Five keys to corporate social innovation

Via the Guardian

Written by Marc Pfitzer and Valerie Bockstette

The term “innovation” appears at least daily in Guardian Sustainable Business. That’s because innovation is the key to addressing the social and environmental challenges we face today. We need innovation to create more affordable health care services. We need innovation to bring nutritious food to every corner of the planet. We need innovation to improve educational outcomes. And most of all, we need innovation to counteract global warming.

Where will all this innovation come from? Civil society certainly is nimble and creative, but often lacks scale. Government certainly has resources and clout, but often lacks agility. Thus, businesses must play a key role in driving innovation to address these pressing needs – in ways that strengthen the bottom line. Corporations must find ways to create shared value for both society and their businesses.

This is, however, easier said than done.

Large companies, who can access today’s most promising talent pool, can theoretically out-innovate anyone else. But in practice, deeply engrained processes, cultures and incentive systems tend to quash innovations that threaten the status quo.

Trying to embrace social innovation, which requires breakthroughs that address societal needs and change conventional ways of doing business, seems a near-impossible feat. The road is paved with dozens of well-meaning corporate social-innovation pilots that never reached their impact potential.

And yet, some companies have managed to overcome conventional thinking and traditional business models. They’ve managed to bring social innovation into their businesses and profited as a result. They’ve hurdled obstacles such as short-term profit horizons, tunnel vision and lack of imagination.

To read the full article, please follow the link to the Guardian