There are different levels of understanding the moral innovation framework. At the top level, it is the balance of innovations with morality. This can also be read as continuous improvements with integrity.
It is easy to introduce innovations without a morality balance. iPhone 7 is a continuous improvement over iPhone 6, and the original iPhone was clearly an innovation. The morality balance is more difficult to illustrate because of the multi-cultural complexities. For example, how do we judge the exploitation of the slave-like Chinese laborers as Apple’s vendors/suppliers get 10% profit when Apple’s intellectual property rights command 90% profit? Apple is among the most valuable companies on earth with these profitable products.
Morality was formalized about 2,500 years ago when the global human population reached 100 million. Socrates in Europe, Ashoka in India, and Confucius in China proposed that humans follow societal rules as we encountered more fellow humans. Humanity as a whole began to diverge at that time, mixed with faith and religion. Socrates followers, through the Roman Empire, became today’s monotheists such as Christians and Muslims. Ashoka followers, through the Persian (Muslim) and British/Portuguese (Christian) influences, became henotheists (e.g. Hindu is generally a monotheist religion at the individual level, but compatible with the existence of many other Gods followed by others). Confucius followers, who were taught “we do not know enough about the living, how can we possibly understand the afterlife?” lead the world of mostly atheists around the world.
Christians and Muslims have inherent conflicts in their beliefs of their God being the only God, resulting in many conflicts that include, but not limited to, the Crusades 1,000 years ago. These conflicts probably drove Christians away from the Middle East. 500 years ago, Spanish Pope Alexander VI and the Portuguese claimed possession of the entire earth through the 1493 Tordesillas Treaty, and later the 1529 Zaragoza Treaty, with no input from the Chinese, Indians, Africans or Native Americans. Note the signers of these treaties were the Spanish and Portuguese. Britain, for example, created economic conflicts among Christians when their pirates looted the mostly Spanish treasure fleets collected from the Americas. After the Spanish Armada failed in 1588 to defeat Britain, the emboldened pirates found an innovative path to the treasures through shareholder risk-sharing investments in the concept of “company” that we know today as stock or equity investments. The British East India Company was incorporated in 1600. The Dutch East India Company (aka VOC) was incorporated in 1602.
Without the corporate governance that we know today, both East India Companies were corrupt with unsustainable immoral practices. VOC took Jakarta, Indonesia as headquarters before the corporate charter expired in 1799. The British East India Company lived longer partly because the British government granted (in 1773) monopoly power to trade opium. This was the nadir of human morality. Opium production was introduced to farmers in India and Myanmar (or Burma), and sold into China in exchange for 70,000+ tons of silver and other treasures earned through Silk Road and other trades. China was the world’s largest economy in 1820 with 33% of the Global GDP when the global population reached 1 billion. In other words, China produced goods and services that represented 33% of all goods and services worldwide less than 200 years ago.
As opium was illegal in China, the opium trade led to two opium wars. China lost over 25% of Global GDP between 1840 and 1940. Even though China has grown very fast in the last couple of decades to reach the second largest economy on earth, her share of Global GDP is only 16% today, less than half the size of economy they commanded less than 200 years ago. Using percentage of Global GDP highlights the relative time scale. In absolute scale, the global economy has grown from $600 billion to $41 trillion (1990$ on PPP basis) between 1820 and 2003. Today, USA is the largest economy on earth and commands 17% of Global GDP.
The outcome: Christianity became the most powerful and wealthy community on earth, with about 35% of humanity following Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant bibles. Most Christians are also capitalists.
After the Chinese revolution in 1911 that established the Republic of China, the capitalist European Christians needed another innovative path to accumulate wealth. Between 1915-1920, Britain’s Mark Sykes (1879-1919) and France’s Francois George-Picot (1870-1951) led the European Christians to decide how the Middle East should be carved up after the first world war. In a region already inhabited by Arab Muslims with rapidly developing nationalist aspirations (called the Committee for Union and Progress), a Sykes-Picot agreement was signed in 1916 that promised the same region to Hashimites, Saudis, and the Zionists of Europe. If not for the dissolution of the Committee for Union and Progress in 1918, death of Mark Sykes due to Spanish flu in 1919, and the 1920 Treaty of Sevres between the Allies and Ottoman Empire, the Middle East may be a very different place today.
In 1948, Israel declared independence with the overwhelming support of Christians in an almost exclusively Muslim Middle East. Christians, especially the USA Protestants, average tens of billions of US dollars subsidy every year for nearly 70 years to help the isolated Jews grow in a Muslim world. Christians are not as passionate as the Jews in reclaiming the Jerusalem homeland, but there is a prophecy proclaimed by Abrahamic religions (that include Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) that lead us to an apocalypse. There are irreconcilable differences to impose a Jewish state in the middle of Islam, especially in light of this prophecy. Even with 7 million brave Jews living in Israel today, this population is only comparable to tiny Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China. While Christians are fantastic tourists for the Israeli economy, Jews and Muslims need to return to their moral principles 2,500 years ago that humans must follow societal rules when they encounter fellow humans. Until we have these new societal rules for Jews and Muslims, our world will deteriorate into suicide bombers. The super majority of Americans suffer delays through the airport screenings due to a tiny fraction of potential terrorists, and trillions of dollars wasted down a path of mutual destruction.
In 1973, the fortune turned for hapless Muslims in the Middle East when Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) established oligopolistic pricing, and an average of $2 trillion US Dollars equivalent per year has moved into the Muslim dominated OPEC world. This is the second largest transfer of wealth among humans, behind the Opium Wars. It should not be surprising that the current terrorists are likely financed by such wealth, and Saudi Arabia (the largest oil producer in OPEC) is sponsoring Wahhabism, an extreme form of Islam, into places like Malaysia and Asia, where most of the Muslims live.
What is illustrated here is the increasing conflicts financed by immoral actions. David Cameron, the former British Prime Minister, was asked in 2010 during a TV interview why India’s Kohinoor Diamond (at 186 carats the world’s largest natural diamond) cannot be returned to India: “If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty…”
Humanity is projected to reach 10 billion people by the year 2100, less than 85 years from now. If we do not educate our children with a moral innovation framework, the opportunity to achieve a homologous world will likely give way to a self-fulfilled apocalypse prophecy that is being called for by the Abrahamic religions. Will 40% of humanity reflected by the Chinese and the Indians have a choice for their own destiny?
That is the basis for the Moral Innovator motto: Thrive with knowledge of your place in the world. Do the right things and make it better.