Personal Disruptive Innovation

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“Companies do innovation theater instead of actual sustainable innovation”.— Hubert Rampersad

“Empathy is just what is needed to make the world a better place for all animals and humans. Personal integrity is the foundation of empathy, in which there is no room for ego”. — Hubert Rampersad

Hubert Rampersad, Ph.D.    

Owing to the lessons learned throughout the COVID-19 crisis, it is about time to design a better world that is characterized by empathy, personal integrity, no corruption, no racism, respect for nature, working smarter, circularity, a changed role of HR, good governance, and ethical leadership. The significant feature in this better world entails SUSTAINABILITY, that is, sustainability in sustainability, innovation, design, HR, leadership, diversity & inclusion, corporate governance, family businesses, oil & gas, and management & design innovation education, as shown in this Figure.


“Sustainability is a holistic and ethical system in which humans and nature can exist in harmony for a very long period of time”– Hubert Rampersad

The first rule of sustainability is alignment with yourself, to continuously perceive what you do sustainability and be aware of the influence of your behavior and actions on human beings, animals, plants, and the environment. This is personal integrity, which is the foundation of empathy and eco-design thinking. In my articles “HOW TO DESIGN A BETTER WORLD“ and “Design For Sustainability“, I discussed in detail how to design this better world sustainably.

  designing a better world sustainability

“It’s about time that the Nobel prize committee establishes a Nobel Prize in Sustainability. When Alfred Nobel died in 1896, climate change was not yet an issue. His vision only included the fields he thought that was worthy at the time. He couldn’t have foreseen that climate change would totally change our lives and that this prize would be necessary to stimulate brilliant scientists and leaders to focus on creating a better world sustainably. I am sure, if Alfred Nobel were still alive, he would have envisioned the creation of a Nobel Prize in Sustainability. This prize is more important than the Nobel Peace Prize and the Nobelnobel Prize in Literature. Without a Nobel Prize dedicated to Sustainability and Climate, we are missing a crucial opportunity to save our planet” — Hubert Rampersad

Read: “Nobel Prize Committee Should Establish a Nobel Prize in Sustainability”.

In this article I focus on sustainability in innovation. This is based on my new book Eco-Design Thinking for Personal, Corporate and Social Innovation; How to Become a Disruptive Eco-Design Thinker Like Elon Musk. Read the excerpt of this book, which is about reimagining design and innovation.

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Sustainability Requires a New Way of Thinking

Designing a better world requires a new way of thinking. Remember what Einstein said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. This new way of thinking is eco-design thinking.  The difference between traditional way of thinking and eco-design thinking is shown in this figure. It’s about a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset.


Many people don’t have a proper balance between the left and right sides of their brain. They behave like book keepers and only use the left side of their brain. Due to this they miss many creative opportunities to deal with complex design problems in a holistic way. In this article I will introduce a personal disruptive innovation model and a related breathing and silence exercise that will encourage you to start acting intuitively thus making more effective use of the right side of your brain. It is part of my eco-innovation model that will be discussed in the next section.

Sustainability Requires Eco-Innovation

“Today’s complex world requires sustainable innovation. Traditional innovation approaches are not sustainable because they are not holistic. They are cosmetical, theatrical and cozy, instead of sustainable. They don’t fit in my definition of real sustainability: Sustainability is a holistic and ethical system in which humans and nature can exist in harmony for a very long period of time”— Hubert Rampersad. That’s why I launched my new Eco-Innovation concept. 


Eco-innovation entails sustainable innovation. It consists of these three types of innovation (Rampersad, 2021):

  • Personal Innovation; the process of unleashing your creative potential, creating new personal opportunities, disrupting your existing target market, that lead to a significant social impact. Is about how to find your purpose in life and how to live a meaningful, better, happier, and healthier life, in business and private life.
  • Corporate Innovation; the application of new ideas to create new products, processes, or services, that lead to increased corporate value. Incremental Innovation, Radical Innovation, Open Innovation, and Disruptive Innovation are all part of Corporate Innovation.
  • Social Innovation; the process of developing and implementing new ideas and solutions that aim to meet social needs and strengthen civil society.

