Purpose Driven Innovation

Purpose Driven Innovation

“Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat.”- Steve Jobs. As the world is rapidly moving towards smart solutions, purpose-driven innovation is gradually picking pace. In fact, companies have redefined their measures for “driven innovations.” Since IBM has put forth the concept of People-Planet-Profit; the word innovation has got a whole new dimension altogether. But have you ever imagined what drives innovation? The answer is simple. Need. Here, innovation meets a purpose that needs to be fulfilled. Now, needs are several. Some of them might relate to business transformation whereas some of them might relate to upgrading customer needs. However, something that has changed business perspective in the 21st century is the consideration of three core elements that can balance and sustain business and its ecosystems. 

The three core elements are the economy, the entity, and the ecosystem. As we all witness, the economy was predominantly focused on the financial aspect of operations. In such a case, the entity-related (individual and socialistic) aspect, along with the environment was usually forgotten. Even the CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities couldn’t cater to the gap in the system. 

In order to align practices, processes, and policies keeping in mind all the three elements, it is necessary for companies to formulate and adopt purpose driven innovations. Purpose driven innovation is nothing but an organization that runs for a greater cause rather than for mere profits and product/service development. When innovation meets purpose, we gain sustainability, profitability, and customer delight. It also helps inefficient resource allocation and resource consumption. With innovation meeting purpose, more meaningful corporate visions materialize. With meaningful innovation, serving for the greater purpose, the overall corporate as well as economic ecosystem flourishes.

In order to frame products and services that are driven by innovation, one must understand the various ways in which they can make their innovation meet the purpose they want to fulfill. 

Meeting purpose in design driven innovation

A design driven innovation is one that transforms the meaning and purpose that a product serves. One of the best examples of design driven innovation in the making of idols with plant seeds inside them. Instead of immersing them in water bodies such as ponds and lakes, simply submerge in a pot of water, and voila! You get a plant after a few days. Such innovations are burning examples of the sustainability strategy being met. A design driven innovation can meet several purposes, such as product up-gradation, process efficiency, and resource sustainability. 

In order to go in depth into the area, let’s assume we design a certain packaging for chocolates. The packaging is well built and had slots to keep chocolates in place. What we can do next is market the product by demonstrating that those slots can be used to freeze ice. This way, you do not have to purchase extra ice trays. People always love freebies. This will ensure that the product is not thrown into the trash directly. Such an innovation serves a greater purpose other than serving chocolates and gives a good return on investment. 

A design driven innovation is usually implemented to upgrade a product. This can be done in terms of the outer looks, inner technology, or packaging as well. Everything holds value in terms of the outcome that it will produce. To ensure that the innovativeness of the product meets a greater is purpose driven, make sure to ask yourself these questions

  • Will the product/service serve a greater purpose to the entity that is going to use this?
  • Will the product/service be easy to dispose off?
  • Is the product/service beneficial to consumer even after it has served its purpose?
  • What is the ROI of the product after use? 

Customer driven innovation meeting purpose


A customer driven innovation, as the phrase states, is an innovation driven by the needs and demands of the customer. Now, how do you determine what the customer needs? It’s easy and simple. Look for product feedbacks. However, the majority of companies organize polls and statistics to understand what new are customers looking for in the market. Needless to say, some of the most amazing and breakthrough innovations come from the end user point of view. Meaningful innovations not only benefit the customer but also the company. Meaningful innovation is an asset to society and the research pool. Not only does it meet customer demand, but also initiates a step ahead towards sustainability and technological advancement.

Let’s take an example of the smartphones that we use today. If we analyze the timeline and the morphosis of a smartphone, we will understand how customer demand changes a product. At first, it was the touch feature that created the majority of hype. The next that came into the picture was the motion sensor. And the final that we are thriving today, is the camera quality. 

To make things more clear, the majority of the smartphone advertisements project the camera quality as the major selling feature of the smartphone, apart from the built and design. You will rarely find a smartphone advertisement where the protagonist doesn’t flaunt the camera quality. Or you will rarely come across a smartphone test and trial launch where celebrities aren’t posing for selfies. 

