Guest Column

‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ – a precursor to innovation and societal progress

July, 2019

Ingenuity is one of the intrinsic qualities of human beings. Look at human evolution and you will realize that we began discovering and inventing much before we invented the term ‘discovery’ or discovered the term ‘invention’. Even later, and much before the words like ‘creative thinking’, ‘innovation’, ‘lateral thinking’ and ‘thinking out of the box’ came in our parlance, we were still tinkering and experimenting all the time. However, in those times, what led to it was normally necessity, and later laziness.

Then came an era when we were less pressured by necessity and less nudged by laziness. In that era, human ingenuity was sparked by ‘curiosity’ and ‘achievement’. The individual ingenuity gave way to the times of entrepreneurial enterprise. There were new poster-boys wanting to do more of what they loved, and in the process, were changing the world for good. Developments in science and technology fueled their dream to make an indelible mark in the history of mankind.

And here we are today, with necessities fulfilled, facilities availed and luxuries bought. What will spark our ingenuity now? Oh! I guess some disambiguation is needed here. When we talk of ingenuity, we are not talking about ‘add-ons’, ‘versions’ or ‘upgrades’ of products, which are born out of companies’ compulsion to maintain perception in market or assuage people’s notional need for ‘new’. We are talking of the kind of ingenuity that makes you sit up and take notice of it because it struck a chord somewhere deep inside.

Well! Now that ingenuity will not be driven by quest and passion, it will now be sparked by empathy and compassion. Now that intrinsic ingenuity will not be stirred by an effort to solve one’s own problems, it will wake up in an endeavor to solve someone else’s problems. So, now the assembly line will not be invented by Fords of the world to increase the efficiency with an eye on profit maximization, rather it will be innovated-upon by the Aravind Eye Cares of the world to reduce cost with an eye on serving the needy.

Now the desperation of taking care of the quarterly results won’t be enough to incentivize people to find new solutions. Now it is more likely to be inspired by a Gandhi’s mission of ‘More from less, for more” i.e. to improve efficiency and effectiveness to aid accessibility and affordability. Now motto will be the mojo! Yes, at the base of it, now the innovation will be rooted in ‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ which I define as “Ability to adapt one’s behavior on the basis of awareness of one’s own emotions and attunement with others’ emotions”. So now, the adaptability won’t happen unless awareness and attunement takes place.

And do not misunderstand this ‘desire to serve’ as some form of charity. It will have its own commerce, a different genre of commerce around the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ with business-models that will create value for all stakeholders in their own innovative ways. As we enter this new world of ‘commerce with conscience’, innovation will not be limited to ‘research & development’ departments and guided by the diktats of ‘market share’, ‘traction’, ‘margins’, ‘leverage’, ‘capitalization’ etc. Now, innovation will find manifestation at all the nodes of value-chain, and will be inspired by the seeds of ‘social citizenship’, ‘organizational belonging-ness’, ‘human values, ‘community ethics’ and ‘customer centricity’.

And at the base of it will be ‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ – the science of managing self and connecting with others. With such a base, societal progress doesn’t remain an objective but becomes… an outcome.

- Dr. Sandeep Atre
‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ Expert
Founder – Socialigence (www.socialigence.net)