In the exploration of soft innovation, I attempt to understand the two relationships in the field of innovation: the first is the relationship between market-driven innovation and design-driven innovation, and the second is the relationship between soft power and hard power. From both theoretical and practical approaches, I extended the existing discourses of soft innovation to a socio-cultural perspective considering Guattari’s idea of Ecosophy, and established an experimental project, Mythopoet, related with Chinese customer culture, to demonstrate my final argument as below.
In time of intense globalisation, the notion of innovation has long been surrounded by connotations of science and technology. A relatively one-dimensional lifestyle stemming mostly from the ideology of capitalism, has been generated, standardised, and promoted. In order to accumulate wealth effectively, new technological and scientific advances that could be used to liberate human potential have remained at the service of a purely capitalist drive.
According to Felix Guattari’s ‘ecosophy’ theory, the significance of innovation must not only be measured by its impact on economic welfare, but also by its often-neglected benefits on ‘social, mental and environmental’ matters. Furthermore, Paul Stoneman, suggests that soft innovation – defined as innovation that primarily impacts aesthetic or intellectual matters – must be considered the equal of technological innovation.
Evolution in nature has shown us that, in order for an ecosystem to prosper, interactivity, variation and novelty are essential. A biologically unchanging equilibrium lacks the ability to adapt and thus to survive environmental changes, whereas, within a poly-cultural ecosystem, cooperative symbiosis nurtures a distinct set of niches and a type of diversity that competition cannot produce. Considered transversally from nature to humanity, the ultimate task of soft innovation is to encourage and nurture variety.
Soft innovation is attached to different psychological affections, cultural attachment, and social ideological belonging. By examining two cases within fashion, Le Book and Browns Fashion, we can see it being applied to business. Conversely, we can also attribute many cases of failure in management to the lack of a soft innovation strategy. By exploring Chinese customer culture within an international context, from historical, sociocultural perspectives, Mythopoet – an experimental project established as a poly-cultural ecosystem – considers cultural differences and recognitions between East and West.
Mythopoet operates under the premise that soft innovation is one of the most powerful ways to achieve symbiosis between aesthetic paradigm and economic welfare. Soft innovation can nurture the diversities of individuality, as well as the symbolic values surrounding customer culture. Technology and functionality should serve to improve social, mental and environmental conditions rather than just facilitate capital gain. However, evolution cannot cease in modern times: it is necessary to promote soft innovation alongside technological change.
Meet other experts on the topic, and check out their ideas in the following video: http://bit.ly/108cgSn
Interested in finding out more about building a creative economy? Be sure to attend the MA Innovation Management Grad Show June 19-23 at Central St. Martins College of Arts & Design.