Innovation on Purpose

As a matter of leadership, I define “Innovation on Purpose,” as, when in a position to truly take a stand and make some change, a passionate person or people of character elect to create new commercial value in order to empower their causes. It is leading toward, “promised lands,” using clever, often technology-driven solutions to speak for the voiceless, persevere for the downtrodden and show up for the forgotten living all around us. For many, living a life with noble intent is the dream..and this dream is the single biggest piece of common ground we 23 share in this Leadership Ohio Class of 2019.

Spending a weekend together in Cincinnati was a very moving experience. A city enjoying its fair share of Fortune500 companies (top 5% of cities by some estimates) and hating its unfair share of people experiencing homelessness (nearly 25% by some estimates), the underlying spirit I took away from Cincy is that they, “innovate on purpose.” Daniel Meyer chooses to be innovative because there is a larger purpose driving him. He strives to build powerful products and memorable brands by creating a company, Nehemiah Manufacturing, that only hires second chance entry-level workforce. Meyer is obviously a gifted business leader, but he is also a prolific believer, utilizing his faith for the energy to keep climbing the ladder of conscious success. Forging deals with local icons like Kroger and Procter & Gamble, Meyer leverages the richness of Cincinnati’s history to create a future-ready community, and he goes straight for it, instead of waiting for someone else to come along and save the day.

Nehemiah Manufacturing gives men and women a second chance at a life enriched by the dignity of work, and with high-quality product, the culture of his company has exponentially grown into the formation of a larger corporate coalition. These many companies he has assembled “give anyone a job who wants a job.” If not at Nehemiah, at one of the companies in the network, innovating on purpose yet again, by targeting the right talent, going directly into the right job, in the right part of the greater community (52 neighborhoods make up Cincinnati proper). Powering the evolution of new hires into management roles, this vision builds up people, in addition to building up resumes. It is exactly the kind of innovation lesson we needed at the mid-point of our class journey. If the first few sessions were about the thought processes and outcomes of practical innovation (decision-making), it was quite timely that in our fourth month we entered into the arena of purposeful innovation (discernment), just as we begin figuring out class projects. And this was just one of 10 examples we found in Cincinnati that showcase a community responding to its own challenges with creative thinking.

- By Ian Schwarber, Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, Centerlink Technologies | Leadership Ohio Class of 2019

Please note all blogs are the sole opinions of their authors and do not claim to represent the views of Leadership Ohio.