VM (Vicky) Brasseur: «How community building can help an organization's bottom line»


«Recently I've had several conversations with open source friends and colleagues, each discussion touching upon—but not directly focused on—the subject of why a company would/should/could support a community around a project it has released as free/open source, or more generally to support the communities of F/LOSS projects on which they rely. After the third one of these conversations I'd had in nearly as many weeks, I dusted off my freelance business consulting hat and started mapping out some of the business reasons why an organization might consider supporting communities.

»In this article, I'll look at community from a business perspective, including the effect community can have on an organization's bottom line. Although there are communities everywhere, I'll approach the topic—meaning, communities, their members, and their contributors—from a free/open source perspective. So please stick around, and maybe you'll learn ways to communicate the importance of community to your organization.

»(Also, be sure to check out my list of 16 resources for measuring open source community ROI.)

»What we mean when we talk about community

»First, let me explain what I mean by community. A community is a self-organized collection of people sharing a concern or interest. Although it's possible to build, grow, and manage a community, this concept of self-organization is important for providing and maintaining the vibrancy that comes with a strong community. Strong communities are composed of people who self-identify as members of the community, not those who are assigned or forced into it. Members may join or leave the community at will. The members of a community retain complete agency as to their initial and continued membership.

»Why would a person become a member of a community? Some will drop in to acquire help for a problem they're having, but merely dropping in does not necessarily mean a person identifies as a member of the community. Those who return, however, have at least started this self-identification process. Something they experienced on their initial visit convinced them that this is a group with which they'd like to continue to associate. Perhaps they return because of the social dynamics. Perhaps it's for the shared affinities and inspiring conversations.

»Perhaps it's for the friendships they are building. Whatever the reason, a community is similar to so many other things in life: First impressions matter. A community environment in which people do not feel heard, do not feel appreciated, and do not feel comfortable leads to the erosion of the trust and bonds that allow a community to thrive, in addition to increased ill-will toward those who ostensibly claim management over the community.

»Communities, fundamentally, are people. Typically the community "personality" is an amalgam of the personalities of the most prominent members. Thus, if the personality skews too far toward the negative, the community will develop a reputation as being negative and unhealthy. One role community manager(s) play is to help shape and guide the community's personality to build an environment that helps the community members meet their goals, and that benefits organizations that support it.

»Business benefits

»Why, though, would an organization invest resources in supporting and guiding a community? How does community-building help the bottom line? Measuring the ROI of community is tricky, but really no trickier than any other outbound communication effort your organization attempts. If you've ever tried measuring the impact of your organization's PR, outreach, branding, and advertising efforts, you know how difficult a task this can be. However, just because something is difficult doesn't mean it's not worth doing. Although measuring community support success is challenging, supporting a vibrant community can provide many benefits, both quantifiably and otherwise.

»A strong, engaged community gains your organization the holy grail of marketers everywhere: word of mouth marketing. The community you support will become your street team, spreading word of your organization and its projects to anyone who will listen. Additionally, an engaged community will provide the most on-time and in-depth market and competitive research. Community members become not only your staunchest defenders, but also a ready, willing, forthright, and costeffective focus group when the organization needs to try out new ideas. When you're out of new ideas, your community will be there as a resource to provide you with the inspiration and experience necessary to spark and potentially implement well-targeted and brilliant innovation, while also pointing you to new tools and best practices to bring that innovation to life more quickly. When that innovation does take off and your organization is looking to expand, the community it has supported provides a rich and passionate pool from which to recruit new team members, dramatically reducing the time and resources required not only to fill open positions, but also for onboarding once hired.

The community you support will become your street team, spreading word of your organization and its projects to anyone who will listen.

»If word of mouth marketing, market research, product focus groups, and a technical talent pool aren't enough for your organization, there are myriad other business benefits to supporting a vibrant community. For example, community members, having been involved in technical development, will likely be early adopters of your latest technology or solutions. The support community members provide each other not only leads to lower support costs for your organization, it can also lead to lower cost of ownership for the community and those who rely upon it for assistance. And if something does go wrong with your product, for example, an engaged community can provide higher goodwill, tolerance of errors, and public support and PR in times of crisis. Of course, this community support for your organization only lasts as long as your organization remains supportive of the community. The moment members of your community sense your organization is being disingenuous—and they will sense it, on that you can rely—they will rightfully drop support for your organization, and possibly expose it and all of its flaws.

»When considering the benefits of supporting a community, and the metrics for determining success, it's important to remember that most of these benefits require playing the long game. Trust is not earned overnight, and without the trust of the community, your organization is unlikely to reap the benefits of supporting and being a part of that community. Most discussions about metrics should be phrased in the context of months and years, rather than days and weeks. Give your program adequate time to get off the ground and start showing results before using those metrics to determine whether the effort is successful.


»Immense thanks to Stephen Walli and Josh Simmons for reviewing early drafts of these articles. Their feedback was invaluable. Any shortcomings in the articles are entirely of my own creation.


»16 resources for measuring open source community ROI

An innovation


Melanie May: «AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards open for entry»

Fundraising UK

«The AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards are now seeking entries for 2016.

»The awards recognise organisations and individuals who use digital technology to improve the lives of others and benefit their communities.

»Last year’s awards received over 200 entries, resulting in 27 finalists. This year there are seven categories, as well as three special awards. The awards are free to enter and open to any charity, business, individual, social enterprise, school, college, university or any other public body with a base in the UK.

»Entry is via the Tech4Good site and closes at 5pm on 6th May.

»The categories are:

»AbilityNet Accessibility Award: software, hardware or other digital innovation that transforms the lives of disabled people.

»BT MyDonate Fundraising Award: unique examples of how technology has helped people, charities and businesses with charitable fundraising.

»Community Impact Award: charities, businesses or individuals using digital technology to transform their community.

The awards are free to enter and open to any charity, business, individual, social enterprise, school, college, university or any other public body with a base in the UK.

»Digital Health Award: using computers, the internet and other digital technologies to deliver health and well-being to individuals or communities.

»Digital Skills Award: innovative ways of helping people of any age to acquire the skills they need for the digital age.

»IT Volunteer of the Year Award: celebrating individuals who use their digital skills to make a difference to the lives of others.

»Young Pioneer Award: for inspiring examples of how young people, under the age of 18, are using technology to meet a need or tackle a problem that they care about.

»The three special awards are:

»Tech4Good People’s Award.

»Judges’ Special Award.

»Winner of Winners Award.»

