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environment,” said Colby.
Examples of social innovation include Goodyear’s commitment to organic ingredients in its manufacturing process,
Apple’s focus on user security and privacy, and Amazon’s efforts
to create opportunities for small business.
The report found that the most successful companies were
those perceived to be both innovative and socially innovative
Companies that scored high on both the Aii and Sii included
Ikea, Ford, General Motors, Aldi, Jetblue, John Deere, USAA,
Chick-fil-A, and Honda.
“Even if you are innovative you need to consider social innovation to be transformative and not just disruptive,” said Colby.
In the presentation at the R&D 100 Conference, Colby
gave the example of John Deere— a world leader in
advanced equipment and services for agriculture, forestry,
construction, road building, and lawn and turf care—as a
company that is both innovative in their product development and socially innovative.
John Deere innovates by investing heavily in R&D to deliver
new products and breakthrough technologies regularly. The
company also manufactures efficient, clean-burning engines
and produce intelligent connected
technologies, enabling more precise,
smarter decisions for customers. In
addition to those product innovations,
they are also committed to being
socially innovative and as a company
work to solve world hunger, empowering others through education and by
They are also environmentally
conscious and are dedicated to creating
technologies that perform sustaina-bly with a focus on energy, water and
greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve
all of this, John Deere specifically hires
employees that are interested in serving
a greater social purpose in addition to
working on innovative R&D.
Lessons to be learned
While not all companies have the resources of big players like
John Deere, everyone can learn from companies that ranked
high on the Aii, said Colby.
Across industries, innovation leaders have several common
qualities, said Colby. They all have a clear vision of where
they want to be in the future. They take on big challenges,
set impossible goals and are confident in success. They use
technology to transform the business rather than reacting to
change, and they encourage independent thinking in their
cultures but act as a team.
Colby hopes all R&D professionals can take something
away from the Aii and apply it to their own work.
“What we’ve done is we’ve established a bottom line of the
importance of innovation,” he said. “We’ve correlated it with
loyalty and it is definitely a predictor. The implication of that
for people involved in R&D is this is more than just tinkering and coming up with new approaches, this translates into
Innovation Index Results
To learn more about the Aii visit: https://americaninnovationindex.com