Restorative Innovation for Social Good
Interview by Anne Lochoff with Jovan Tan
Restorative Innovation is a framework and an innovation theory that refers to innovative solutions that are designed to restore health, humanity and the environment in addition to creating and capturing a promise of value. This means that the innovation introduced is not a charitable product, but a commercially-viable solution which has a greater purpose of doing good and contributing to the betterment of society.
The Restorative Innovation Movement is a global effort to improve the world with Restorative Innovation, and it currently consists of the RIGHT Foundation & the World Restorative Innovation Forum.
Jovan Tan is the Founder & CEO of the RIGHT Foundation, and is an advocate for Restorative Innovation. He is a venture builder and a champion for innovation & entrepreneurship. For the past few years, he has launched & consulted for multiple new ventures, and is actively educating & researching in this field. He is also the first to have worked alongside Professor Virginia Cha in advancing the body of knowledge in Restorative Innovation and to introduce it to rest of the world.
Get to know him more in this interview of him by Anne Lochoff, our Strategic Business Advisor and an advocate for innovation.
Could you share your personal motivations for establishing the RIGHT Foundation?
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” — Steve Jobs
Here’s a fun fact: Everything I have done that directly contributes to the establishment of the RIGHT Foundation as a non-profit think tank was purely accidental; it was not deliberately planned for. Looking back, the foundation started shortly after Professor Virginia Cha of INSEAD and myself, through research, discovered a distinctive pattern of growth for innovative solutions that are designed to do good across our health, humanity, and the environment. That let us to jointly develop the Restorative Innovation model, which encapsulated our insights, and more importantly, illustrated the possibility of introducing innovative solutions that can generate profits, scale, and do good, all at the same time.
I firmly believed that this model has the ability to greatly influence and change how business leaders and the public think about innovation. Instead of commonly associating it with being disruptive, it is ever more crucial in today’s context, for them to understand that force of innovation can also be associated with doing good. Therefore, I founded the RIGHT Foundation to advance the body of knowledge of Restorative Innovation, to proliferate it globally and find ways to translate this knowledge body into real practical impact for the betterment of society.
Steve Jobs said, “there’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product.” Could you share some of your insights of implementing Restorative Innovation from your case studies to date?
Absolutely. It definitely requires great effort to transform any great idea into an astounding product. The key to doing so is in the execution. In our case, it largely involves getting business leaders to understand the possibility and then, encouraging them to make a change in their innovation practice. With that goal in mind, the foundation launched the annual World Restorative Innovation Forum, a knowledge sharing platform to engage the foremost entrepreneurial business leaders and the general public to share and exchange knowledge on Restorative Innovation through a series of talks. The inaugural run was held in September 2018 in conjunction with the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) and we brought in over 15 world-renowned speakers and 300 international delegates to spark conversations and ignite action around the subject of Restorative Innovation. This platform serves as our collective voice to change the narrative of innovation for the good.
However, hosting the forum annually is too few an effort to effect real changes into our society and therefore, I am also actively working with partners to holistically tackle and solve real business problems using restorative innovation. One area that I’m particularly keen to work on is to resolve the inability for conformity assessment bodies to actively track, monitor and even revoke companies from their portfolio should they fail to uphold to the prescribed standards. This area of work excites me because I truly believe that if every organisation does what they promised and claim to do, and not game the system, the world will naturally be a much better place. On that note, I’m very open to be connecting with individuals and corporates who resonates with my work and to explore potential collaborations together so feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn and let’s chat!
Key to Restorative Innovation is growth. A partnership strategy is also key to growth, how do you see Restorative Innovation leveraging multi-sector partnerships?
You’re right. Innovation-driven growth is the most critical component of the Restorative Innovation model and it is mainly enabled through ecosystem partnerships and support. As you can see from the above model, at point 1, impact driven leaders tend to introduce innovative solutions that are of superior attributes and thus, resulting in a higher initial true cost of production. However, for these innovative solutions to be diffused and adopted by the masses, the cost of production, which directly affects the selling price of these newly introduced innovation has to be lowered to a point where it becomes acceptable by the mainstream consumers.
Ideally, for these newly introduced conscientious choices to gradually enter the affordable price zone, the entrepreneurial business leaders have to innovate around 3 key factors — increasing consumer adoption and demand; increasing production availability and capacity; and improving the efficiency of the supply chain.
Often this is easier said that done, and it is an uphill battle when there is little to no support from the ecosystem, especially in the form of a multi-sector partnership. To better exemplify my point, let us use Tesla as an example since we all know Tesla, it’s a household name in the global automotive market and one of the companies we studied as we develop the Restorative Innovation model as well.
For Tesla to be what it is today, it relied heavily on multi-sector partnerships. Instead of trying to build all of its technologies in house, Tesla formed multiple strategic partnership, such as with Panasonic for the use of their battery technologies and with NVIDIA to develop their self-driving capability. To greatly incentivize prospects to hop onto the electric vehicle bandwagon, Tesla also tapped into state incentives and credits and worked with the government to facilitate the process so that the cost of ownership can be lowered and as a result, driving up consumer adoption and demand. Lastly, Tesla also worked with research institutes, like the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to pursue advancements in battery manufacturing.
If there is one tool, piece of advice or thought you could share today that would create an impact tomorrow in everyone’s day to day lives, what would that be?
Consistency and compounding. Consistently doing the right things, no matter how small it may be and eventually, all your little efforts would accumulate and compound to the extent that it can create a huge positive impact to the society.
Interview by Anne Lochoff, Asia P3 Hub’s Strategic Business Advisor.
Anne Lochoff is one of 9 Women rated as the Top Global Influencers of Tech Innovation in Cities by Inc.com in 2016. Common strengths in strategy, design and technology integration run through Anne’s career. While intersecting across government, academia, business and NGO’s.
Currently consulting as a strategic business advisor to the Executive Director of the World Vision hosted Asia P3 Hub based in Singapore. She is also the former chair and business advisor at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Beachheads network South East Asia.
As a former Executive Director at McCann Erickson, she was part of the global team managing the MasterCard account for APMEA (Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa).