How to get started with Responsible Innovation
Many companies want to do the right thing. The question is, how? What are the best ideas and practices? Now more than ever, amidst climate change and socio-economic challenges, the world needs innovation that improves livelihoods while avoiding harmful unintended consequences.
One example of Responsible Innovation is the development of self-driving cars. Self-driving cars have the potential to revolutionise transportation. They could make our roads safer, reduce traffic congestion, and improve air quality. However, there are also concerns about the potential for self-driving cars to be hacked or used for malicious purposes. Responsible innovation can help to ensure that self-driving cars are developed and used in a safe and responsible way.
The rapid pace of innovation in Asia is raising a number of ethical, social, and environmental concerns. Because of this, there is a growing movement for responsible innovation in Asia. A number of governments, businesses, and civil society organizations are working to develop and implement Responsible Innovation frameworks and initiatives. For example, the Bank of Thailand has urged for the use of Responsible Innovation to reduce economic risk. In addition, some countries like Singapore have started to create guidelines and frameworks for Responsible Innovation, specifically in the context of AI. Though still in its early stages in Asia, it has the potential to play a major role in shaping the future of innovation in the region. By taking Responsible Innovation into account, innovators can help to ensure that new technologies are developed in a way that is beneficial to society and minimizes any potential risks.
What is Responsible Innovation?
Responsible Innovation is a relatively new idea. Think of it as a ‘society-centric’ form of innovation rather than a ‘user-centric’ form of innovation. User-centric innovation and responsible innovation are two distinct approaches to innovation that share some common goals.
User-centric innovation or Design Thinking is focused on creating products and services that meet the specific needs and preferences of users, while responsible innovation is concerned with considering the potential social, ethical, and environmental risks and impacts of new technologies, scientific developments and innovation in general.
Responsible Innovation means protecting and taking care of tomorrow by collectively directing innovation today. It can be done through the following four dimensions:
Responsible Innovation can sound overwhelming. The good news is, it is a process and does not have to be done overnight.
Here are 6 ways to start your Responsible Innovation journey:
- Implement ethical risk assessments
This is a process to identify potential risk areas and analyse the unanticipated negative social effects of your activity. This can be done through strategic workshops and focus group discussions to help build impactful solutions moving forward.
- Stakeholder Value Plan creation
It's possible to miss the big picture when maximising shareholder returns. Value for shareholders is a byproduct, not a goal. Make a plan that lists all of your stakeholders (such as your employees, community, users, and shareholders), and be honest about how your company generates, destroys, or removes value for or from each group.
- Get reliable advice for Responsible Innovation
Think about establishing formal advisory connections that can aid in your reflection on morality, civic duty, and the unexpected effects of your activity. This can be done through strategy workshops and insights gathered from focus group discussions (FGDs). Instead of approaching projects with fixed solutions, we make sure clients are clear that the initial proposed solutions might change based on what is truly required for their intended campaign after the exercises above. Being agile in your business processes allows people to prioritise ‘Responsible Innovation’.
- Create an ESG plan
ESG stands for Environmental Social Governance. It is a typical set of business operating guidelines used for sustainable investing. It can be a really helpful guide for starting to think about Responsible Innovation, even though it can be a little cumbersome for startups. You can start off by taking steps to reduce your carbon emissions by identifying risk factors associated with your business and assessing their potential impact. Implementing ESG practices will have a positive impact on your organisation and community in the long run.
- Cultivate a sense of belonging
To be inclusive means to design innovation processes and activities so that they are open, accessible, safe and comfortable across different societal groups and allow all voices to be heard. Which allows for all sorts of ideas and solutions to be brought to the table. The best talent in the world will gravitate toward you if you can make them feel like they belong.
- Create values committees
If your values aren't protected as you scale, things will break, including your values. A values committee or a values representative can help ensure that as you develop, you stay committed to your principles and goals. To guarantee that key agreements, alliances, or even hiring decisions are in line with the organisation's values and objectives, a values committee might assess them.
It may feel new and daunting at first but will lead to better things for the environment, society and your organisation. We hope this article has given you some ideas on how to get started.
Reviewed by: Melanie Chan. Melanie is pursuing an M.A. in Responsibility in Science, Engineering, and Technology at the Technical University of Munich. Her main research interests lie at the intersection of global development and responsible research and innovation, looking at the social, ethical, and political dimensions of technology development and innovation processes. Professionally trained as a digital marketing and communication specialist, she currently assists various non-profit organisations and think tanks in their knowledge transfer initiatives related to responsible innovation.