Breakthrough: From Impact to Innovation
Innovation is the lifeblood of modern society. The most innovative countries are the wealthiest and fastest-growing in today’s world.
The Owls Foundation’s first book, Breakthrough: From Impact to Innovation 1, surveyed a wide range of case studies of innovation, analysing why some were successful and others less so. Now a second volume is published, focusing on leadership, with seven new case studies of innovation in action, including interviews with some of the Western world’s most successful innovators of recent years.
- F. W. de Klerk, who as President of South Africa, initiated and carried out the dismantling of apartheid and the introduction of multiracial parliamentary democracy, details how he set up the Global Leadership Foundation, composed of distinguished former politicians like himself, to give behind-the-scenes advice to the current generation of political leaders facing massive issues of reform, modernisation and security.
- Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever, explains how he started and carried through a massive process of reform and innovation at the giant multinational with the aim of transforming it into a truly sustainable business at every level.
- Jan Peter Balkenende, former Prime Minister of The Netherlands for eight years, describes how he put innovation at the top of his agenda throughout his four terms in office, so that The Netherlands is now near the top of the global innovation table.
- Koos van Oord, former Chairman of the Dutch marine engineering company Van Oord, explains how a privately-owned family business can survive and prosper in a world dominated by giant multinationals.
- In addition, Breakthough Volume 2 contains detailed studies of innovation in the field of Dutch and US healthcare, and in the Circular Economy, a radical breakthrough in our way of doing business to promote sustainability as well as profit.
In all these studies we use The Owls Foundation’s unique formulae to analyse the root causes of successful innovation and explain how they can work for anyone. The studies reveal how innovation results from working together under strong leadership, the benefits of collaboration with other disciplines and the importance of building networks.
As Henk van den Breemen, former Chief of Defence of The Netherlands, writes in his Introduction to Volume 2:
Our different case studies, whether big or small, provide a rich bank of data to contribute to the goals of this project and to stimulate an ongoing discussion on innovations and breakthroughs, so that they enter the culture of governments, companies, universities, schools and other institutions that can translate these values and principles into reality.
The Owls Foundation was set up in The Netherlands, under Henk van den Breemen’s leadership to study, analyse, encourage and promote breakthrough processes which lead to innovation, whether technical, social or political.