An innovator


David McNeill: «Japan’s demographic crisis drives development of ‘caring’ machines»

The Irish Times Business

«Robots may become more prevalent than immigrants in Japan, but can they be given ‘emotional engines’?

»Green-eyed, diminutive and chatty, Pepper takes a break from his tireless singing and dancing: “You guys seem to be foreigners – where are you from?” he asks.

»When we say we’re Irish he exclaims: “Gosh, Europe has so many interesting countries. I’d like to go there someday.”

»Okay, it’s not Shakespeare but then the Bard wasn’t a 28kg box of circuits and sensors gliding around on wheels. Pepper is the latest madein- Japan humanoid robot. Unlike most of them, he can have a half-decent conversation. He can even tell if you’re sad or tired.

»Telecom giant Softbank, which developed Pepper with Paris-based subsidiary Aldebaran, sells 1,000 of the pint-sized interactive charmers every month. Each new batch is instantly snapped up at a cost of about 200,000 yen (€1,600) a pop, claims Softbank spokesman Hiromitsu Yamashita. Some of the buyers are hotels and service businesses looking for a novelty to draw in punters, but most are ordinary – if fairly well-heeled – individuals, says Yamashita. That means that thousands of families are for the first time ever living with a robot.

»So has the future arrived? By 2040, predicts Softbank’s boss, Masayoshi Son, there will be more robots than people on the planet. Hiroshi Ishiguro, a professor at Osaka University and inventor of the Kodomoroid, a strangely lifelike android news anchor, says the industry is on the cusp of a revolution, similar to the take-up of smartphones and personal computers.

»Of course, something similar has been predicted for decades. Pepper is the latest upstart. Softbank’s innovation was to install its machine with an “emotional engine” – sensors and artificial intelligence that understand facial expressions, gestures and vocal tones. The company even had to recently warn customers not to perform sexual acts or “other indecent behaviour” with Pepper.

»For some, this is proof that we are nearing the day when pop-culture robots much like C3PO of Star Wars walk among us carbon-based mortals. In reality, Pepper is a pre-programmed toy that still struggles to achieve smooth interactivity. He stutters through most conversations with a string of misfires and non-sequiturs. And apart from entertaining children, it is not clear what he actually does around the house.

»‘Welfare’ robots

»Still, if robots become mainstream anywhere, it will probably be in Japan, which already has about a third of the world’s automated industrial machines and thousands of gifted engineers fuelled on science-fiction dreams. Many are working on so-called people pleasers: service and “welfare” robots that will, it is predicted, perform the menial tasks many of us shun.

»The robot drive has been given added impetus by Japan’s alarming demographics. Figures released this month show that the country’s population fell by nearly one million in the last five years. By 2060, the nation will have lost about 40 million people. The working population has already plummeted by 10 million over the last two decades, says Kosuke Motani, an economist at the Japan Research Institute, a think tank.

»Japan is one of the planet’s oldest societies, with a median age of 46.5 years. Only Monaco, with its large influx of elderly retirees, is more senior. Over the next decade, the number of over-75s in greater Tokyo alone will hit 5.7 million – greater than Ireland’s entire population. Who will look after all those elderly people?

»That’s a dilemma for the government of prime minister Shinzo Abe, who has raised eyebrows by pledging to raise GDP to a post-war high. Japan’s highest GDP was recorded in 1997 – with 10 million fewer workers. The gap can only be filled by introducing millions of immigrants, which Japan shows little sign of doing, or by enormously boosting productivity.

»Abe appears to be putting his faith in clever machines. His aim, he said recently, is “to spread the use of robotics from . . . factories to every corner of our economy and society.” In 2014, he inaugurated the Robot Revolution Realisation Council to loosen regulations on robot use and channel funding to development projects. By the end of the decade, Japan’s robotics market could be worth 2.4 trillion yen, he predicts.

»Professor Ishiguro believes his Kodomoroid is the wave of the future. Soon, he says, lifelike machines will read the news and perform countless other tasks; one of his most famous creations is a jerky mechanical doppelgänger that he says could one day deliver his lectures. “Students are not very demanding,” he says.

»Such once far-fetched predictions were given a shot in the arm in December by a report suggesting that robots and artificial intelligence could replace half of Japan’s working population within the next 10-20 years. Train and taxi drivers, security guards and receptionists are among the occupations set for the chop, said the Nomura Research Institute, a Japanese think tank. Such tasks, said the researchers, rely on systematic knowledge and require little creativity – surely news to thousands of Irish service workers.

Train and taxi drivers, security guards and receptionists are among the occupations set for the chop, said the Nomura Research Institute, a Japanese think tank.

»However, not everyone is convinced. Predictions of an enormous robotics impact on labour markets have been “made repeatedly for decades and we have yet to see something big happen in a very short timespan,” says Dr Kate Darling, research specialist at the MIT Media Lab in the US.

»Gradual, incremental development is much more likely, she forecasts.

»“Current technology is not close to being able to replace humans. Tasks as simple as opening a door are still very hard for robots, and the biggest challenge that we’re nowhere near being able to solve is robots that can adapt to unexpected situations. Robots can’t deal with things outside of very limited parameters.”

»Great tools

»Within those parameters, she says, they can be great tools; it is not hard to imagine autonomous cars, for example, replacing human drivers. But service and welfare jobs often require adaptability and skills “that we are not on the verge of seeing in robots,” says Darling. “What I can predict is that we will enter into a long phase where robots supplement human workers.”

»Even without the great leap forward, we are already surrounded by artificial intelligence technology, points out Kohtaro Ohba, who helps run the Robot Innovation Research Center at the government-funded National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. He cites the sensors, computers and actuators in cars, as one example. What such technology lacks, however, is feedback and two-way interaction. Could we eventually develop robots with the skills needed to look after elderly people? Ohba is sceptical.

»“My opinion is that humans should be cared for by humans.” But, he adds, most care workers have to pull away from their core tasks to do other jobs, such as cleaning and transportation. Such work should be done by robots, to improve the overall quality of human care services, he says.

»It may turn out that far from heralding a technology revolution, then, Pepper eventually joins the long line of expensive contrivances gathering dust in Japanese closets. Darling says such robots are useful in elderly and childcare situations only in the way that animal therapy is useful: as a supplement to human care.

»“I don’t see any social robotic technology in the near future that is a good replacement for humans. Replacing human care would require much better technology and require careful consideration of what aspects get lost in the process.” Still, she says, Japan is one of several countries that could be “prematurely” pushed into using robots, “in part out of necessity.” Otherwise, the nation’s choices are stark: find the magic cure for the country’s declining fertility, or open the drawbridge to millions of foreign workers.»