I also refer to my article “The Future of Innovation” . This Figure shows how personal innovation, corporate innovation, and social innovation are interrelated, and associated with self-learning, organizational learning, and community learning, respectively. This article focusses on personal innovation.2.0

Sustainability Requires Eco-Design Thinking

The new normal also requires resilient empathic designers with innovation skills to develop smart ideas sustainably. For this reason I have launched eco-design thinking. Eco-design thinking is the creative process of empathizing with yourself, the end user, and the environment. I refer to my article “HOW TO DESIGN A BETTER WORLD“. This eco-design thinking model is authentic, holistic, cyclic, iterative, and concentric, as shown in below Figure. Main model voor artikelenIt starts with personal disruptive innovation to understand, explore and (re)design yourself first, before solving the design problem. You need to become innovative and empathic first to be able to develop innovative designs for the end users. You need to develop disruptive skills first. This inside-out and outside-in model includes the following four stages: Explore, Ideate, Prototype, and Execute. It is an iterative, incremental, cyclic and concentric process of exploring, ideating, prototyping, and executing. Each iteration reveals new insights. Eco-design thinking is a circular and iterative process that never ends; it’s a continuous process of testing and refining your design, while empathizing with yourself, the users and the environment.

My eco-design thinking model is in line with Elon Musk’s iterative design process, which is a product or process creation technique focused on a cyclic process of prototyping, evaluating, analyzing, and refining. Instead of developing a huge expensive spaceship that could take humans to the red planet, Elon spacexhe chose to build a smaller rocket and iterate on the design. Iterative design in the case of SpaceX includes checking the spacecraft, finding potential defects, repairing them, and developing the project. My eco-design thinking process is also all about iterations. Musk’s iterative design process could be strengthened with my eco-design thinking and personal disruptive innovation concept to design his rockets much better, cheaper, and faster. All his designers must become disruptors just like him. The most important missing link in Elon Musk’s iterative design process is personal disruptive innovation. In my new book I disclosed the secrets of SpaceX to build its rockets so quickly and cheaper than its competitors. 

Personal Disruptive Innovation; First Step in Eco-Design Thinking 

Traditional design thinking approaches taught at Stanford, MIT, and Harvard are mainly based on cozy meetings. Cozy meetings are not needed to generate innovative ideas. You are more creative when you work on your own rather than in groups. The best ideas come when you are alone!all 4-- I developed many innovative ideas in the past thirty years when I was alone. Nikola Tesla generated tons of innovative ideas when he was alone. Stephen Hawking made great discoveries from his wheelchair and Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity while in social isolation.

newtonRemember what Nikola Tesla said: “Being alone is when ideas are born. This is the secret of innovation”.  Albert Einstein said almost the same: “Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holyLONER curiosity. Make your life worth living”.  Elon Musk embraces these statements. Especially in this Corona era you need to be able to develop innovative ideas while you are in social isolation in order to survive. The personal disruptive innovation concept, to be discussed in the next section, creates an environment to develop creative ideas when you are alone, without joining cozy design thinking meetings. With eco-design thinking you don’t need cozy meetings, you need only yourself.

Personal disruptive innovation entails the first stage in my new eco-design thinking model. Disruptive innovation is a term that was launched by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen. It refers to an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leaders, and alliances. More recent sources also include “significant societal impact” as an aspect of disruptive innovation. Employees need to become disruptive first to avoid trauma of sudden corporate disruption. Designers need to become innovative first to develop innovative designs for their end users. I, therefore, introduce in this article the concept of personal disruptive innovation. 

