, only 12% of the world’s population are idealists. In highly simplistic terms, you could say that it is only these 12% who would do the right thing for the planet without getting anything in return. The rest of us would prefer for it to also be profitable. One parallel that can be drawn is that most Tesla owners do not drive Tesla to save the planet but because it is a cool car. The fact that the transition from fossil cars is a positive thing for the planet is secondary.
“I therefore think it is crucial to ensure that sustainability measures are also profitable,” Lars explains.
If you accept the aforementioned premise, we could say that if we cannot generate enough focus on sustainability from the number of idealists in the world, we also need to ensure that measures are profitable. This will result in significantly more support. For us, as a commercial company, it is important and legitimate for projects to be profitable and sustainable.
For managers, we have implemented new standards in how we measure success. Based on what we refer to as the Triple Bottom Line. Managers must deliver results - not only in terms of profit but also in terms of the sustainable aspect, such as our project with the bees.
Be(e) the change.
It is simply a matter of making good choices. You don’t need huge creative teams to come up with sustainable innovation, but you must be willing to provide the time and space. It’s all about the little things, that can lead to big changes. We need to start by asking questions. How much freedom do you currently give your employees? How much time is spent on manual operations? Are your services viable in the long run?
Do you make good choices? Be(e) the change.