Public Administration and innovation


Newsletter L&I, n.º 97 (2016-03-28)

n.º 97 (2016-03-28)

Administração Pública e inovação | Administración Pública e innovación |
Administration Publique et innovation | Public Administration and innovation

Um inovador | Un innovador | Un innovateur | An innovator

Uma inovação | Una innovación | Une innovation | An innovation

A execução da inovaçao | La ejecución de la innovación | L’exécution de l’innovation |
The innovation execution


Liderar Inovando (BR)

«Seminário Tecnologia Tropical ITEP: Inocrowd Crowdsourcing de Inovação Aberta, um ponto de ruptura no modelo de inovação Brasileiro» ( ► )
«Agora você pode resolver problemas do mundo sem sair de casa. Entenda» ( ► )
«Feira capacita artesãos para Jogos Olímpicos no Rio» ( ► )
«Centro de inovação aberta da Unicamp completa um ano» ( ► )

Liderar Inovando (PT)

Sandra Salvado, Pedro A. Pina: «Inovação aberta à comunidade resolve problemas da NASA» ( ► )
António Bob Santos: «A dualização do tecido produtivo» ( ► )
Duarte Neiva Ferreira: «Marcelo inaugura um novo ciclo de
'Presidência Aberta'» ( ► )
«ICT2015: Inovação aberta, Ciência aberta e abertura ao mundo são as 3 prioridades do comissário Carlos Moedas» ( ► )

Liderar Innovando (ES)

«Presentan en la Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes modelo de innovación abierta asistida por computadora (UAA)» ( ► )
Jorge Medina: «Beneficios de la innovación abierta en las empresas» ( ► )
«Puertollano: Repsol apuesta por la innovación abierta para dar respuesta a los grandes retos de la energía» ( ► )
«Hasta 40.000 euros para proyectos que innoven en educación y economía. Cotec lanza su 'Programa de Innovación Abierta'» ( ► )

Mener avec Innovation (FR)

Hélène Quaniaux: «La Poste met le paquet sur l’open innovation avec 3 initiatives autour du partage de ses données» ( ► )
«Naturex: prépare l’avenir du marché des ingrédients» ( ► )
«La Banque Populaire Occitane lance un projet d'open innovation
avec la Mêlée» ( ► )
«Forum Crans Montan: La relation TIC-éducation débattue à Dakhla» ( ► )

Leadership and Innovation (EN)

«Namibia: Open Data Portal a Technical Enabler for Innovation and Growth» ( ► )
Steven Max Patterson: «Facebook’s Open Compute Project helps competitors build hyperscale data centers together» ( ► )
«Equate backs open innovation» ( ► )
«A National Open Innovation Strategy for Austria» ( ► )

Licencia Creative Commons Licencia Creative Commons
Atribución-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional


«Namibia: Open Data Portal a Technical Enabler for Innovation and Growth»

All Africa Global Media. New Era

«Eager to make access to information widely accessible, 23-year-old Amugongo Mbangula Lameck developed the first Namibian open data portal to work as a catalyst to facilitate the publication of more and higher quality data.

»The portal will serve as one-stop shop for all public data and will enable young people (innovators and entrepreneurs) to use the data by transforming it into applications that enhance service delivery and keep citizens informed, thus increasing accountability, transparency and citizen participation in the civic of affairs of our country.

»Lameck believes that although government statistics are crucial and important, open data is more than just statistics, as it includes a wide range of different datasets. He said openness has become the enabler for development, innovation and growth today and, therefore, if Namibia seeks efficiency in the delivery of services - both public and private - openness will be very crucial.

»In 2014 government adopted the e-governance strategic plan of the public service of Namibia 2014-2018, which outlines Namibia's plan to offer online government services. Furthermore, government has also signed an agreement with Estonian government to construct a secure data layer for governance.

»In order to compliment the work of government, NSA and other institutions, Lameck and his team - driven by a vision to make access to information a reality - started last year to design how their envisaged open data portal should look.

In order to compliment the work of government, NSA and other institutions, Lameck and his team - driven by a vision to make access to information a reality - started last year to design how their envisaged open data portal should look.

»"We faced a major challenge of funding. However, this didn't derail us from achieving our set objectives. We persevered until we were awarded a grant under the NCRST (National Commission on Research Science and Technology ) youth innovator call late 2015. Today, we're proud to inform the Namibian nation that the first version of the portal will be online soon, to be launched in the first quarter of 2016," Lameck said.

»The open data portal includes two major components: content management system (CMS) and data catalogue. CMS will be mostly used to manage modification and publishing of content. The data catalogue describes the metadata, which makes it easier to understand the data.

»What's sets the portal apart from the rest is that citizens would be able to become data collectors. For example, a person in Uis or Oshakati can use their smart citizen kits to collect weather data in their respective area. Through an API they can make this data available on the portal by uploading it. In terms of security, a secure channel is also being developed to ensure secure communication and transfer of data. Once the portal is up and running, it will send a strong message that Namibia has the capacity to develop state-of-the-art technological infrastructure.

»"We hope to partner with government ministries, agencies and institutions through the Office of the Prime Minister and also private institutions to make their data and services accessible to all Namibians. Moreover, in this digital era where information has become the most valuable asset, it's important to break down the digital divide and ensure that "No Namibian is left out" and that every citizen from Ehenye to Vaalgras, from Otjimbingwe to Aranos can access crucial services from anywhere in Namibia using their mobile devices," he said.

»Once launched, citizens can use the data on the portal to keep themselves and their communities informed, as well as to start businesses.

»Besides the portal, Lameck is also currently experimenting and researching ways to leverage open and big data to help our cities, towns and villages manage their affairs in an open, efficient and effective way. "This will be our focus for 2016, harvesting the low hanging fruits from open data.

»"The second open data innovation hackathon we'll be hosting together with the Namibia Business Innovation Institute in early March aims to co-create together solutions to improve the lives of ordinary Namibians, especially those who are excluded," said Lameck.

»Lameck is a computer science student, currently pursuing a Masters degree with a specific research interest in open data, open innovation and emerging technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Information Technology degree, specialising in Software Engineering and an Honours degree in Computer Science: Software development.

»He represented Namibia at the International Youth Forum in, Russia in 2014. As a young researcher he has published a paper entitled "Increasing Open data awareness and consumption in Namibia: A hackathon approach", which was published at the 13th Culture and Computer Science Conference in May 2015.

