Here’s to innovation and design! Over the past 200 years, they have increased our life expectancy almost threefold, filled our bellies, brought us prosperity, and democratized half the world. No matter which industry you are looking at, techies, researchers, engineers and designers everywhere have brought about progress and improvement and have made our lives easier and more convenient.
However, there is the other side to the coin: We have established an innovation legacy at the same time. As we have progressed, we have packed a bag with the relics and drawbacks of our actions, and this bag has started to crush us. The excess of well-nurtured people is crowding out the biodiversity on our planet in the most radical way possible. The climate is suffering because we prefer animal proteins. Digitization will cause global energy consumption to increase manifold over the next 10 years. Data needs energy, a lot of energy!
As a member of the design avant-garde I also contribute to allowing people to find their digitized lives to be so attractive and value-adding. Can we go on this way? Do we designers only need to twiddle the knobs a bit, or are we merely slowing down the growth of our innovation legacy?
The establishment is not expected to bring about any changes. We need a rebellion. For a rebellion we need innovation rebels and a concept for alternatives to the abstinence debate and to global ignorance.
Innovation rebels understand that we cannot solve the problems at hand with the same methods that caused these problems over the past centuries. Innovation rebels approach problems from a very different angle.
Most of us focus on producing less CO2 or generating less waste in order to be less bad. However, this will only make us continue in this negative way because at the end of the day, less bad still is bad – and not good. Innovation rebels think in patterns of more of the good instead of less of the bad.
When developing solutions, innovation rebels do not perceive the economy, environment or society as opposing forces. Rather, they harmonize them without compromising them. A solution is right when it is 100% good for the planet, 100% fair to society, and 100% economical in the sense of the circular economy.
We have to change our mindsets radically. Why not generate food, energy and goods from contaminants to achieve the best lives for all?
Is this crazy? Absolutely, but we need a plan B for mankind, not for the planet. Let’s create innovation rebels in society, a design act that one day may end up being the be-all and end-all.
Karel j. Golta is the founder & CEO of INDEED Innovation GmbH.