Cannabis and the nascent industry is our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drive solutions to some of humanity’s greatest challenges. It’s a chance to become a major driver of business, societal, and environmental change — transformational change.
Be it an ever-increasing need for energy, insecurities around food and resources, the burgeoning degradation of our ecosystem, or facing-up to the realities of climate disruption, we need innovative solutions.
It is becoming increasingly clear that we will require a new suite of products, services, strategies, and tactics to address the underlying business models that frame them. If this is the winter of our discontent, then more than ever, we will need to innovate.
Throughout my career, innovation has been at the core of my work. In my early career I was involved in product innovation. Later, I was involved in market innovation as I moved from established markets in Europe and the U.S. to developing markets and economies in Asia and Latin America.
In recent years, my focus on innovation has centered less on commerce and more on impact and meaning.
Most significantly, delivering not only an economic upside for clients but a social and environmental impact for stakeholders, a.k.a ImpactAlpha.
Four Types of Innovation
I have used and referenced many models and frameworks that outline an approach to organizational innovation.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) outlined four types of innovation: product, process, marketing, and organizational, which I used extensively in those formative years.
More recently, I have relied on Greg Satell’s version of his four types of innovation: basic research, sustaining, disruptive, and breakthrough.
I believe these frameworks may be relevant to your own innovation needs. I have also found them useful should your innovation needs require delivering success beyond an economic impact, to deliver social and environmental impact as well.
No matter the innovation framework used, it has become clear to me that innovation falls into one of two types: incremental or radical — and the choice is a very strategic one.
At Regennabis, we often say that our community is “incrementally driving transformational change.” There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Whether in music (The Beatles), sport (Serena Williams), or in business (you/your company), we all know there have been many hours fine tuning a set of skills, capabilities, and products or services in order that they are finally realized.
The same can be said of impact. While impact may appear sudden, it is near-always the result of a persistent focus on knowing what impact goals have been set organizationally along with the unbending application to deliver them, incrementally. Understanding this truth serves the “Impact Innovator” well.
In business, and especially so in the cannabis industry, the ability and agility to innovate is critical.
Yet to deliver innovation beyond only an economic impact (commercialization) and to deliver a social as well as an environmental impact is paramount.
Models for innovation have been around for a long time and have stood the test of time.
Innovation should no longer be singularly focused on commercialization but on creating a more inclusive society and doing less harm to the planet.
Radical innovation may well play out, but through an incremental approach your organization has a better chance of hitting the front — and staying there.
This article was first published in the winter 2021 issue of Cannabis & Tech Today. Read the full issue here for free.