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Purpose Driven Innovation - A Moral Imperative

Thu, 11/28/2013 - 7:22pm -- Brian Modansky

Every societal changing innovation that has ever existed has had one very important trait in common. The innovator(s) had strong perception(s) to how the world should be. Leonardo Di Vinci, the Wright Brothers, Nikola Tesla, Steve Jobs, and countless others all cared to create technology which allowed our human race to evolve. Their innovations paved the way for more innovations which set the stage for cultural paradigms to shift and take root. Throughout time technology has proven to have had both positive and negative effects to society. The determining factor whether the technology helped or hurt our society was solely based on the individual(s) perception of how that technology should be used.

Culture is defined as "a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)". Sociology has shown us that culture is founded on perception. As humans we are taught our culture from our experiences, education, upbringing, media influence, business influence, governmental influence, and our daily interactions with others. Over time we have put together governing systems and institutions such as governments and businesses to help manage different aspects of our cultural evolution.

Every culture has an opinion of what role the individual should play within their community. Groups of people have gathered together since the beginning of time to discuss ways on how we can better the quality of life for the individual, family, and community. Innovations were created through the sharing of ideas. Official governments were created to insure that the rights of individuals were maintained as culture evolved with technology. Businesses and economic systems were created to allow trade of goods between individuals. All cultures have these same basic necessities. Theses necessities are subject to change with the evolution of technology. Innovation evolves the culture of society. Society must not forget to evolve its governing systems with the evolution of society or governing systems start to break down.

America is an example of such a system. It runs as a constitutional republic government that was established to protect and give a safe haven to oppressed individuals and cultures controlled by tyrannical systems of governance which neglected the rights of an individual(s). It created a great environment for economic growth and gave hope to the possibility for the individual to live in peace and provide them with opportunity for them to build a future of their own choosing. America was a refuge for revolutionists who did not want to live under economical and fascist systems of governance. It was also a place where you could be to trade goods with others without the worry of high taxation or government control. They called it "The American Dream".

The economy was created to allow the trade of goods between individuals. Money is currently used as the backbone of most all global financial economies. Just like technology, money can have either a positive and or negative effect to society. Yet again, the determining factor is solely based on the individual(s) perception of money and how the money or lack of money is used. Culture often determines how the perception of money is viewed. Money currently is the majority motivating factor for innovation in our current society. Unfortunately, People are also now born into a culture which teaches that the individual needs to use their skills to make as much money as they can which in turn will bring them the best quality of life. This is about to change.

Since the foundation of our country businesses have been the cornerstone of our economy. Entrepreneurs have worked hard to create amazing innovations which not only changed the world but also added revenue to the economy, and the general wealth of the society. Purpose driven innovations have also made a world changing impact. Open source software is a primary example of purpose driven innovation. We recognize that both systems create technology which can help society in one way or another but both have complete opposite philosophies. Of coarse America's economical system would favor the economic driven way creating innovation. This usually causes an imbalance in how individuals perceive the purpose for that innovation and creates opportunity to violate the rights of other individuals.

Lets look deeper into the economically driven motivation by examining the operations of a few different types of corporations. Living in America, a capitalist country, you could probably ask any investment banker what they thought the traditional goals of a corporation was and they would most likely tell you "Generate the most profit possible, maximize in all areas of business operation, and become a globally recognized brand name.". Now this sounds nice and dandy and will create innovation but it runs into some major ethical problems.

The majority of what society calls bad corporations usually did not intend to be bad when it was created. The actual model of a corporation is actually where the breakdown occurs.

For the sake of argument lets say there is a seed and food company called "Monstermanto Seed Corporation". Monstermanto has a board of directors which all have to answer to their financial investors. Lets say that Monstermanto plants a huge crop of corn. When time comes for harvest their crop they realized that they were only going to be able to harvest only 80% of the crop due to bugs eating the corn during its growth. Once the executives of the corporation get the numbers back from the bean counters they then ask their team "How can we maximize on the 20% loss so we can gain more money for our investors for the next harvest?". All the employees throw out their opinions in order to gain recognition, a raise, or promotion. The corporations executives then comes to the conclusion that they can make more money and harvest a bigger percentage of crops by using pesticide to kill the insects which are causing this loss. One employee ends up finding a way to change scientifically modify the seed so that the newly made pesticide can be grown with the plant. All are awarded within this organization for their lucrative innovation. The corporation then puts out the food and all of a sudden the bee population drops because the bugs were eating the infected food and people have the opportunity to getting sick longterm without knowing it.

The desire to receive the most material gain possible often runs into ethical battles which may impede on other individual(s) rights. The main ethical question asked is "Is another individual in your community more or less important that the profit which another individual would gain?". An analogy would be like building a cage for the people to keep the bad guys out which in turn it really keeps the good guys locked in. These ethical issues leak their way unsolved through the other aspects of culture and government.

Lets say you have a corporation who has a very ethical and reasonable CEO and is 100% owner of the corporation. He is the one who makes the final decision with most major issues. If an opportunity came where he had to make an ethical decision to either go through with a project which may hurt other individuals rights but in return he would make more money, he may possibly decline to pursue that innovation. This is why there is still a little hope for corporations to survive our current evolution. A CEO in this position can also make bad choices. This usually ends up with the demise of the corporation.

In the quest to make the quality of life better for all people we have to understand a little more about cultural perceptions of decisions within governing systems of society. When a decision is made within one of these governing systems which effects multiple individuals we have to discuss the consequences of those decisions against minority vs. majority for it's acceptance. When a governing system makes a decision based on the intention of the majority of the people the system is then properly kept in place by the majority. Depending on the culture of the society, when the minorities make decisions which impede on the rights of the majority we can see individuals either escape that governing system or try to change it. We can traditionally see breakdowns of this model first within economic corporations.

Once again I would like to reiterate the importance of the fact that technology and innovation can either have a positive or negative effect to society. Whats important is how the person perceives how to use that technology. Today we have technology today which can help fix this corruption by opening up communication and transparency. If the majority of society changed their perspective, relearned how to innovate, and reassess our current government logistics then we could assist it to evolve and by thinking of ways to use technology to fix its fallacies.

Brian Modansky

Brian is a 10+ Year Web Hosting Industry veteran. He enjoys helping people achieve their goals in life by utilizing new technology. He believes that an open Internet is the key to purposeful innovation.