Shaping Our Future
JFE is committed to a high level of engagement and collaboration with clients, supply partners and advisors, making the investments needed to achieve a high level of capability and capacity for human and production systems, while co-creating solutions and strategies to meet our society’s need for clean, sustainable electrical energy. This is our mission.
The Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century when agricultural societies became more industrialized and urban. The transcontinental railroad, the cotton gin, electricity and other inventions were a major transformational catalyst for our world and our societies. What we are facing today, with the challenges of environmental health and the need to renew energy systems, is equally monumental. But with one key difference: the pressure of time.
Dave Snowden, a consultant and researcher on knowledge management and complexity, has published work on “what really” inspires human creativity and innovation. Snowden’s research suggests that in human systems, there are three necessary conditions that must be in place for true innovation to take place:
- A starvation of resources;
- The pressure of time; and
- A perspective shift.
In my experience, I have found that a shift in thinking or perspective triggers the needed creativity to innovate a solution to a big challenge. However, many will find this counterintuitive, thinking that for big innovation we require more resources and more time, often discarding the need for a change in thinking.
When considering our 2050 decarbonization objectives and the need to accelerate the availability of clean, electrical energy, I hear this a lot. Not enough time or resources. There is no doubt that significant innovation is required for us to solve the challenges our society faces for clean, renewable energy. Let it be known that it is within our grasp, and the pressure of time is intense. We need to take heed of Snowden’s formula for creativity and innovation and accept the challenge.This past March, I was travelling in Japan and had the great pleasure of visiting Miraikan, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo. One of the permanent exhibits, Create Your Future, was extremely thought-provoking and had a big impact on my thinking. This exhibit challenged visitors to imagine an ideal future, 50 years from now, and asked what kind of Earth we wish to leave to our descendants. As you enter the Backward from the Future area, you are requested to envision one “Earth” that you wish to pass on to your descendants. Here were the choices:
I look at this list and feel quite fortunate. In my lifetime, I have had most of these afforded to me and reflect that most of the world’s eight billion people have not. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” right? The question for visitors is, what should we do to preserve our current Earth for the next generation? By envisioning an ideal future and thinking backwards, we can realize what we need to do today.
After considering my one selection—“An Earth where global warming has been stopped”—the exhibit then walked me through a simulation for the next 50 years, illustrating both challenges and progressions along the journey. That is where the most profound message struck me. It does not matter which Earth you select; the biggest obstacles are the same, and the biggest progressions are the same. We are guided to seriously think about the resources, the human culture and the social affluence needed to achieve our goals.
Two key points accelerate the progression towards achieving our goals:
- Scientific Progress – which restores the physical affluence of the Earth, through innovations and breakthroughs in new technology and solutions. Human beings have an enormous capacity to create and innovate, when needed.
- Cultural Progress – which restores the culture and social affluence of the Earth, where all people can work together, in collaboration and towards a common goal and vision.
Two key points hurt the progression towards achieving our goals:
- Ignorance – which is an obstacle that damages the cultural and social affluence of the Earth. Ignorance, whether in the form of denial, lack of critical thinking or acceptance, causes such severe conflict that progress cannot occur, and we are stuck or go backwards.
- Greed & Self-Focus – which are obstacles that damage the physical affluence of the Earth. They disable collaboration and have no regard for our shared resources or society, or for our descendants.
This really made me think about the work JFE has taken on in creating sustainable, clean electrical energy as well as the influence we can have on leaders. As we have taken a pledge of leadership in this regard, we can tackle:
- Ignorance through information and promotion; and
- Greed and self-focus by working collaboratively, sharing our resources openly and freely for the benefit of our company, our clients, our suppliers, our society and all JFE stakeholders.
We can commit to applying our skills and knowledge to create technical and scientific innovations, along with our owners and partners, all in the pursuit of our mission and our vision of a sustainable supply of efficient and clean electrical energy. We can progress with a culture of openness, collaboration and shared values while focusing our pursuits for the benefit of others.
Maybe, just maybe, this is the shift in thinking and perspective that we need, as we work to face the big environmental and energy challenges ahead of us. There is little doubt that we face the pressure of time and a scarcity of resources in all our pursuits. What if instead of focusing alone on how we can tackle these challenges and benefit from the opportunities, we consider how much faster and more successful we will all be if we work together, arm in arm, with an equal and strong commitment? To create the level of trust and collaboration needed to abandon our common and traditional thinking towards competition and conflict, and instead focus on “our” successes, and “our” profits and “our” Earth?
Despite the size of the challenge, we can find the way forward. We can create and innovate the solutions. It does require that we work together; we are more powerful, more intelligent and more successful together. That is how JFE is working towards our mission, and we will invite all to join us in co-creating solutions that meet humanity’s need for clean, sustainable energy systems.
Leading · Together
Inform · Influence · Inspire