Innovating our Common Future is the motto of the ISPIM 2021 conference in Berlin. With our Special Interest Group, we expect the worldwide leading innovation professional from research and advanced practice. Together with our colleagues from Borderstep we are hosting this event and contributed Values-Based and Sustainability-Oriented Innovation Management focus theme of the conference.   Changing customer and stakeholder values and normative frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations create new challenges and opportunities for innovation. We call for demonstrations of innovation approaches and solutions for key societal challenges on local, regional and global levels and how these can create our common innovation future.  

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What is behind the founders' spirit in Berlin as a hotspot for start-ups? Within the Long-Night-of Science Podcast (German) Thomas Prinzler moderates the discussion with Jonas Liepmann (Founder of Iversity), Prof. Rafaela Kunz (bbw University of Applied Sciences) and Prof. Henning Breuer (University of Applied Sciences for Media, Communication and Management). Prof. Dr. Henning Breuer in the discussion at the Long Night of Science 2020Prof. Dr. Henning Breuer in the discussion at the Long Night of Science 2020.

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Innovating in Times of Crisis is the motto of the upcoming ISPIM Virtual Conference. We are featuring a new Special Interest Group with a dedicated track on Values-Based and Sustainable Innovation with some of the worldwide leading innovation specialists from research and advanced practice. As co-hosts of the conference we also contribute Values-Based and Sustainability-Oriented Innovation Management as focal topics. Changing customer and stakeholder values and normative frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations create new challenges and opportunities for innovation. We call for demonstrations of innovation approaches and solutions for key societal challenges on local, regional and global levels and how these can create our common innovation future.   20200522_CSI_Game_Instructions_ISPIM

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The current global crisis is shaking up everyone. Everybody’s life and every business is affected. While most people are still overwhelmed by the speed and diversity of related news and countermeasures, for some theorists these reactions already prove mankind’s ability for radical change based on scientific anticipation, values of solidarity and a primacy of politics and multilateralism over short-lived interests. However, will it allow us to look beyond the day into our common future?  

The management view

Corporate managers are well aware from previous crises that new profits, but also heavy losses in market share, arise in phases of economic downturn, more so than in phases of growth. Most of them anticipate that many of these losses and gains will outlast the acute crisis situation, and that innovation is their best vaccination against such a crisis. Some suspect that today’s customer concerns and desires make tomorrow’s business models, and look for ways of their sustainability-oriented renewal.  

The customer view

Likewise, many customers take a crisis as a chance to review their routines, and to reflect upon what is important to them, what they are missing most during a lockdown, and what they care about in any case. Even though some individuals are seeking to turn back time and suspect evil forces behind the situation, many are dealing with the crisis creatively, as any crisis pushes our readiness to change and innovate.  

The social researcher's view

Social research points out that the resulting shifts in behaviour and values are tricky to detect. Close observation and well-informed interpretation are required to see how and why customers do what they do: Which previously weak signals now turn into mainstream? Which new behaviours and values emerge that lead to a depreciation of taken-for-granted routines and push the adoption of innovations? And which customer insights can be derived from what we have been missing most?  

Beyond the new normal

Most people are now striving to get back to what is called the “new normal”, and imagine it like the life before the crisis, just with a few acceptable handicaps. However, we need to get beyond just going back to get in touch with what we care about. Along with an increased readiness for change comes the risk of seeking innovation primarily in crisis management mode. Already managers and politicians are negotiating which types of (combustion, electric, hydrogen) car engine purchases should benefit from state funding to overcome the economic downturn due to the crisis – instead of clarifying a shared vision of sustainable mobility first. According insights (e.g. from Agora) and scenarios are already available. Such foresight might keep them from state funding of generic categories of economic actors (e.g. small versus mid-sized companies) and interest groups independent of their environmental performance. Based on this it would be easier to see that recovery plans for combustion engines are not the way forward, but that whole ecosystems involving new services, regional planning and infrastructures, legislation and tax models are crucial parts of the agenda. However, moving towards a desirable future, it may not suffice to meet minimal environmental requirements and thresholds. Instead, we should agree upon and strive for a positive impact in each industry and each firm.  

