The relationship between innovation and enterprise is a many-sided topic, which also involves the issue of responsibility.
The entrepreneurial subject produces innovation through capitals and knowledges (experiences) and introduces it into the social context. Basically this is due to the search for profit rather than to any other motivations.
What is right in this approach and what, on the other hand, should be improved? What can be done to make the innovation responsible? Who can be entrusted to make choices?
It is the author's intention to bring a contribution to the debate on these issues.
Innovation means to explore the unknown through the available know-how, the new information and the eagerness for changes. First of all, innovation represents a "breakthrough", which has the purpose of overcoming the schemes currently adopted and investigating new ways of "doing" or "being".
Innovation is therefore experimentation and attempt, whose results are strictly linked not only to the quality of the project on which the action is based but also on fate. For this reason innovation often means to bet without knowing exactly where our choices will bring us.
If the step of planning is essential in the innovation process, it also true that experimentation plays a crucial role and it is likely to determine the success of what has been undertaken.
It is difficult to think that innovation could be responsible on its own. The concept of responsibility is almost incompatible with the "act of innovating", which includes the idea of "breach" in its own nature. It is this same impulse to breakout, which made man override instinct and build up his own world. (1)
On the other hand, the exercise of innovation is such a complex question that it cannot be restricted beyond certain limits. Exaggerated ties frustrate the innovative impulse and innovation cannot emerge under oppressive conditions. It is enough to say what happens in big companies, when pushes towards changes are lacking.
This means that rules and choices must be applied at a different level, while the issue of responsibility must be considered subsequently, after having evaluated the compatibility between the results obtained and the ties involved.
It is important to stress that innovation cannot be excluded. Evolution comes with changes. Time after time, through innovation living organisms have evolved, civilizations have progressed, organizations and enterprises have been developed.
Innovation equal to progress seems to be an unexceptionable equation. From a systematical and evolutionary point of view, innovation represents the primary engine of lifes progress on the earth. (2)
This progress is often made of attempts, which not always lead to previously forecasted results.
Evolution is basically a bet on the future, and each bet implies risks.
Nowadays innovation coincides with technology, which is no longer just the instrument used to dominate nature and guarantee the mankind's survival, but the essence itself of the world which surrounds us. In this world of technology "that what can be done must be done", this is the imperative which is threatening mankind and enterprises! (1)
We must think over this point to gain impressions and find out solutions.
It is not possible to think that technology can be self-controlled. The technical apparatus is "nurtured" by innovation and it is vain to believe that it could be stopped by ideas able to affect its development.
Technology is not able to take a direction on its own. Politics should attribute to itself the role of leader, in order to direct the technological development towards general instead of particular interests. To make this occur, politics should free itself from the technical apparatus, thus avoiding being only its faithful administrator. (1)
It is not an easy process, especially if we consider that politics has been submitted for years to the technical and mercantile heritage of the industrial society.
The best men and women do not enter the world of politics, and this is an additional obstacle.
Close to politics, religion is another element of human life, which is able to give it a meaning and, consequently, to show a way towards innovation.
Materialism annihilates life's perception in men and in their organization. Life becomes an aimless run in which technology plays the leading role without being entitled. The technical apparatus should be at man's service and not vice versa! This distortion should be adjusted by working on the foundations of this society.
In this context, enterprise cannot keep a neutral position. It has the duty to innovate in the right direction and contribute to the transformation of society through the restoration of human values.
Enterprise cannot be entitled to establish the rules nor to show a system to be taken as reference for a social and spiritual development. Politics and religion must play their own natural role in indicating and regulating the planets progress.
The fundamental values must be determined by thinking of enterprises, which in turn should assimilate and convert these values into social and eco-compatible development strategies.
The model of enterprise, which in theory should contribute to build up a new society and a new Planetary Civilization, has been named by the author "impresa sapiens".
This kind of enterprise should be "complex to face complexity, proportionally sized with respect to competitors, open and light to be flexible, founded on a network of responsible subjects and self-supported projects, dinamically able to adapt itself to the outer world and consciously related to it". (2)
This model of enterprise has been entitled with the duty of innovating, being as much as possible respectful of "the game's rules" set by other subjects. In this way it can be the protagonist of a responsible innovation.
1) U. Galimberti, Psiche e techne, Feltrinelli, 1999.
2) P. Lombardi, Impresa sapiens, Franco Angeli, 2000.
(Traduzione di Elena Dell'Aiuto)