Innovation is a long road, one on which we can experience obstacles and face different challenges. With determination and consistency however, many stages of this journey can be fruitful. For years now, Enel has been clearing this path towards open innovation and sustainability, creating a new philosophy called Innovability® in the process. Recently, this initiative was recognized as a point of reference for other companies and students alike.
Senior Affiliate Professor of Strategy Felipe Monteiro from INSEAD, alongside engineer and former INSEAD MBA student José Miguel García Benavent, wrote a case study that highlights the achievements of Enel and CEO Francesco Starace over the past five years. In the study, they explore the Group’s developments in sustainability and innovation, and analyze how this philosophy has propelled Enel to become one of the world’s leading energy transition operators across five continents.
'Enel's Innovability®: Global Open Innovation and Sustainability' case study was recently recognized and honored in the Ethics and Social Responsibility category at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2021. These awards have been presented by The Case Centre since 1991 and celebrate worldwide excellence in case writing and teaching.
"It is an honor that Enel’s success story in integrating innovation and sustainability into its business model contributed to INSEAD’s achievement in what are considered the Oscars of the case method community," says Ernesto Ciorra, Head of Innovability® at Enel. As for author and professor Monteiro, he considers that "it has been an incredible opportunity and privilege to write and now teach this case study about Enel’s Innovability®."
A strong belief in Innovability®
The goal of Enel’s Innovability® is to foster innovation and sustainability in order to create value for the Group and its stakeholders. As stated before, this is a long but fruitful road which Enel firmly believes in. "It is a true story of shared value creation that allows us to lead the energy transition. If we want to make the energy sector fully sustainable, we need to keep pushing innovation in the sector," according to Ciorra.
INSEAD's piece explores the period between Starace being appointed CEO in 2014 to his participation in the World Economic Forum in January 2019. In those five years, Enel's commitment to sustainability and innovation helped to position the company as one of the world’s leading integrated electricity and gas operators.
Starace believes that technology and business models driven by innovation are key to reducing CO2 emissions and creating a more sustainable future. "You could say we could continue to do our own business the way we used to do, and probably nothing would have happened to us in the next five years. But if we wanted to go and look beyond that, we should change immediately. Sustainability is needed because without it, innovation cannot fly in an energy company," he says.
The case study shows how the implementation of this model, promoted by the 'open innovation' approach, the Group’s Innovation Hubs, the use of the crowdsourcing platform and the investments in digitalization, have helped Enel become a global reference point for innovation. "Enel has been a pioneer in using open innovation as a key tool to lead the transition to a more sustainable energy sector. I believe many companies from different sectors have a lot to learn from Enel’s Innovability® approach," Monteiro says.
A role model for the entrepreneurs of the future
Students of today are the strength of tomorrow, and the future needs to be innovative. That's why teaching the 'Enel's Innovability®: Global Open Innovation and Sustainability' case study is so inspiring, promising and necessary.
"We like teaching this case in the classroom because it allows the students to take a deep dive into what it would take to implement open innovation in a large organization and the implications of such an approach", says Tina Ambos, Professor of International Management at the Université de Genève. According to her, "the case provides excellent background materials to enable the participants to debate their opinions as they put themselves in the shoes of the managers."
Ivanka Visnjic, Associate Professor at ESADE, reflects on how embracing sustainability is a challenge for large corporations. "Despite good intentions, there are not many corporate leaders and top management teams that manage to convince their stakeholders, shareholders and thousands of employees to work towards sustainability goals," she says.
At Enel, we do our best to live up to this corporate responsibility and this award is further proof of our hard work’s success. Visnjic adds that "Enel is an exception and a shining example in that regard." Enel's long-term vision has a clear objective, as Ciorra sums up: "Sustainability is our goal and innovation is the means to get there".