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Mind the mental gap

Everyone talks about disruption; everyone talks about innovation. Everyone talks about Big Data. “(…) Nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it.” Professor Dan Ariely, Duke University

Text & photo: Eva Vestrheim

Sustainability is about changing the rules

Sustainability is about our behavioural change, new business models and new sets of rules and regulations. Sustainability requires a change in consciousness, a change of awareness and a change in the way we approach Big Data.

Big Data with a view to sustainability

Insights into Big Data can provide a strategic tool for sustainable development as well as serving a key driver for new business models for a sustainable future. Ethical considerations must be recognized before integrating Big Data relating to CSR into the business model. These topics were approached and discussed at the seminar at IBM, 13th of November, in Holte.

Kim Escherich, Chief Innovation Architect, IBM; Trevor Davis, FRSA, IBM Distinguised Engineer and Consumer Industry Futurist and Per Østergaard Jacobsen, External Lecturer, Department of Marketing, CBS, were invited as speakers.

The innovation in intelligent buildings

Kim Escherich, Chief Innovation Architect at IBM, presented the newest innovations in intelligent buildings, for optimization of a functional and cognitive working environment in organizations. As indoor conditions have significant effects on health, censoring and regulating these at the workplace can make major improvements on the wellbeing and efficiency of employees.

When censoring the climate, and when facilitating minor surveys about the employees’ experience of the working environment at status quo, small adjustments can be made to improve, hence to create a better indoor climate and a better satisfactory working environment. An interesting example was that the breakdown of a coffee machine in the office was one of the biggest obstacles that led to frustration for workers.

Big Data with a view to sustainability

Trevor Davis, Engineer at IBM, was questioning the concept of value. Ultimately, we need to create shared value and invest in a sustainable future for the benefit of future generations.

Davis stressed the importance of changing the structure when linking Big Data and sustainability at an organizational level, hence we need to break away from an outdated structure in order for new organizational forms to be created.

Rules and regulations

Further, Davis emphasized the crucial point of imposing proper rules and regulations to protect the organizations that strive for a sustainable approach and to move away from design thinking.

Davis argued that Big Data has the potential of leading to a tremendous innovation abundance, if we change the structure, the motives and the values.

Change is the only constant

“There is nothing like Big Data in this century. All concepts of data are per definition big”, Per Østergaard Jacobsen, CBS

Both Davis and Østergaard were pointing at the relevance of adapting to change. Davis was stressing the importance of disrupting the structure when linking Big Data and sustainability, whereas Østergaard was emphasizing an essential need to change our mindset.

It has nothing to do with technology

The urge for change is larger than structure, new rules and regulations. It is not about technology, it is about our perception, thus the change must come from a deeper perspective, disrupting our way of seeing and thinking. In a new book based on a PhD research “Disrupt your mindset”, Østergaard et al, argue that a technology-based approach does not lead to fundamental change, rather we need to transform our mindset.

Østergaard illustrated his point of view by a classic example comprising a recognized Media House that decided to initiate a strategic orientation from analog to digital strategy. Though, as Østergaard pointed out, at the surface it seemed that the CEO was successful in persuading employees to embrace a new mindset, though the employees continued to apply their old mindset to the new technology, simultaneously, talking about the new technology as the ultimate game changer. This is how we continuously fail, hence the transformation involves that we penetrate into the core.

Behavioural change

The obstacle was not that they were not walking the talk, they were not even aware how their mindsets governed their actions. This is what happens when we don’t change the subject, though put all attention to the object.

Our mindset is the fundamental obstacle. It concerns the subject, not the object. It is about identifying the mindset, cutting the root and not the leaf.

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