What’s in it for You - Why You Should Care
What is Social Innovation?
The Stanford Business School defines Social Innovation as, “the process of developing effective solutions to challenging and often systemic social and environmental issues in support of social progress”.
At first, I was skeptical. As a “baby boomer”, I came from a generation where “for-profit” enterprises only responsibility was to earn returns for shareholders. Any peripheral affect that the business had on society was strictly a bi-product of corporate mission. For example, if a Boeing Dream-liner can fly 9000 miles non-stop, it enables us to travel without disruption to far flung destinations. Although profitable for Boeing, this improvement in range is innovation that benefits society and brings us all closer together.
Attitudes and Generations
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the “Millennial's” and “Gen X” generations have seriously embraced social innovation. At the heart of their entrepreneurial spirit is a passion that is driven by making the world a better place. This manifests in sharing profits, sourcing responsibly, and participating in sustainability. Now this is more than just “touchy, feely” hyperbole. Social Innovation is changing mindsets (including mine : ) but more on that later), and is having a tangible impact on how companies develop product, deliver value, and hire talent. I’d like to share a personal experience... a sort of epiphany when it all hit home for me and my viewpoint of social Innovation.
The Concept of a Double Bottom Line
As a Hitachi Vantara (HV) employee, I am well aware of HV’s social innovation initiatives and mission to incorporate a “double bottom line”. At Hitachi, we believe that it’s not enough to just drive a profitable enterprise, but the outcomes driven by our solutions must deliver value to both customers and society. So back to my story… I am a big fan of documentaries, so recently I had a chance to watch the new Ken Burns documentary, “The Mayo Clinic: Faith-Hope-Science”.It’s truly a fascinating story on how the Mayo Clinic which was started in 1883 became one of the leading medical organizations now servicing over 1 million patients per year. I’ll leave the story telling to Ken Burns, and I encourage you to check it out, but what really fascinated me was two guiding principals upon which the Mayo Clinic operates. Those are, “the needs of the patient come first”, and “the latest technology must be leveraged to solve medical problems”. The film details an unlikely partnership between a country doctor, William Worrall Mayo and the Sisters of St. Francis. Their mantra of “the needs of the patient come first” resulted in an enterprise so successful that meteoric growth, profit, and medical dedication to craft made the Mayo Clinic the world-class success that it is today. This is an early example of social innovation driving a “double bottom” line.
The documentary also tells a story that in the beginning Dr. Mayo sought approval from his wife to mortgage their house so that he could purchase a new state of the art microscope that he knew would help diagnose patients and save lives. This was a prelude to the Mayo’s dedication to investment in the latest technology. Insisting upon the latest technology didn’t stop with the Mayo brothers, it has persisted in the Mayo Clinic’s DNA to this day as evidenced in the huge investments they make in medical imaging and cancer treatment.
A Place for Hope When There is No Hope
The documentary tells us how the Mayo Clinic has achieved such a high reputation that it is referred to as “A Medical Mecca”, “The Supreme Court of Medicine”, and “A Place For Hope When There is No Hope”. Without being a spoiler, as I’d recommend watching the entire documentary, the film crew interviews the parents of a child who has a rare form of cancer. Their journey of hope is documented as they bring their child to the Mayo Clinic after they have been pretty much told by other medical organizations that there is nothing that can be done. As part of the treatment the child is brought to Mayo’s state of the art “Proton therapy facility” in Minnesota. In 2015 Mayo opened this $200 million facility which enables the killing of cancerous cells and tumors with proton beams. The benefits over radiation-based therapy is huge in that it is much more concentrated and finely controlled. Consequently, tumors can be treated without killing good tissue. It is much more comfortable for the patient in that it is painless, and recovery is much quicker.
Hitachi Proton Therapy Solution
Being a parent myself, I was deeply saddened but gripped by this story, I continued watching as the child was taken into Mayo’s Proton Therapy Facility. The first thing that I noticed was the warm environment. It was very inviting and welcoming despite the very serious nature of why patients are treated there. The child was placed on an open imaging table as a gantry swung around with the name “Hitachi” on its arm. At that moment, it all came together for me… This child was going to have a strong fighting chance because of the Mayo Clinic and Hitachi’s double bottom line culture of social innovation! At that moment I had to know more about the Mayo Clinic’s multi million-dollar technology investment in Hitachi’s proton therapy solutions.
Life Saving Social Innovation
I found out that Hitachi’s proton therapy is social innovation at the highest level. It made me proud to work for a company that designs products like the rotating gantry proton machine that saves lives with a therapy that is effective, minimally invasive, and comfortable. I also learned that Hitachi has many products including the Sofia whole breast, open imaging machine which provides a more
Hitachi Sofia 3D Breast Imaging
comfortable, dignified, and effective experience for women. These invaluable images and data are processed, analyzed, and stored in equally robust IT products like our VSP storage systems and Hitachi Content Platform. End-to-end solutions like this enable Hitachi to offer a perspective to our customers that no other IT partner can bring to the table. Your data can not only be mined for profit, but it can change and save lives. How many other IT partners can claim that?
Hitachi Vantara Virtual Storage Platform All-Flash Data Storage
A Culture of Social Innovation and its Far-Reaching Impact
Could there be any more social benefit for humanity than companies leading the fight to treating and hopefully curing cancer? Social (and medical) problems are huge and complex. No one person will solve a problem like cancer. It will be teams of people using the latest technology, analytics, artificial intelligence and data. This is where “Social Innovation” rubber meets the road. It’s not a touchy, feely, or ethereal concept. Social Innovation is REAL, and companies who embrace a double bottom line will not only reap profits, but an immeasurable dividend in human capital bigger and farther reaching than they can predict.