Week 4 – Social Innovation and Sustainability

The NYC trip has come to an end and we have spent there last week of our study module that was dedicated to social innovation and sustainability. It is a kind of logic completion of the journey as I truly believe that the future of successful businesses is not only about money making but about being sustainable and providing social benefits and responsibilities.

“Innovate or evaporate” was the slogan of the first session this week by Andrew Pek, Partner in Pivot Leadership. Working a significant part of his career in Pfizer as a Head of Innovation department he brought us some interesting examples of innovative products and taught techniques of design thinking. Innovation must be something of value to people or in other words desirable, at the same time it has to be doable (capable of being done), and relevant (make profit or deliver value). People who think differently and are fiercely passionate about something are the best innovators.

One of the real highlights that week was a visit to Brooklyn Grange, a rooftop green farm almost in the centre of NYC. That was a truly amazing experience that you probably cannot find anywhere else in Europe or even in the US yet. In addition to growing and distributing fresh local vegetables and herbs cultivated organically without any harmful chemicals added, Brooklyn Grange also provides urban farming and green roof consulting to firms interested in this kind of business worldwide. They do partnerships with numerous non-profit organisations throughout New York to promote healthy and strong local communities, and educate children during organised by schools excursions. One of the most brilliant examples of social responsibility!

Another remarkable talk was by the founder of Hungarian music festival “Sziget” Laszlo Karafiath, producer of CultureCulture Inc. He has introduced us 10 rules of memetic marketing. The bottom line of it is: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes an existing model obsolete.” – R. Buckminster Fuller. That brings a new approach and spills a new light on marketing explaining why memes are popular, where they come from, and how to use them.

I was also impressed by the presentation given by Monty Graham, founder of 350 Technologies LLC, company dealing with energy efficiency, energy management and sustainability projects. He has brought up a thought that a model for the future centuries sustainability is when companies can deliver back the used energy (electricity) to the pipeline or grid. And there are already existing examples of such companies!

Overall, it has been an amazing and diverse experience to visit different companies and to meet people from various backgrounds. I am sure that all of us will bring something new to our home countries and future companies we’ll work for. I’d like to cite the mission statement of the Green Map System in this respect: Think Global, Map Local! NYC experience has definitely broadened up my views, taught to see things from a different prospective, and hopefully, I can apply new knowledge in the nearest future.

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