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Dr Cristobal Garcia-Herrera, Prof Erkko Autio and myself recently presented a new paper titled: Accelerating Multi-Stakeholder Moonshots to Address Grand Challenges: The Case of World Economic Forum’s Scale 360° for Circular Economy Innovation at the 37th European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) in Amsterdam 8-10th July 2021.

In the paper we discuss the limitation of existing innovation methodologies and discuss how and why they oftentimes result in incrementalism, by delving into the limitations of the underlying knowledge seeking process.

Most of the widely used innovation heuristics focus narrowly on the immediate needs of the focal customer and, thus, are only poorly suited to addressing complex, ‘wicked’ problems that require coordinated adjustments by multiple independent stakeholders who may have conflicting interests .

The objective of the paper is to explore innovation heuristics and methods to support distant ‘moonshot’ projects that move beyond the focal customer’s immediate needs to develop solutions to wicked sustainability challenges, involving multiple stakeholders in the medium and long term. 

World Economic Forum’s Scale 360° initiative (a circular economy co-creation innovation framework designed to bring together public and private sector leaders and innovators, deployed at governmental and regional levels aimed to fast-track Fourth Industrial Revolution impact whilst establishing new ecosystems to address the UN’s 17 Sustainability Goal) is the empirical setting

One of the major challenges with existing methodologies is the seeking of current or existing problems whilst solving them with existing solutions stocks of knowledge, even when triggering thinking from cross-industry perspectives.

In order to break free from underlying limitations to arrive at more radical, disruptive and architectural outcomes, problems need framing in light of wider socio-economic drivers with informed speculative needs and stocks of near-future solution knowledge from multiple domains. These insights combined then need testing and validating back with highly selective lead and extreme users, clients and customers. When combined with a carefully considered innovation portfolio strategy, firms can design appropriate innovation processes tailored to the risk profile being undertaken.

This working paper is part of the newly formed Wicked Acceleration Labs (a joint research lab between Imperial College Business School and Royal College of Art) with the goal of igniting and sustaining economic renewal through circular economy innovation, moonshot design and orchestration, corporate new venture engagement and deep tech acceleration.

Image: @chuttersnap

Mike Pinder

Mike Pinder is a cross-industry business innovation expert & consultant, thought leader, author, lecturer & international keynote speaker on innovation. He's driven by using innovation to leave the world a better place than we found it. Mike is a co-founder of Wicked Acceleration Labs (an industry-academia research lab aimed at tackling wicked problems), Member of Board of Advisors at Global Innovation Institute (GInI), & Honorary Practice Fellow at Imperial College London Business School. Mike consults and leads across innovation strategy, Design Thinking, Lean Start-up, Business Model Innovation in both B2B and B2C, guiding c-level innovation strategy, innovation accelerator design, co-creation, capability programs, academic research, executive education (Exec Ed) university program design, intrapreneurship, digital transformation, sprints & more.