»Two more of his academic papers are to be published in March, entitled "Leveraging open data to solve city challenges: A case study of Windhoek Municipality" and "Open Data Portal, a Technical Enabler to Drive Innovation in Namibia".»

The innovation execution


Steven Max Patterson: «Facebook’s Open Compute Project helps competitors build hyperscale data centers together»

Network World

«Facebook’s open source hardware development and procurement strategy grows with new competitors and new industries.

»The conversion from free to paid registration and a spike in Open Compute Project Summit keynote attendance signaled that open hardware innovation is trending up. Summit attendees are companies like Facebook that buy land, build big data center buildings and fill them with commodity computing and networking hardware. Their mission is to build hyperscale, hyperefficient infrastructure that is flexible in handling workloads and agile in delivering new services in minutes.

»Jason Taylor, OCP CEO, introduced Google’s Vice President of Infrastructure Urz Hölz as a surprise last OCP Summit keynote with Apple-like “wait there’s still more” showmanship. Hölz presented his team's open source hardware submissions, a new approach to powering the ocean of servers used in hyperscale web company data centers operated by Facebook and Google at a more power efficient 45V instead of 12V and a new rack design.

»Hölz’s appearance represented old-fashioned Silicon Valley coopetition. Silicon Valley competitors have a long history of coopetition like this. Google and Facebook compete vehemently for mobile advertising revenues on the frontend but cooperate on the backend to improve data center efficiency.

»Even bigger than Hölz and Google joining the OCP founded by Facebook, is the coopetition between competitors representing the financial services and telecom industries. Financial services were the first industry after the hyperscale web companies to identify infrastructure operations as a critical core competency. Goldman Sachs, Fidelity and Bank of America that compete on the front end for investors, depositors and loans collaborate through the OCP to build more efficient backend data centers.

»Recent new additions to the OCP roster, monolithic telecom competitors, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom parent of T-Mobile and Verizon joined with the intention to collaborate with each other even though they are direct competitors. Network virtualization, automation, and cloud computing on the network edge are perquisites for the applications that will drive the next generation of 5G wireless. The telecoms don’t believe they can buy it from their traditional vendors or build it themselves without the cooperation of their competitors.

Network virtualization, automation, and cloud computing on the network edge are perquisites for the applications that will drive the next generation of 5G wireless. The telecoms don’t believe they can buy it from their traditional vendors or build it themselves without the cooperation of their competitors.

»“Without the OCP umbrella it would be nearly impossible for competitors to hammer out legal agreements for individual collaborations,” said Taylor who is also Facebook’s vice president of infrastructure. OCP produces less friction and more speed and agility for open innovation between competitors within an industry.

»Open source and open innovation has changed everything including hardware. The OCP is the manifestation of these trends in hardware. The OCP Summit is a traditional hardware conference where the conversation focuses on greater capacity, faster speeds, greener energy consumption and lower cost. But it’s also very different; instead of the manufacturers setting the pace of innovation, the OCP customers establish the metrics of innovation based on their own projected needs for increases in speeds and capacities and reductions in energy and cost.

»The scale that these data centers operate at is so large that the consumer and many enterprise IT professionals can’t relate. For instance, Facebook is deploying 100GB optical Ethernet in some data centers later this year and will convert all its data centers to 100GB in 2017 while it investigates how to build the next bump to 400GB within the OCP. And, Intel and Facebook codeveloped a next-generation data center storage architecture that pools 120 Terabytes of high-speed NVM Express solid-state drives into a single 2U (19" x 3.5" x 24") enclosure.

»The influence of open source software on the OCP hardware can’t be overstated. It extends beyond and below the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) stack that software developers use. A good example is an open source project that layers RocksDB write optimized database project on top of MYSQL data stores so that Replication and other familiar tools can be used.

»Another is a set of open source libraries that Intel produced for programming Arria 10 GX FPGA. The FPGAs accelerate functions like encryption and compression can be added to data center motherboards. Running this code on FPGA hardware increases its performance. FPGAs can be reprogrammed as algorithms improve allowing critical hardware functions to evolve with the underlying open source projects specific to hyperscale applications.

»OCP’s progress in data centers became clear in light of the statements of the new members from the telecom industry, just getting started with open hardware innovation who want the same results for implementing the next generation of 5G wireless.

»Verizon Senior Vice President Mahmoud El-Assir Verizon said that networking up to now has been about speed and running different protocols for data, voice and video. Today’s networks are created with one box that contains software, hardware and networking. To change the network you need to change the box. Disaggreating the building blocks into hardware, software and networks into a virtualized cloud computing network will change how networks are built and provisioned. It will let telecom operators script the network to create virtual customer premise equipment (CPE) using automation capabilities that do not exist in today’s networks. With 5G and virtualization, networks will become flexible and agile in running application like Facebook’s and Google’s data centers.

»Even though El-Assir says that 5G will be 50X the speed of 4G with single digit latency the G doesn’t stand for Gigabits and 5G networks will be much more valuable with cloud computing at the edge of the networks. Representatives from AT&T, Deutsche Telekom and South Korea’s SK Telecom all shared similar perspectives on 5G.

»SK Telecom’s Vice Presient of R&D Kangwon Lee also sees open hardware innovation as a critical technical and operational component in the transition to 5G because a lot of different types of traffic will connect through the network such as the IoT, connected cars and virtual and augmented reality. Without open hardware innovation and virtualization it will be very difficult to setup networks that have very different quality of service (QoS) requirements without a virtual white-box approach. SK Telecom’s telco-engineering model of network deployment is very physically intensive. To scale the 5G network Lee said it will take a software engineering approach.»

An innovation


«Equate backs open innovation»

gdnonline.com. TradeArabia News Service

«Equate Petrochemical Company will support open innovation by its employees, as well as other individuals and organisations, provided that such initiatives are relevant to its field of business, a senior company official said at a recent event. Equate president and CEO Mohammad Husain was speaking at the 3rd Research & Innovation (R&I) Summit 2016 organised by the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) to promote excellence in research and development (R&D).

»The event was held under the theme ‘Managing R&D during Difficult Times: Creating Global Competitiveness’, and it gathered top executives from petrochemical and chemical companies, as well as government bodies and other entities to discuss various topics regarding R&D and innovation.

»Husain, said: “Innovation has become a critical element for sustainability, not merely an expression or set of guidelines.”

»“Through innovation, our industry can maintain its global competitiveness especially in terms of contributing to economies around the world. Naturally, innovation relies greatly on progressive R&D that realises milestones for the benefit of humanity through industrial growth. With global spending on petrochemical and chemical R&D reaching nearly $530 million in 2014, progressive open innovation in this field is a strategic objective for our industry,” he said.