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital Transformation (DT) are the next wave of innovation to enable us to work better, smarter and faster, it’s important to focus on personal disruptive innovation to keep up with AI and DT, because machines and robots can’t replace human intelligence, thinking, creativity, and empathy.” – Hubert Rampersad 

Personal Disruptive Innovation Framework and Roadmap


Personal disruptive innovation is an innovation that unleashes your creative potential based on a strong mindset, creates new personal opportunities, disrupts your existing target market and let you make a significant social impact. This personal innovation is based on a framework and roadmap to explore and (re)design your life, build resilience and a strong mindset, and develop your personal eco-design thinking brand and personal integrity. Based on this system you will also define your higher calling and know the purpose of your own life. Remember what Elon Musk said: “Don’t even attach yourself to a person, a place, a company, an organization or a project. Attach yourself to a mission, a calling, a purpose only. That’s how you keep power and your peace. It worked pretty well for me this far”.  

By using the personal disruptive innovation model, as shown in above Figure, you will able to disrupt yourself and become visionary, imaginary, and empathic. In this way you will not think outside the box, you will think like there is no box. It is about translating your self-knowledge via self-learning into personal innovation. This is a perfect way to develop your resilient, authenticity, and strategic & critical thinking skills that are badly needed in the new normal. Remember: Without self-knowledge, personal innovation, a strong mindset, and personal integrity, you cannot be a successful emphatic designer and innovator. This system will also help you unlock your creative newtonpotential and imagination, and develop your critical thinking skills. Critical thinking is the process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. Isaac Newton discovered gravity based on his critical thinking skills. The personal disruptive innovation model consists of the following four phases: 

A.   Personal ambition: This phase involves a soul-searching process based on thought, introspection, and self-reflection supported by an introduced breathing and silence exercise  to aristotledevelop self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is about knowing yourself. Remember what Aristotle said: “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Elon Musk learned a lot from Aristotle. The result of this phase is the formulation of your personal mission, vision, and key roles, according to the framework shown in below Figure. On the basis of insights acquired through this process, you will explore your life and develop self-knowledge, self-awareness, and self-regulation, which are the foundation of empathy, trustworthiness, integrity, creativity, imagination, and openness to learn. Click on this link to view my personal ambition statement. This statement is the foundation of an innovation mindset. 2-4

This process is strongly related to spiritual. Spirituality is needed in eco-design thinking and innovation because it provides greater intuition in making tough decisions. It is needed to develop of a higher level of consciousness. Remember what Elon Musk said: I came to the conclusion that we should aspire to increase the scope and scale of human consciousness in order to better understand what questions to ask. Really, the only thing that makes sense is to strive for greater collective enlightenment.” By focusing inward and thinking about your actions—as undertaken through self-examination with einstein 2the breathing and silence exercise —you learn more and more about yourself and you will know the purpose of your own life. This is what Einstein wanted to know. You will also find out why you were born. You will not only learn more, but also the truth about yourself. As Thomas Huxley has said, “Learn what is true in order to do what is right.” By formulating your personal ambition, you raise a mirror to yourself and strike a personal note in terms of self- examination. The changes in the thinking process and mindset are meant to prepare you for action, to set you in motion, and to create inner involvement for the design work you love. On the basis of insights acquired through this process, you
will also become more self-assured, and will work smarter through self-learning and self-knowledge.Mark twain You become more creative and innovative as you grow more conscious of yourself—your real character, inner processes, and driving forces. The words of Galileo Galilei may also be recalled here—“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him discover it in himself.” To fathom your life, or to get a better self-image and greater self-knowledge, together with challenges, your learning ability gets greater. This leads to inner harmony, which is the foundation for personal disruptive innovation. Remember: The more innovative you want to be, the more you should develop self-knowledge. I refer to my article “How Mindful Meditation Boosts Creativity, Innovation, and Imagination. meditation

