Field Reports Poonam and the antidote to "boardroom innovation"

I’m on my way to a meeting, so forgive me for the haste with which I jot down the start of an idea (I’ll expand later, but this is too important to start later).

We had an inspirational morning in Bangalore today. One of them was with Poonam Bir Kasturi and her team at the Daily Dump project. This is an amazing project driven by a critical issue: Sustainability. While the term is growing with “cult-like” popularity, most of the airtime being given is from a 30,000 feet perspective. Poonam’s team is deeply rooted in the complexity of the problem as it confronts daily life. The focus is on waste, tackling it from a composting perspective through a systematic design approach that is rooted in meaning, culture and economic realities. This is not a “deep dive” into the problem, but rather a powerful example of how design is being applied to create real social innovation by re-designing its value chain (sorry, I hate this business term, but you get what I mean).

Over a wonderful lunch, we discussed many issues primarily focusing on design innovation, the team’s “subversive” way of redefining problem boundaries, and culture…. seems like our discussions, almost without exception, end with the question of culture.

I have many thoughts racing through my mind as I realize my growing skepticism for what I would call “board room innovation”. Back on this topic and Poonam’s work shortly…