Through innovation, our industry can maintain its global competitiveness especially in terms of contributing to economies around the world.

»In addition to Husain, Equate was represented at the summit by R&D leader Arif Al-Qattan and innovation programme leader Abdulrahman Al-Munyaes.

»As part of its participation in the summit, the company sponsored a professor and students from the College of Engineering & Petroleum at Kuwait University to attend the event and interact with other delegates.

»The college is represented by faculty member from the Department of Chemical engineering Dr Abdulwahab Al-Musallam, as well as the students, Bader Al-Nashmy, Yousef Al Shamlan and Mohammad Al-Ajmi.

»The company’s sponsorship of the professor and the students for this event and other previous GPCA activities is part of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with the college during 2008 for overall partnership and cooperation in industrial and academic fields.

»Husain further said: “The summit is truly an opportunity for our stakeholders to encourage open innovation through applying ‘Partners in Success’ by the association, its members, academic bodies, other organisations and individuals from various countries.”

»“Addressing innovation’s challenges, fundamental for innovation, as well as emphasising the role of end-to-end collaboration between academic bodies, institutions and companies are emphasised by the summit to facilitate fostering and nurturing innovation-oriented cultures,” he concluded.»

An innovator


«A National Open Innovation Strategy for Austria»

Anne Swanson. Innovation Excellence

«On Monday 18th January 2016, the Austrian Federal Ministeries BMVIT, BMWFW and Austrian Council (RFTE) together with winnovation hosted an Open Innovation Strategy Stakeholder Workshop as an important first step in gaining feedback and ideas from Austrian society for the development of a new Open Innovation Strategy for Austria (www.openinnovation.gv.at), a first of its kind globally.

»Bellow you can read more about this initiative: “This process, strongly supported by State Secretary Mahrer, began during summer 2015 after a successful scoping report initiated by the Julius Raab Stiftung and supported by winnovation led to discussions around the possibility that citizens could make contributions online towards the development of a new national Open Innovation Strategy for Austria. In fall 2016, work began to analyse the current state of play within the Austrian innovation system in parallel with an international analysis of leading countries around the world with respect to their innovation activities.

»After publicly announcing the initiative and providing a platform for citizens to leave thoughts and comments, the Stakeholder Workshop was designed to capture the insights, needs and wishes of Austrian Society across a number of areas highlighted as starting points upon which to develop measures. 413 participants, representing the economic sector, policy, science and civil society, participated in the workshop.

»Mr. Christoph Leitl, President of Wirtschaftskammer Österreich (WKÖ), Mr. Hannes Androsch, Austrian Council for Research and Technology Development (RFTE), Mr. Alois Stöger, Federal Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT) (via video) and Mr. Harald Mahrer, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Science, Research and Industry provided opening remarks, highlighting the importance of implementing such a strategy given Austria’s position has fallen within international innovation rankings in recent years, and that the development of this new Open Innovation Strategy is a crucial step for Austria in becoming an innovation leader internationally.

Austria’s position has fallen within international innovation rankings in recent years, and the development of this new Open Innovation Strategy is a crucial step for Austria in becoming an innovation leader internationally.

»We are particularly proud of our very own CEO, Mrs. Gertraud Leimueller who delivered a keynote speech focusing on the importance of Open Innovation throughout history in different sectors of society, the benefits of Open Innovation, and how Austria could implement Open Innovation across society to achieve great advantages nationally and within the global arena, which was well received by participants.

»Various scenarios set with a vision of how the innovation system in Austria could look like in 2030 were posed to participants in order to enable a vision of the future for Austria within a more realistic and achievable time frame.

»Participants were happy to have the opportunity to contribute to the process and were enthusiastically engaged during the breakout sessions, with many useful ideas and comments captured during the sessions.

»Encouraging creativity during the school years and beyond, reducing the fear of experimenting, solving issues associated with IPR and finding appropriate ways to compensate user participation and crowdsourcing were some topics highlighted during the expert panel discussions that took place after the breakout sessions.

»As a result of this rich data capture from participants, a reworking of the scenarios and proposed measures will take place in order to present a first draft of the strategy, which will be placed online for public consultation at the beginning of February 2016.

»The final Open Innovation Strategy document should go to parliament by Summer 2016.

»Here is the link where you can find the videos from this workshop and other information, in German only; http://openinnovation.gv.at/rueckblick-workshop/»

Public Administration and innovation


Newsletter L&I, n.º 96 (2016-03-21)

n.º 96 (2016-03-21)

Administração Pública e inovação | Administración Pública e innovación |
Administration Publique et innovation | Public Administration and innovation

Um inovador | Un innovador | Un innovateur | An innovator

Uma inovação | Una innovación | Une innovation | An innovation

A execução da inovaçao | La ejecución de la innovación | L’exécution de l’innovation |
The innovation execution


Liderar Inovando (BR)

«“Burocracia impede que escolas mudem”, diz idealizador
da Escola da Ponte» ( ► )
«Moda inclusiva premia estudante do Senai. Aluno ganhou estágio em empresa de tecidos após desenvolver vestidos para anãs» ( ► )
«Tico Santa Cruz vem a Fortaleza para falar sobre extermínio da
juventude negra» ( ► )
Zhang Weiying: «Inovação e liberdade são os maiores problemas
da China» ( ► )

Liderar Inovando (PT)

«Ovar: Polo de Capacitação e Inovação Social em fase de conclusão» ( ► )
«Fundação Montepio celebra 20 anos a falar da economia social» ( ► )
Vitor Pereira (@conteudochave): «A base de uma “Smart City”» ( ► )
«Green Project Awards Portugal abre candidaturas para a 9ª edição» ( ► )

Liderar Innovando (ES)

Roberto Villegas Flores: «Innovación social como punto de
encuentro territorial» ( ► )
Maira Cabrini (@MairaCabrini): «Innovación social: 5 ideas que hacen frente a la crisis de refugiados» ( ► )
«BIM, economía circular e innovación social, en la próxima
BBB-Construmat» ( ► )
«La innovación social, un elemento esencial en la estrategia de
SUEZ Water Spain» ( ► )

Mener avec Innovation (FR)

«Plusieurs villes du 95 primées pour l’innovation sociale» ( ► )
Benoît Georges (@bengeorges): «Quand l’innovation sociale est payante pour l’entreprise» ( ► )
«L’innovation sociale à l’honneur en 2015» ( ► )
«Un nouveau projet de recherche pour le Centre d’innovation sociale en agriculture» ( ► )

Leadership and Innovation (EN)

«Is Japan ready for social innovation?». Conversation with
Kanji Tanimoto ( ► )
«Crowdsourced Map Uncovers Social Innovation in Austin» ( ► )
«What is Shared Value?» ( ► )
«Hitachi Announces Jack Domme to Drive Social Innovation Business and Extend Its Lead in IoT» ( ► )

Licencia Creative Commons Licencia Creative Commons
Atribución-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional


«Hitachi Announces Jack Domme to Drive Social Innovation Business and Extend Its Lead in IoT»


«Ryuichi Otsuki Succeeds Domme as CEO of Hitachi Data Systems.

