The progress economy is about fixing the challenges I’ve personally experienced – issues with innovation approaches not making a real change (growth and sustainability wise).

I’ve been a Chief Innovation Officer and can claim both success and failure, depending on the hat I’m wearing.

Within 9 months, we had 26+ items in a newly established innovation pipeline. We sparked team interest in innovation by holding competitions and other events. Even introducing a way of empowering innovation teams through using an iterative approach over the Lean Canvas.

But, fun as it was…

As a business leader, I was disappointed that we were unable to move the needle in terms of business impact or ”customer”. Which must be the true motivation for innovation efforts, right?

We appear to have been engaging in what Steve Blank refers to as innovation theater.

when our innovation activities deliver few/no tangible results, we are performing innovation theater

Steve Blank (2019) “Why Companies Do ‘Innovation Theater’ Instead of Actual Innovation”

But it turns out I was not alone in my disappointment. McKinsey, and others, tell us there is an innovation problem. Where “94% of executives are unhappy with innovation performance“. Yet “84% see innovation as important to growth“! And “54% of companies struggle to bridge the gap between innovation and business“. Worse; “very few executives know what the problem is and how to fix it

So, I put down all the books I have on innovation, written by innovation people. And went off to the fantastic Imperial College Business School to do an MBA. The intention was to get insights into business aspects that may have been overlooked.

And it worked. Views of myopic marketing, purpose of firms etc took hold. And I could see some of the ideas were there. And were old. But no-one really seemed to be applying them. In the later stages of my thesis, my supervisor, by chance, directed my attention to service thinking. That was the start of my mental circle being completed.

Based on those glimpses from my MBA and research into service-dominant logic, I spent several years disassembling economics to the ground. The progress economy is the result

The key realisation was that value is not created; rather, it emerges as a measure of progress. We work together to make progress, and the amount made or the potential for it is interpreted as value.

When we begin to think in terms of progress, the solution space expands. We obtain a definition of service (progress propositions) that eliminates the goods versus service debate, aids in the reduction of myopic thinking, and moves us away from the take-make-waste paradigm and toward the circular economy.

It’s a way of thinking which leads to a clear and actionable definition of innovation. Which in turn should lead to growth and sustainability (eg circular economy)

%d bloggers like this: