Changing context, pressure to evolve and transform in the face of ruptures that defy the norm and demand innovation, especially strategic, to change behaviors and transform business models. This is the scenario of companies in the markets today.
Innovation is the behavior change of agents, in the market, as suppliers and consumers of anything. An old definition by Peter Drucker, almost a universal law. Nobody innovates because they like it, because it’s beautiful or because others are innovating and it is necessary to imitate them. Nor does anyone focus their business on innovation, as it is a means, not an end in itself.
Companies innovate to survive. Continued innovation, with permanent people and resources, in any business, should be one of the most well-established rites of any business, a fundamental part of its repertory.
In this text we deal with the definition of scenarios for innovation, here perceived as starting points to find people and, from them, to identify opportunities to propose innovative products or services.
delimiting the scenario
A scenario for innovation is above all a space, starting point for meeting people. In this perspective, the first component to be defined in the construction of the scenario is the environment.
The environment cannot be delimited just by the physical space. Much more than that, it is a point of reference that guides, in space and time, the views that will identify people who, as agents, will point out opportunities for innovation later.
An environment can be as simple as the square in front of the business, frequented by a hundred people. Or as complex as a digital social networking platform or online game frequented by millions of people. Or the combination of the three.
The choice of an environment as a starting point for innovation can be done in two ways: one, more controlled, when we choose a known environment and closer to the business; other, more daring, when we choose an environment totally disconnected from the business. Of course, there are many among such limits: the world is not binary.
The first path is one of continuity; in it, many agents and their behaviors will already be familiar to us. In the second, the environment is more disconnected from the business, which makes sense when you want a bigger break in what you do. Environments with almost no connection with the business and its modus operandi usually bring into our context people with whom we do not deal and point out opportunities that we have never dealt with.
delimiting the scenario: we are at phygital
If a scenario for innovation is a space, where the business meets people, what are the dimensions that define the place where we will work? Before the digital revolution and, especially, before digital networks, the dimension of the innovation scenario was confused with that of the physical space around the company, or within its reach in some way.
There is a distinction, in the past, that matters here: that which exists between places and non-places. Augé says that seconds are transitory spaces where people pass anonymously and with whom they have no relationship or identification. There, according to him, are airports and shopping centers, while home and school are places.
Today there is a new space, where the physical dimension is enabled, extended, modified and increased by a digital dimension, with these two being related, articulated and orchestrated by a social dimension. It is as if each of the dimensions of this new space were –and it is- a space in itself, and the three, together, created a phygital space.
As the performance of people depends, more and more, on existing infrastructures and services and provided by digital and social platforms, it is almost impossible to imagine a scenario for innovation that has a “pure” physical dimension. Even the projects and construction of the places in Augé include wide digital connectivity to enable, in the physical space, the conjunction with the digital and social dimensions.
When dealing with innovation scenarios in institutions, it is inevitable to consider the three dimensions of space, always, when dealing with geography, history and culture, as we are going to do now.
locating the scenario: phygital
The innovation environment, as a phygital location, must be understood in a gradual and incremental way, which comprises the paths that lead to it until the climatic conditions. And, yes, even if the business is in the digital dimension of the competitive space, [pure streaming is an example], the climate can influence, for example, the suggestion of music in the context.
When defining a scenario, knowing the surrounding in which the environment is inserted is the basis for understanding the flows of people, information and their connections, discovering and discussing the origins and destinations of those – or what, remember things, connected- frequents the environment.
The environment is a place and its qualities, such as climatic conditions. The climate, for example, helps to understand many of the habits and behaviors and of the people and their relations with the place. And time matters: in January, the seashore is one at 59 ° 19′N 18 ° 4′E and another, very different, at 8 ° 3′S 34 ° 54′W. Limitations imposed by intense cold and heat or the comfort of mild temperatures define many possibilities for innovation, including for streaming.
Geography is part of the environment in setting the scene. Not only longitudes, latitudes, altitudes, but IP addresses, their content and social networks inform about people and can help us to infer completely different opportunities for innovation, geolocalized, perhaps hyper localized, desires. What would become of the paths without smartphones, GPS and digital maps?
At this point in the document, a scenario is the composition of the environment and its geographical characteristics, taking into account that our geography is phygital: physical, digital and social.
understanding the scenario
The past can reveal features of the environment that are not perceptible in the present. Often, the habits and behaviors observed in the dynamics of people in a certain environment do not reveal reasons, the origins of those movements.
To know history is to give an account of the paths in space-time that led people to their understandings of the world, desires, pains and loves that are consequences of their history. Especially when you want to look at it from the point of view of groups, tribes and not from the perspective of the individual itself – which can change a lot in other scenarios.
Each tribe present in an environment is the result of a historical construction. It is not by chance that punks appeared in England, hippies in the USA or militias in Brazil. The formation of a people is reflected in their present behavior and defines part of the context that enables [or not] the processes of changing habits in the future. And, from time to time, history repeats itself.
In building scenarios for innovation, time should be treated as a mechanism for creating opportunities. In the past of a certain environment, the key may be to understand present movements and the future trends of the people who frequent it.
At this point in our text, a scenario is the combination of the environment, its geographical characteristics and its historical constructions. The latter must be understood, like the other dimensions of the scenario, in its broadest form: history is not necessarily what really happened, but a combination of past reality with the perception and understanding, both personal and collective, than what “happened”.
explaining the scenario
Geographical and historical characteristics complement the environment, explaining many reasons why people behave in one way or another, opening paths for understanding local culture, remembering that one of the definitions of culture is “the transmission of information between people, in a given context”.
Culture is a key word for the formation – and understanding – of the scenario for innovation, to understand people’s behavior, their habits, the objects with which they relate, their aspirations and [hyper] capacities located in space and time.
The essential elements that explain a scenario are in the culture broth that surrounds it. It is necessary to observe the cultural contours in which people are inserted to identify opportunities and, more than that, to propose innovative hypotheses appropriate to their cultural tracks. But always be wary of not having understood everything. That is why the innovation process involves hypotheses and not certainties; a part of culture is revealed, for example, in the process of experimentation and evolution of hypotheses, in many cases.
Scenarios for innovation are the context for meeting people, understanding behaviors and habits and discovering opportunities to innovate. Innovate for those who frequent the environment, and not for the environment itself. And markets, you know – are networks of people. Always.
We concluded our understanding of the scenario for innovation as the conjunction of the environment and its geographical, historical and cultural characteristics, a broad view of a space-time that allows explaining the people who attend – or should attend – the scenario.