»Hitachi Data Systems Corporation (HDS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE: 6501), today announced that Jack Domme will lead Hitachi's Social Innovation business in the Americas reporting directly to Hitachi, Ltd. President and CEO, Toshiaki Higashihara. In this role, he will focus on accelerating Hitachi's Social Innovation business, primarily in the areas of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the development of smart cities. To focus on his new role, Domme will be leaving his position as CEO of Hitachi Data Systems.

»Domme served for seven years as CEO of HDS, where he led the transformation of Hitachi Data Systems from a storage provider into an information solutions company. He was appointed to this new role because he has demonstrated the ability to lead global transformation, execute on a long-term strategic plan, and outpace the market in revenue growth. Hitachi's Social Innovation business opportunity is the unifying strategy that brings together the power and breadth of the entire Hitachi, Ltd. group to deliver IoT and smart city solutions.

Domme served for seven years as CEO of HDS, where he led the transformation of Hitachi Data Systems from a storage provider into an information solutions company.

»Domme has been named Chairman and CEO and a member of the Board of Hitachi Information and Telecommunications Systems Global Holdings Corporation (HIGH). In this role, he will be responsible for enhancing collaboration between Hitachi Consulting (HCC), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), and other Hitachi Group companies in supporting the achievement of the Hitachi Social Innovation strategy for the Americas region and beyond. He will continue as Vice President and Executive Officer of Hitachi, Ltd., as well as Chief Executive of the Americas.

»“There has been no greater or more transformational opportunity for Hitachi than Social Innovation,” said Domme. “Hitachi is not only a pioneer in the development of smart cities and the Internet of Things, but we also have a unique ability to deliver on the promise of each. No other company in the world has both the industrial and operational expertise, along with decades-long leadership in information technology. And those are exactly the elements required to be a leader in this market. I am very excited and humbled by the opportunity to help lead Hitachi through this next major transformation.”

»Ryuichi Otsuki will succeed Domme as CEO of Hitachi Data Systems. Otsuki joins HDS from his role as Vice President and Executive officer, General Manager of Social Innovation Business Promotion Division and Deputy General Manager of Corporate Sales & Marketing Group at Hitachi, Ltd. Otsuki joined the HDS board in 2009 and has been instrumental in the development of HDS' long-term strategy to expand its portfolio in the areas of infrastructure, content and analytics linking to Hitachi's Social Innovation vision -- making the Internet of Things that matter a reality.

»“Social Innovation is the most significant initiative Hitachi has undertaken in its 106-year history,” said Otsuki. “We are transforming businesses and societies to deliver better outcomes for people around the world, and Hitachi Data Systems is instrumental to Hitachi delivering on this strategy. I want to thank Jack and his team for positioning this company so well for further success, and I look forward to working closely with him in his new role to continue to grow HDS and our global Social Innovation business.”

»These new executive appointments will be effective April 1, 2016.

»About Hitachi Data Systems

»Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., builds information management and Social Innovation solutions that help businesses succeed and societies be safer, healthier and smarter. We focus on big data that offers real value -- what we call the Internet of Things that matter. Our IT infrastructure, analytics, content and cloud solutions and services drive strategic management and analysis of the world's data. Only Hitachi Data Systems integrates the best information technology and operational technology from across the Hitachi family of companies to deliver the exceptional insight that business and society need to transform and thrive. Visit us at HDS.com.

»About Hitachi, Ltd.

»Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE: 6501), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, delivers innovations that answer society's challenges with our talented team and proven experience in global markets. The company's consolidated revenues for fiscal 2014 (ended March 31, 2015) totaled 9,761 billion yen ($81.3 billion). Hitachi is focusing more than ever on the Social Innovation Business, which includes power & infrastructure systems, information & telecommunication systems, construction machinery, high functional materials & components, automotive systems, healthcare and others. For more information, please visit the company's website at http://www.hitachi.com.

»HITACHI is a trademark or registered trademark of Hitachi, Ltd. All other trademarks, service marks and company names are properties of their respective owners.»

The innovation execution


«What is Shared Value?»

Shared Value Initiative

«Shared value is a management strategy focused on companies creating measurable business value by identifying and addressing social problems that intersect with their business. The shared value framework creates new opportunities for companies, civil society organizations, and governments to leverage the power of market-based competition in addressing social problems.

»The concept was defined in the Harvard Business Review article “Creating Shared Value” (January/February 2011), by Professor Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer. The authors identified three ways in which shared value can be created:

»Reconceiving products and markets – Defining markets in terms of unmet needs or social ills and developing profitable products or services that remedy these conditions.

»Example: BD developed a new type of safety syringe to reduce healthcare worker needle-stick injuries. This product innovation grew to $2 billion, approximately a quarter of the company’s revenue. (Read the BD case study.)

»Redefining productivity in the value chain – Increasing the productivity of the company or its suppliers by addressing the social and environmental constraints in its value chain.

»Example: By reducing packaging and improving delivery logistics, Walmart saved $200M in distribution costs while growing the quantities being shipped. (Learn more about Walmart's shared value commitments.)

»Local cluster development – Strengthening the competitive context in key regions where the company operates in ways that contribute to the company’s growth and productivity.

»Example: Cisco reduced a key constraint to growing its addressable server market by launching the Networking Academy to train over four million network administrators globally. (Read the case example on Cisco's Networking Academy.)

»Shared value is not about redistributing value created through philanthropy or about including stakeholders’ values in corporate decisions. Rather, shared value focuses on the creation of meaningful economic and social value – new benefits that exceed the costs for the business and society.

Shared value is not about redistributing value created through philanthropy or about including stakeholders’ values in corporate decisions. Rather, shared value focuses on the creation of meaningful economic and social value – new benefits that exceed the costs for the business and society.

