Creative Innovation in solving Social Problems

When I started my list of courses in the field of management, the significance of businesses in society was revealed to me. It was also here when I began to realize my personal goal for my course in Ateneo. This revelation began when I understood how businesses are the unit that which capitalist society works and how the livelihood of communities depend on how well these businesses provide their employment and conduct their operations. In my previous classes, I understood how social injustices and ecological problems are a result of a failure by these businesses to provide value for their communities. Which is why I found the most valuable taking from the course of Creative Thinking and Innovation Management (DECSC 25)to be the tools I can use as a manager to help businesses realize their goal of helping their communities and improving society.

Naturally, I have gravitated towards answering the question: “What is the role of ethics in innovation?”

Image source: https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-false-choice-between-business-and-ethics/

My previous management classes taught me that real social change should come from a change in business ethics: that ethical business must be the goal of business innovation, which is where the tools that DECSC taught me come into play. DECSC had equipped me with the knowledge to ideate, refine, and actualize solutions to social problems through the study of the creative, innovation, and commercialization process.

DECSC had also provided me with the opportunity to practice this process of creating solutions to social problems through the course project. It is here where I understood the importance of the creative thinking tools, design thinking, and commercialization to, not only businesses, but to solution making.

Identifying the Social Problem

Image Source: Greenpeace Philippines

The creative thinking tools summarized is how one should identify problems and come up of solutions through proper research and evaluation. This is how my group identified the problem of increasing plastic waste and the processes that contribute to its growth. By following Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s format of the creative process, my group was able to identify potential solutions we could implement to address problem. This method taught me the value of working in a team and receiving criticism, as though however air-tight you believe your solutions to be, there will always be a hole that only a third-party might perceive. This was true for many of the solutions we had presented to the coach, which if our group had actually implemented, may have not even reached the launch because of the flaws that she had pointed out. A project with such flaws may have resulted in the same social injustices that I had wanted to solve. So it was then I had realized that in order to avoid such a project, I must be careful and meticulous with proposing plans concerning the betterment of the environment so that it does not actually go against my goals.

After all consideration, our group chose to pursue PlaSHtic: a company aiming to promote biodegradable plastic to reduce the plastic waste generated by the delivery industry.

Refining our solution

Knowing that our proposed solutions must be as thought out as possible, the lesson that helped me the most in ensuring that every detail is considered are the design thinking tools. I recalled that the goal of businesses is to provide value for the community or its target market, and through it is through that thinking that I revisited our chosen solution in order to make the best possible product for our target market — food business owners. It was apparent to me that as I am not part of the target market, I am unable to conceptualize what a food business owner would want. As such, I discovered the informative power of empathy map and surveys in understanding the value proposition.

Illustrated above are the cost analyses I performed to ensure that our products’ pricing was not only profitable for the company, but also competitive in the single-use plastic market. I am satisfied with the level of detail that was done to ensure that this project was actually viable in achieving the goal of lowering plastic waste and providing value for food business owners.

PlaSHtic

On the final stages of our project, it was still important to ensure that PlaSHtic serves my goal of value creation. The customer value proposition and business model canvas helped clearly illustrate what value we give to our target market and how we plan on doing so. Along with constructing these included making the host website and finalizing the product pricing, which were all the concluding steps for actualizing our solution to reality.

I believe that all that the processes and methods that I have employed in my course project had helped me refine my skills as a manager and as problem solver, and I believe I am one step closer to achieving my goal of helping communities and improving society through innovativion in business.

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