ILF Innovation News
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Dear Fellow Innovators,

As you may have noticed, sustainability is a frequently reoccurring theme  in the ILF mailouts.  As it seems that it has risen in awareness and importance not only on our own agenda, we would like to dedicate this edition to it. May we mention here that we are proud to have Marks and Spencer, which was an early adopter by establishing their Plan A, as a member of our networking group, Innovators Anonymous.

Let’s start with a few articles on our Wisdom page we have shared recently: about organisations seeking to give children the power to lead the way towards sustainability, a mindset focused on 'radical wellbeing', the greening of innovation and many others about the future and innovation.

Here a few more articles that evidence that, indeed, not only is business taking sustainability seriously, embracing sustainability is also a key driver for success. Innovation creates opportunities for companies to tweak or radically improve their products and services in a way that reduces their environmental impacts, often while delivering new features and benefits. These articles talk about innovation being crucial for the world of sustainability, how sustainability leadership drives innovation, the benefits of Sustainability-Driven Innovation and a list of interesting innovations poised to change sustainable industries.

The B-Team, initiated by Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz (Chairman and CEO of Puma until 2011) and launched officially on the 14th June 2013 has the mission to “catalyse a movement of business leaders driving a better way of doing business for the wellbeing of people and planet.”

If the B-Team is primarily focused on the world of business, Katerva focuses on identifying sustainable innovations through an amazing network of global scouts, veting them (through clever use of technology and an extensive network of experts) to then bring them to the attention of investors and large organisation so they can be scaled quickly.  Let us know if you might be interested in getting involved, for example helping with the vetting, or engaging as an expert (as we already do!).

Do you know the Ellen McArthur Foundation? They launched in 2010 with the aims to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, taking a three pronged approach: working with business, engaging schools and universities, and influencing policy. We have got lost on their insightful website a few times, so we highly recommend you checking their work.

Talking about circular economy, we just came across this toolkit developed at the Institute of Manufacturing, University of Cambridge. It provides free materials to companies to help create more sustainable products, services and business models.
We cannot talk about sustainability without introducing you to Petra Künkel, a friend of the ILF and enabler of collaboration for a sustainable future. The connection started with Bettina’s indignation of being asked to promote an event of an organisation she had never heard about …  The indignation transformed to admiration quickly once Bettina took a look at the website of the Collective Leadership institute (CLI): their work is just inspiring and reflects Petra’s passion for enabling collaboration, stakeholder engagement, leadership and sustainability, something that was recently recognised by an invitation to become a full member of the Club of Rome. In order to share her passion and make it actionable for others Petra has developed the Collective Leadership Compass about which you can also read more in her books – more are coming soon!

Sustainability is starting to permeate everything! Have you been to the Crystal in London? The sustainable building, opened in 2012 by Siemens, is home to the world’s largest exhibition on the future of cities (and also the world’s most sustainable events venue).  Their on-going exhibition is very insightful for those interested in the topic and we highly recommend. 


Here we would like to share some books we have come across - by no means representative as there are so many …
To start with some classics:

The first one started Bettina off on her journey: Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins (1999). In short, the book describes four principles that drive Natural Capitalism: 1. Do more with less which is about more efficient use of resources, 2. Shift towards biologically inspired production models, which is about biomimicry, 3. Move to solution based business models, which often means shifting form products to services, and the final one is about reinvesting in natural capital. Bettina had the great privilege of hosting a MasterClass with Amroy Lovins, one of the authors, and realised that all four principles of Natural Capitalism are great starting points for innovation!  So if you are ever stuck, that’s a great place to start!

The second principle of Natural Capitalism provides a neat link to our second classic: Biomomicry, by Janine M Benyus (first published in 1997), a book dedicated to ‘innovation inspired by nature’. You may want to watch her TED talk.

The third one we consider a complete classic is Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart (2002) - actually you can also find a very good and short introduction here. What we like about this concept is that it removes the big black cloud that sustainability always seemed to have been, and teaches us that, truly, we live in abundance and that it is not so much how much resources we use, it is rather how we use them, ie we need to ensure everything can be fed back into the system.  Another way of looking at it is, we are just borrowing resources, and should look after them and hand them back in good condition.

If materials are your thing, perhaps you might be interested in second volume of Material Revolution which addresses the rapid development in material research and presents materials new to the market since 2010. We are very pleased to hear that the significance of sustainable and intelligent materials in design and architecture has increased enormously over the last few years.

We cannot resist mentioning two books by Giles Hutchins, one of the ILF Wider Community, that are also highly relevant in this context of the topic of this mailout: The nature of Business: Redesign for Resilience (2012) and The illusion of separation: exploring the cause of our current crisis (2014).

And finally, one big question is always, how to go about it!  Here three documents to download that you might find useful. The first is the Executive Summary of a report by the Canada-based organisation Network for Business Sustainability which has, together with the University of Exeter, developed a useful framework for a journey towards sustainability. The second is the full report itself. The third is about Philips’ journey of bringing innovation and sustainability together, written by ILF Wider Community member Dorothea Ernst (formerly Seebode); you can download it here.



If you are interested in exploring sustainability and related topics through courses, here a few:

Together with the WWF Exeter University has established the One-Planet MBA in 2011.  You can read here why the WWF believes this kind of executive education is needed.
The Cranfield University offers a Post-Graduate course in Design and Innovation for Sustainability. It aims to address the engagement of design-led thinking with the business and social agenda for sustainable development. It is about rethinking and re engaging existing paradigms to stimulate new futures. Uniquely it does this through a focus on the multiple perspectives of Design, Management, Engineering and Science, and their engagement with innovation and sustainability. You can learn more about it here.

Based in the US the organisation Biomimicry 3.8 is offering educational programmes in this area - we have mentioned some of them in the past. To find out more click here. We should also not forget to mention that Petra’s Collective Leadership Institute is offering the Young Leaders for Sustainability programme which has sustainability at its core.

And we have more members of the ILF Wider Community as well as Friends of the ILF who are very active in this area: Denise De Luca has set up her own organisation to explore implications of biomimicry for leadership - you can find out more about her events here, and Arndt Pechstein has set up Biomimicry Germany as well as an innovation consultancy that is drawing on biomimicry, design thinking and system dynamics (you can imagine how much we love that he brings these three topics together - and has a background in neuroscience...).

And finally, do not forget about the upcoming ILF events. We will be hosting a meeting about '(Design) Tools & Methods For Engaging' 24th September, and a Study Tour to Germany to explore the topic of  'Understanding and Shaping the Future: Prototyping' 14th-16th October. If either of these is of interest to you, we would love to hear from you if you are interested in joining us.