»The Shared Value framework defines a new role for business in society that goes beyond traditional models of corporate social responsibility. Rather than focus on mitigating harm in the company’s existing operations, shared value strategies engage the scale and innovation of companies to advance social progress. At the same time, shared value offers new ways for other societal actors to engage with corporations in delivering social impact:

»NGOs can evolve their strategic priorities in order to more effectively partner with companies on shared value strategies

»Philanthropic and government bodies can find new ways to incentivize private sector investment in solving pressing social issues

»Investors can gain insight into companies’ future growth and profit potential by understanding how shared value strategies address social issues that directly impact performance

»Individual practitioners, academics, and students around the world can deepen the understanding and application of shared value within their companies, social enterprises, and academic institutions

»While shared value is still early in the adoption cycle, the approach has been embraced by many of the world’s most respected companies, to address social problems at scale as a core part of their corporate strategies.»

An innovation


«Crowdsourced Map Uncovers Social Innovation in Austin»

UTNews – The University of Texas at Austin.

«As social entrepreneurs and impact investors descend on Austin for South by Southwest’s SXGood programming, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin’s RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service are launching a map that allows visitors to easily find the city’s social innovators. A collaboration with social enterprise accelerator UnLtd USA, the map displays key organizations and players in the sector and the relationships that connect them.

»The Austin Social Innovation Ecosystem Map is a crowdsourced social network map of actors and stakeholders addressing social issues through innovation and entrepreneurship.

»The map was created with initial data from UnLtd USA and enhanced by Mark Clayton Hand, a UT Austin adjunct assistant professor of social entrepreneurship, and lecturer Clare Zutz. It displays people and organizations as nodes connected by ties representing relationships such as employment or affiliation, investments and donations. Users can contribute information about their own organizations and then interact with the visualization to filter, focus and cluster data shared by others.

»“Because Austin’s social innovation ecosystem is just emerging, its culture and norms are still being formed,” said Zoe Schlag, executive director of UnLtd USA, which offers seed funding and venture support to entrepreneurs tackling social and environmental problems. “Creating a more transparent ecosystem will be advantageous to both Austin social entrepreneurs and impact investors by accelerating the impact they want to have.”

»Rather than limiting contributors to the map, Hand and Zutz invite all individuals and organizations who self-identify as social innovators to participate.

»“There are so many nonprofits and for-profit companies in Austin doing great work,” said Hand. “We see it as our role to connect as many of them as possible.

“There are so many nonprofits and for-profit companies in Austin doing great work,” said Hand. “We see it as our role to connect as many of them as possible.

»We also anticipate that it will inspire new donors and investors to engage, as they see the array of activity in Austin.”

»“Austin’s thriving entrepreneur and nonprofit communities are coming together more and more to advance the public good,” said LBJ School of Public Affairs Dean Angela Evans. “The LBJ School’s location amidst the university’s expansive network of support for student entrepreneurs affords us the opportunity to play a critical role in transforming the next generation of social innovators.”

»“Our students are driven by the promise and potential that comes with solving social problems in new and innovative ways,” said RGK Center Director David W. Springer. “This important research is part of our larger initiative to serve as a pipeline for young professionals seeking careers in this space.”

»The RGK Center anticipates the project will inform research regarding social innovation in Austin and the application of crowdsourcing as a method for social network analysis. Zutz will analyze the data collected and present findings at this year’s International Network for Social Network Analysis conference in April.»

An innovator


«Is Japan ready for social innovation?». Conversation with Kanji Tanimoto

Annabelle Landry. Japan Today

«In recent years, “social entrepreneurship,” “social innovation” and “sustainability” have found their way into the mainstream lexicon of Japanese business circles. Picking up the trend, the Japanese Forum of Business and Society (JFBS) held its 5th annual conference last September at Waseda University under the theme “Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Innovation.”

»Presided by Kanji Tanimoto, Professor at Waseda University’s School of Commerce, JFBS is an academic association and research/discussion platform on the relationship between business and society, with a focus on current global trends, issues and challenges. The conference featured topics ranging from social entrepreneurship and sustainable/social innovation, to intrapreneurship, innovation management and partnership among sectors.

»Professor Tanimoto, JFBS’s president and guest editor for this year’s call for papers, tells us about the organization, its activities and the growing – albeit slowly - social innovation trend in Japan.

»What is JFBS’s mandate and who are its members?

»The Japanese Forum of Business and Society is a very unusual platform for Japan. It comprises about 200 members, 55% of whom are scholars and 48% practitioners. JFBS aims to bring together people from the academic, public and private sectors, as well as unions and NPOs/NGOs, to discuss current global and national social issues. In addition to our symposia, we organise regular lectures delivered by keynote speakers from abroad and the Japanese business community.

»Emerald Group Publishing is currently advertising a call for papers (open until March 31) on the theme “Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Innovation.” What is the link between JFBS and this global publisher?

»JFBS garners much attention from international businesses and organizations having an interest in our conference topics. A few years ago, the editors in chief at Green Leaf Publishing and Emerald Group Publishing contacted me to see if they could join our conference on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Corporate Governance. In 2014, Green Leaf published a special issue on the “Japanese Approaches to CSR” in its Journal of Corporate Citizenship, and this year, Emerald Group’s Journal of Corporate Governance: The International Journal of Business in Society is going to feature a special issue on “Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Innovation.” Our winning papers have appeared in both journals, as well as in JFBS Annals.

»As Emerald Group Publishing’s guest editor, what are the key elements you are looking for in a candidate’s research paper?

»Typically, research papers have focused on the business side of things. For instance, it’s easy for iPads and iPhones to cross borders, but not so much for new ideas. So we need not only think about how entrepreneurs can generate new ideas and create innovation, but how they can diffuse and disseminate innovation. “Diffusability” is particularly important. As such, collaboration with stakeholders must be encouraged through creative diffusion processes. Also, for ideas - Western or other - to be successfully implemented in Japan, one must take into account the differences in culture, social structure and capital, government authority, etc. For instance, Tohoku has a social structure that’s different from the rest of Japan, and new ideas from Kansai may not be easily implemented in Tohoku. What we need is to get people to accept the spirit of these ideas and the implementation of new systems in their areas. In this regard, we need not only look at entrepreneurship as the act of starting and operating a business, but as an engine for growth, adaptability and diffusion of novel ideas.

»How would you define sustainable innovation?

»Sustainable innovation can be defined as both “a new technology and business scheme contributing to sustainable development while providing social and economic results. A good example of this is the need for Japan to enforce its environmental laws so as to help reduce exploitation of unsustainable timber in East Asia - we often have little information about and no control over supply chains. So company executives, human resources must be further sensitized. Sadly, with each report, more details about social and environmental malpractices of Japanese companies are disclosed. Also, on a more national level, Japan must tackle its problem of increasing poverty.