The introduced breathing & silence exercise will help you hear your inner voice to answer above ambition questions. For this you must tune into the same wavelength in which your spirit communicates with yourself. This is strongly related to the concept synchronicity; the simultaneous occurrence of events (or coincidences) which apparently have no clear cause, but are deeply meaningful. It is the connection between the ‘inner world’ and the ‘outer world’; the bridge between these two dimensions is consciousness. Synchronicity can manifest in many forms. I am experiencing synchronicity on daily basis. The number 57 keeps showing up when looking randomly at the clock. By the way, my birthyear is 1957. I am experiencing the synchronicity of this number also with license plates, dates, addresses and phone numbers. This istesla brain how the universe is communicating with me to make my dream a reality and I make sure to pay attention. I listen to and trust my intuition. I have developed tons of innovative ideas (including this eco-design thinking concept) when I was alone, based on my synchronicity skills. Because I am in sync with the universe; I am tuned to the same frequency and acting like a receiver. Nikola Tesla was also in sync with the universe, as shown in this picture, and he was also alone when he made all his great discoveries.

Your personal ambition entails your identity (mission), dream (vision), and key roles. Formulating your ambition is needed to become visionary. Elon Musk’s dream is to help the world to transition away from reliance on fossil fuels and toward the embrace of sustainable energy sources. He has stated that the goals of SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity revolve around his vision to change the world and humanity. His vision includes reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption, and reducing the “risk of human extinction” by establishing a human colony on Mars. According to Elon Musk, the thing that drives him is vision. He said: “I think it’s important to have a future that is inspiring and appealing. There has to be reasons you get up in the morning and want to live. Why do you want to live? What’s the point? What inspires you? What do you love about the future?” He also said: “When I was in college, I wanted to be involved in things that would change the world”. 

B. Personal eco-design thinking brand: This phase involves defining and formulating an authentic, distinctive, and memorable personal eco-design thinking brand promise, and how to use it as the focal point of your storytelling in each stage in the design process. Storytelling contributes to different stages in the design thinking process to engage with the customer. Take the time to write down your personal eco-design thinking brand statement, which must be in harmony with your personal ambition, and create a related compelling brand story to promote the brand called You. Click on this link to view my personal brand statement. Elon Musk is currently the most powerful personal brand in the world and a brilliant storyteller. He is making an emotional connection with his audience based on this.

C. Personal innovation strategy: Personal ambition has no value unless you take action to make it a reality. Therefore, the emphasis in this stage is developing an integrated and well-balanced action plan (personal innovation strategy or personal balanced scorecard) based on your personal ambition to realize your personal  objectives. Personal innovation strategy entails also a road map towards a stronger mindset. Design thinking without continuous improvement of yourself based on your personal innovation strategy is merely cosmetic and will not lead to your sustainable growth andLoner success. This entails your personal critical success factors that are related to your personal ambition and your corresponding objectives, performance measures, targets, and improvement actions. It is divided into four perspectives: internal, external, knowledge and learning, and financial perspectives. Your personal innovation strategy translates your personal ambition into manageable and measurable personal objectives, milestones, and improvement actions in a holistic and balanced way. Through your personal innovation strategy, you can manage yourself and time effectively and become more disciplined, proactive, innovative, and empathic. Your personal innovation strategy is meant to keep you on course and avoid your obsolescence. Read my article “How to Redesign Your Life Based on your Personal Innovation Strategy” to view my complete personal innovation strategy. This will help you become a disruptor like Elon Musk.

D. Implementation of your personal innovation strategy: The next step is to implement, maintain, and cultivate your personal innovation strategy to manage and disrupt yourself effectively and cultivate a strong mindset. This focuses on your private life and business life. To guide you in this process, I have introduced a unique learning cycle called the Plan–Deploy–Act–Challenge cycle (PDAC cycle, as shown in below Figure), which should be followed continuously.


To live in accordance with your personal innovation strategy through its implementation using the PDAC cycle results in a journey towards self-awareness, flow, happiness, and personal disruption. Your personal innovation strategy needs constant update to reflect the new challenges you take, the lessons you have learned, and the growth of yourself. Therefore, it is needed to repeat the PDAC cycle over and over again. Loner-2Becoming a successful eco-design thinker like Elon Musk the disruptor means improving yourself continuously according to your personal innovation strategy and the PDAC cycle. These 50 tips will help you implement your personal innovation strategy effectively. Read also my articles “4 Steps to Become Resilient and Cultivate a Growth Mindset” andTop Ten Traits of a Disruptive Eco-Design Thinker”.