Advancing from coping to caring for our common future

The conference theme of values-based innovation and the headlines of the global innovation conferences – ISPIM 2020 (Innovating in Times of Crisis) and ISPIM 2021 in Berlin (Innovating Our Common Future) – indicate this shift in perspectives. They also point to a major challenge we are facing over the next few months: How to proceed from coping with the current crisis to caring for our common future. Accordingly, this question will guide closing panel this year (with Allen Alexander of University of Exeter, Joana Breidenbach of betterplace.org and Klaus Fichter of Oldenburg University & Borderstep Institute for Innovation and Sustainability). What distinguishes coping from caring? Would you agree to the following contrasting juxtapositions?   Actually, coping and caring are not either or, nor a sequence of activities – as this table may suggest. Instead, the ways in which we cope with crisis already reflects the ways we care for our future – the second perspective is just more comprehensive.  

Upcoming isses for innovators

Moving on from coping to caring, how can we include sustainability-oriented goals into normative directives for companies and economic stakeholders, and transfer them into domain specific challenges, goals and innovation projects to achieve? How can we succeed with new business models that foster sustainable development? How can we continuously assess related activities against our normative goals? And how should we engage the stakeholders (especially customer and employees) in the process? The upcoming conferences 2020 online and 2021 in Berlin (both co-hosted by UXBerlin) address these and related questions. We will be happy to have you join us!

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Within a new project, we help a new client of ours to understand jobseekers' challenges and views across the whole application process (from looking for potential employers, to creating a CV and cover letter, to interviewing) in different European countries. Our client is an online business that helps people to successfully find, apply and interview for jobs. From our empirical insights, we will derive recommendations to improve the customer experience and expanding our product offering of our client.

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Our latest Webinar on Values-Based Innovation Management: Concepts, Methods and Applications (by Prof. Dr. Henning Breuer & Prof. Dr. Florian Lüdeke-Freund) is now online.   The Webinar introduces the basic concepts, exemplary methods and practical applications of values-based innovation management. We show why innovation cannot be sufficiently understood and appropriately managed without addressing different stakeholder values. We explain the heuristic, directive and integrative function of values, and demonstrate their potential to drive innovation on different management levels. Through three recent consulting projects we illustrate applied methods to work with values on different management level:   - How to apply ethnographic research on customer values to frame and conduct ideation (operative management example from the digital economy). - How to model sustainability-oriented business based on a review of stakeholder values (strategic management example from workshops in the energy sector). - How to trigger innovation through redefining business vision, mission and purpose based on employee values (normative management example from the cleaning service industry).   Participants are invited to contribute their own experiences and examples and to propose new challenges that might be addressed with a values-based approach.

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A chapter in the book "Rethinking Strategic Management - Sustainable Strategizing for Positive Impact" by Henning Breuer and Florian Lüdeke-Freund points out new directions for strategic stakeholder management. This is the abstract: "Stakeholders have acquired an active and even pivotal role in strategic management decisions and collaboration formats due to ongoing substantial changes in the corporate world, impacting established management frameworks, concepts and methods. This chapter discusses some of these fundamental changes and demonstrates the impact of (missing) stakeholder engagement for the success of a strategy process. Based on the difference between interests and values a values-based reframing of the stakeholder concept and corresponding management methods is suggested and illustrated with exemplary cases. To support a values-based approach to stakeholder management, new conceptual distinctions and methodical implications are presented. Three forms of stakeholder management are proposed (defensive, integrative, overarching). Furthermore, this chapter shows how to clarify and develop stakeholder values (e.g. by means of ongoing values conversations) and exemplifies how to reframe and adapt methods of stakeholder analysis and management (e.g. as an element of values-based business modelling). A values-based approach to strategic stakeholder management ensures that the course of strategic decisions is not only determined by short-lived attitudes, interests and the best deal negotiators may get, but that it is driven by long-term objectives of diverse participants."

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