September update

It is spring here in Pretoria. Many of the plants and trees in our garden and our neighborhood are growing new leaves. We are all waiting for the first spring rains to wash the dust and pollens from the air.

In my work, there are also new green shoots that I want to share with my readers and my friends.

  • I have been appointed as a Professor of Practice with the DST/NRF/Newton Fund Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation, the 4th Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development hosted by the University of Johannesburg. I am grateful to Prof Erika Kraemer-Mbula and her team for making me part of their team, even if I am only a part-time member of faculty. My role in the research chair is to make the abstract and often-academic literature more accessable to practitioners and post-graduate students here in Africa, while bringing my practical experience into the academic discourse. I will also be able to further pursue my research into the role and performance of innovation intermedaries and meso organisations with the research chair. I have already participated in several calls with post-graduate students and some of the other members of faculty.
  • As many of my regular blog readers would know, I have been contracted since 2018 to do research and policy advisory work on the topic of technological disruption with the not-for-profit research organisation called TIPS (Trade and Industry Policy Strategies). We are now using the insigths gained from our research to develop analytical and process instruments, and are already applying these frameworks in the South African plastics, metals, automotive and leather and footwear industries. It is rewarding to see how these ideas can be used in practice to gain a better understanding of how business people and supporting organisations innovate, learn about new technological possibilities and develop new capabilities.
  • My first year of serving on one of the WEFs Global Future Council for the New Agenda for Economic Growth and Recovery have come to an end, and my term was extended for another year. During the regular meetings with my fellow council members I have realised how local insights into businesses, supporting organisations and the dynamics in locations can contribute to a global perspective on economic change and collective action.

The singing of the birds outside urge me to also want to celebrate the arrival of the new season. Of course these green shoots had its origins in previous seasons, and I am thankful for this continuity that goes on even when I don’t pay attention to it often enough. I want to express my gratitude to God for the ongoing provision that we receive as a family, despite the destruction caused by the pandemic and the responses of governments to it. I am constantly reflecting on how I can be more effective in blessing others out of the abundance that we receive as a family and as a business. I know that writing blog posts and developing short text modules is one small way of encouraging others, and I want to commit again to thinking-out-loud with my friends and collaborators.

In the days to come I will share some reflections about innovation systems, competence building, learning and some of the other topics I have been working on in the last few months.

The photo at the top of this message was taken by Caitlin Cunningham in our garden just before sunset earlier this week.

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