Alignment with yourself; Enhancing designer’s personal integrity and empathy

When you examine the lives of the most influential people who have ever walked among us, you discover one thread that winds through them all. They have been aligned first with their spiritual nature and only then with their physical selves.”– Albert Einstein

Eco-design thinking also entails aligning personal innovation with corporate innovation, alignment with yourself (to enhance personal integrity and empathy) and alignment with your design team (to enhance designer’s engagement), as shown in this Figure. 


“There is such a need for a complete rebirth of trust in our leaders. Somewhere along the line they have lost their authenticity, humility and integrity, and in doing so they have lost their empathy“– Hubert Rampersad

The new normal requires requires empathy, and for real empathy you need personal integrity.  Empathy means awareness of the emotions of others; the emotional connection with others. I refer to my article “Reimagining Leadership” . Remember: The higher your personal integrity, the better your attentiveness, the better your empathic skills, the better your design, and the happier your customer”- Hubert Rampersad. My quotes on sustainability and personal integrity illustrate my related thinking.

personal integrity new

Personal integrity is crucial for a long and successful career as  disruptive eco-design thinker. Your personal brand should reflect your true self and must adhere to a moral and behavioral code set down by your personal ambition. This means that who you really are, what you care about, and your passions should come out in your brand, and you should act and behave accordingly (you should be yourself) to build trust. Building trust starts with being true and authentic to yourself. This involves finding the proper balanceDT code of ethics empathybetween your personal ambition and your behavior and actions, as shown in below Figure. It is about alignment with yourself. As a result, your empathic and innovation skills will be stronger. Consequently, I have also introduced the Eco-Design Thinking Code of Ethics to help designers to use their best ethical judgment. Read also “How to Cultivate Empathy”. 2-14

Alignment with your company and design team; Enhancing designer engagement and design team performance

Aligning designer’s personal ambition with the shared corporate ambition has an impact on the organizational bonding of the designers. Aligning and synchronizing these two ambitions are about tapping into the designer’s heart. It is needed for the purpose of the designer’s engagement and for creating a happy creative workforce and enjoyment in the design team. Remember what Elon Musk said: “People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working.”  


Aligning employee’s personal ambition with the shared corporate ambition has an impact on the organizational bonding of the employees. It energizes them and gives them the proud feeling that they count (that they are being paid attention), that they are appreciated as human beings, and that they make a useful and valuable contribution to the company. They are stimulated in this way to commit and focus on those activities that create value for customers. This will create a strong foundation of peace and stability upon which creativity, imagination, innovation, and growth can flourish, and life within the company will become a more harmonious experience. This has an important impact onemployee engagement at spacex employee engagement and building a learning culture of love within the organization and the design team. To realize this, I encourage team leaders and employees to formulate their personal ambition and let them reflect on the balance between their personal ambition and the shared corporate ambition or design team ambition, as shown in this Figure.

Fig 2-16

Read: “How to Enhance Employee Engagement and Design Team Performance at SpaceX and Tesla“,  “How to Embed SDG, ESG and Purpose in Innovation”, and “How Universities Kill Creativity, Sustainability and Innovation”.

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Dr. Hubert Rampersad is a Reimaginer of Sustainability, Design Engineering, Innovation and Management, a Disruptive Innovation Futurist, and a Global Crusader for real Sustainability. He is author of 25 books on design engineering, innovation, management, authentic personal branding, and entrepreneurial leadership, published in many languages. One of his books, Total Performance Scorecard, published in 20 languages was foreworded by Harvard Business School innovation professor Dorothy Leanard. He is a former MIT Sloan guest lecturer and has been featured on BusinessWeek.  …. read further About the author 

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Center of Excellence in Eco-Innovation

Center of Excellence in Eco-Innovation

Miami, USA | |  Phone/whatsapp: +13053992116| skype: h.rampersad | About the author  

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