Gone are the days when people relied on photo studios for pictures. The era of affordable multipurpose devices – smartphones are in vogue. A smartphone can make calls for you, show you the way around an unknown area, entertain you, grab evidence for you and even help you create and capture memories. selfies have taken the smartphone market by storm. And why not? You are just a smartphone away from having an attractive social media outlet. The ease of operation, handy built and design, the plethora of opportunities and the cost-effectiveness of smartphones are something that has evolved over the years only because of their rampant popularity and customer demand. In terms of innovation, nothing can beat the transition and evolution of smartphones. Not only does it constantly get innovated to meet tangible needs but also constantly keeps evolving its aesthetics. This is a classic model of customer-driven innovation, meeting purpose. 

To meet find purpose in a customer driven innovation to ask yourself the following questions

  • Is this exactly what the customer wants?
  • How long will the customer use if before switching/discarding?
  • Is it reusable/ recyclable?
  • What will be the ROI before and after the purchase?
  • What resource sustainability does it offer?

Outcome driven innovation meeting purpose

An outcome-driven innovation is one that solely focuses on solving an issue. It’s straightforward with no side hassles attached. An outcome driven innovation needs to be quick and spontaneous. The reason behind this is that, if there is a problem, there will be an end user group that will be eager to switch and turn around. Moreover, in terms of profit, the innovation shall be able to triple the ROI if the product/service turns out to be effective. Hence, an outcome-driven innovation meets the purpose of instant gratification; both to the enterprise and the end user.

If we happen to analyze the situation from 2020 onwards, the pandemic was in full force. No one knew how to stay, strive or sustain. It was this period that saw innovation in terms of product, process, and positioning. No one knew work from home was the thing. No one thought they would survive being locked up in their homes. And the funniest part is, mobiles weren’t allowed into schools. But what now? The mobile runs the school. No one thought they would be able to deliver lessons effectively from phones. Even virtual teams are a thing now.

What we learn from this is that, though the pandemic made us incur huge losses in terms of finance yet it made us realize and formulate a lot of things. Our processes have become efficient and time-saving. We have saved space. We have saved time. We have saved fuel. Our ecosystem is recovering. We have saved papers for the exam. What else could we have asked for? As such, innovation of this era has not only kept us safe but has also made us efficient and sustainable. Not to mention, it has saved us from another economic crisis. We still get to have food on our tables. 

Nevertheless, ask yourself the following questions before launching an outcome-driven innovation.

  • Is the outcome feasible and sustainable?
  • Does it guarantee complete solution to the existing problem?
  • Are the people willing to use it?

Ttechnology driven innovation meets purpose

A technology driven innovation as the term speaks is dependent on technological soluinterventions for it to be successful. The best example nowadays to describe technological innovations is the use of clean energy alternatives in metros and smart cities. A technology driven innovation is basically invented for the purpose of customer acquisition, business expansion, or resource efficiency. 

A burning example of technology driven innovation is the use of electric vehicles. As fuel prices were surging and the resources were depleting, it was important to look for other alternatives that would run our vehicles. Electric vehicles are the next-generation mobility modes. Such innovation has not only met cost effectiveness but has also satisfied clean fuel demands. These innovations have successfully turned the levers towards an era of smart solutions.

The purpose behind using electric vehicles is to provide people comfort, cost effectiveness and ease of mobility all in one. You might say that electric vehicles cost a lot and a lump sum goes into acquiring one. But let’s look at this the other way round. There will be no expensive fuel refills in that vehicle. A few watts of electricity are what it shall consume. When you are looking forward to implement technology driven innovations, ask the following questions

  • Will it help conserve the environment?
  • Will people adopt the technology?
  • Is it easy to use and understand?
  • Will it give ROI?

Innovation is the backbone to a learning economy. It is necessary to innovate and upgrade to keep oneself afloat in the competition. Organizations driven by innovation must focus on purpose driven innovation to ensure that their outputs are not mere products but are solutions that benefit them, the society and the ecosystem that they thrive in. A purpose driven innovation is the best way an organization can thrive in the competition, sustain in the ecosystem and get selected by society. Purpose driven innovation provides the organization with a sense of worthiness to its end users, the business community, and to the environment as well. If the bigger picture is to be considered, innovations today have the ability to transform our future. Innovations are the initiatives to smart solutions. They provide the cradle to the flourishing of future human civilizations.

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