»Can you give us examples of sustainable innovation initiatives that were successfully implemented in Japan?

»Japan has had a bad history of environmental pollution. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the government implemented strict regulations. More recently, many companies are able to tackle this far beyond compliance by means of hard technology. Hybrid cars, mega-solars, windmills and BIOPI (Plant biology and innovation) are all examples of Japanese hard tech initiatives. Now, what we need is innovative soft tech solutions to tackle social issues such as poverty, gender equality, etc. This is in line with the UNDP’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—the Millennium Development Goals’ successors (MDGs): Ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring equality and justice for all. The problem is, not many people understand this. The role of the private sector has been emphasized to develop new technology and so, when it comes to innovation, Japan still lacks the “social” part of it. CEOs don’t really pay attention to management issues, for instance.

»What’s impeding the implementation of social initiatives within Japanese organizations?

»The communication and decision-making system, which makes up the core culture, is a major problem. In most Japanese companies, boards of directors are made up of 8-9 out of 10 “oji-san tachi” (middle-aged and older Japanese men). Japan is still closed off. There are no foreigners – and very few women- on these boards, even when they are working for the same companies. The core stakeholders have enjoyed the nice fruit of Japan’s great economic success but the others have not been treated as equals. Historically, every time the government has tried implementing soft regulations, like the Equal Employment Opportunity Law, for instance, opposition has been fierce. Not so many companies raised their hand to get a reward because they must disclose the number of women they are hiring and promoting to higher ranks. Clearly, diversity in management levels must be further encouraged, and peripheral stakeholders - handicapped, immigrants and women, for instance - must be included. Having said that, we do have a few exceptional companies that employ and provide equal opportunities for people who have experienced the outside business world, but it’s not a majority.

»In what ways can Japanese companies leverage sustainability as a driver for social innovation?

»The truth is, in Japan, company CEOs are not very big drivers for social innovation. In North America, Europe and the UK, there are many initiatives to help find and promote sustainable solutions. A good example is The Big Issue, a UK monthly publication that employs homeless people and pays them to sell its magazines as a way to earn money (rather than begging). It’s a good social business model: Half of the profits go to the office and half to the homeless. In the U.S., companies like Give Something Back have a similar business scheme. We’re only just starting to see more of these kinds of initiatives here in Japan.

»Is Japan ready for social entrepreneurship?

»Social entrepreneurship was a new buzzword in Japan when it entered the corporate jargon back in 2000, which was a stagnant economic period. Traditionally, entrepreneurs are not so well respected in this country - according to the OECD, Japan has one of the lowest rates of start-ups in the world.

Social entrepreneurship was a new buzzword in Japan when it entered the corporate jargon back in 2000, which was a stagnant economic period. Traditionally, entrepreneurs are not so well respected in this country - according to the OECD, Japan has one of the lowest rates of start-ups in the world.

»Social entrepreneurs must provide economic performance as well as social performance, which is not an easy task. Younger generations are not so inclined on becoming entrepreneurs: They lack the drive and energy required to start a new business. Compared with the elderly who are held in great respect, the youth don’t have so many opportunities to start a new business or get a bank loan. Most graduates still prefer to enter big companies because they want good jobs and lifetime employment. They also want to be guaranteed a certain social status. And this is supported and encouraged by the entire family. But that’s gradually changing.

»How can the youth be further encouraged to pursue their own venture as social entrepreneurs?

»A lot of university students come from wealthy families, so they don’t fully understand social issues such as poverty, for instance. But to see it first-hand is much more susceptible to change their perceptions. What’s more, they are often not willing to go abroad by themselves. So, mixing our MBA students or dispatch them to other countries on international exchanges is very important. We also, as a nation, must allow for greater acceptance of risk.

»How do you foresee the evolution of the Japanese current business model?

»During the post-World War II miracle boom, there was no talk of gender equality and gender diversity, for instance. The ensuing “lost decades,” however, have facilitated the discussion about social issues. And it’s only recently that we’ve entered plenary discussions to implement social innovation in Japan. The U.S. and Europe have been promoting sustainable development and innovation for a long time, but Japan has been slow to catch on. Corporations have an important role to play; though government, academia, NGOs and the private sector need to create more partnerships and set new platforms.

»In your opinion, what can be done to foster cultural and structural change within the Japanese corporate world?

»To be honest, we haven’t see much change in the past decade. Social issues are immature in Japan, and the country lacks the Western culture of criticism – the Japanese prefer to solve issues in a positive and peaceful way. We need more civil and social organizations. Currently, there aren’t enough advocacy NGOs in Japan, and very few advocacy or public proposals. The Japanese lack the experience to criticize stakeholders, including labor unions. To foster change within the Japanese corporate world, we need to engage in wide-ranging social discussion in Japan. And international pressure from NGOs and Western countries would be effective. We cannot expect a miracle to drastically change the mindsets in just a few years.

»Could intrapreneurship help mothers with an entrepreneurial mind re-enter the workplace after giving birth?

»Intrapreneurship would be advantageous for anyone interested in contributing innovative ideas to their company. It would also benefit the company itself. New blood means new ideas. When you have the same group of people trying to find novel ideas, it always end up being the same ideas. Unfortunately, intrapreneurship would be hard to implement, as there is no clear description of positions, and the Japanese always work in small teams. Everyone’s job depends on everyone else’s. Work productivity is low (the Germans have a productivity rate that is 1.5 times higher than that of the Japanese). Moreover, there aren’t many support programs for women (maternity leave, day care centers) within the companies, and not many people make use of their paid holidays. Delegation of power is difficult; it’s a male ego thing… the need for control, authority. The way Japanese work, how they evaluate performance and the workplace culture, these have yet to change.

»As professor and president of JFBS, what is your personal mission with regard to the promotion of social innovation in Japan?

»To inspire younger generations to “cross the border” -geographically and psychologically. I also wish to educate CEOs, as it falls upon them to create a tipping point for change in the workplace culture. At JFBS, we try and organize symposia to spark discussions between business people and scholars in Japan and the rest of the world. Unfortunately, many Japanese CEOs appear reluctant to come to our events as they are mainly conducted in English. And big global companies don’t have that many employees who can speak English.

»JFBS’s next conference is scheduled to take place Sept 8-9, under the new theme “Marketing and Social Change.” For more information, visit JFBS’s official website at http://j-fbs.jp.»

Public Administration and innovation