At the heart of innovation lies the desire to improve: to investigate a concept or a hypothesis and interrogate existing ideas about what’s possible, and what comes next. In that sense, innovation is about more than delivery or implementation - it’s aspirational: a promise that what you’re building is considerate, thoughtful, and meaningfully forward-thinking.
And when it comes to improving a product or a process or a service, a genuinely innovative organisation will bake these considerations into their ethos, so that what’s being developed isn’t just built for purpose, but built purposefully.
Sustainability is about responsibility
As a concept, sustainability is relatively, often frustratingly nebulous. It can and does mean different things for different industries, but across every sector it inextricably links the development or refinement of products, processes, or services with an affirmative responsibility to identify exactly how your organisation will take social and/or environmental responsibility for what it is you’re putting out into the world. Importantly, this responsibility can no longer be divorced from innovation itself. To put it plainly: innovation that doesn’t contemplate issues of sustainability isn’t really innovation, at all.
"To put it plainly: innovation that doesn't contemplate issues of sustainability isn't really innovation, at all."
And this responsibility - to own how your organisation will manage issues of sustainability in the marketplace - starts long before you begin workshopping your next innovation: to create genuinely sustainable products, you should focus on building a diverse team.
Teams composed of people with different experiences, skills, education, and backgrounds have been shown - time and time again - to create the best, most useful products for the most people. And when your organisation is able to create and deploy the most useful products for the widest audience, it’s improving its ROI exponentially. In this way (and others) sustainability isn’t just an ethical question, it’s an economic one.
Once a more sustainable product (one that’s most useful to the most people) is developed and launched, the focus of an organisation’s responsibility shifts and the crux of the question pivots from a social consideration, to a series of environmental ones: what exactly is being done to ensure that waste is reduced, items are safely disposed of, and environmental impact is being minimised?
And for a truly innovative business, the inquiry doesn’t end at their own door: helping to ensure that your customers or clients are also benefiting from your commitment to sustainability is quickly becoming standard practice - to do less is to respond to only half of the question. Avoiding this shortcoming involves, in part, implementing accessible programmes for the appropriate collection and disposal of products.
"And for a truly innovative business, the inquiry doesn't end at their own door: helping to ensure that your customers or clients are also benefiting from your commitment to sustainability is quickly becoming standard practice."
For our part, Reactec is committed to reducing our environmental impact which, in turn, helps our clients reduce theirs. Our Safety-as-a-Service plans ensure the collection and environmentally appropriate disposal of all electronics, including recycling and upcycling where possible. We also use recyclable packaging for all of our products, and our tech is wrapped and delivered in recyclable cardboard and sealed with recyclable tape.
And when it comes to the teams developing, building, selling, and servicing these products - they’re composed of people with different backgrounds, experience, skills, and points of view.
The dimensionality of sustainability
Ultimately, sustainability exists in two dimensions: the now, and the next.
Not unlike a promise, it’s at once aspirational, and immediately actionable. And genuine innovation unquestionably requires a commitment to sustainability - a commitment that considers these critical issues from day one, while simultaneously interrogating what might be possible, one day.