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Should we only innovate for good causes?


Author: Marizanne Knoesen

I don’t tweet often. Something really has to make an impression on me or hit a nerve, before I will retweet it. Last week though, I had such a moment. 

While I think this whole list has some nifty arguments, the first one really resonates with me. Innovation has become such a widespread term, a buzzword, terminology of the in-crowd. This is all well and good, but what many people and organizations forget, is that innovation just for the sake of innovation won’t bring you anywhere in the long term. 


We live in an age filled with many challenges. Aside from the fact that I believe it is irresponsible when people disregard these challenges or even add to them, I think the world needs all the help it can get. Allow me to explain. The energy that you and your team exert to operationalize a cupcake ATM could have just as well been used to brainstorm measures to address food waste. Some estimate that about one third ($1 trillion’s worth) of global food never gets consumed. This happens when one in nine people do not have enough food to eat (World Food Programme statistics). In 2015 we must be able to do better than this! 

Often people make the mistake of thinking that there’s no money or little money to be made in solving real problems, but it is the constant gnawing of the little foxes that will make the market pay attention when you propose solutions.  Sure, you might have a lucky break and make some money selling a ‘nice-to-have’, but without substance you will soon find yourself back at square one. 

I’ve long been a proponent of the ‘just because we can, doesn’t mean we should’ movement. Yes, we can create things like the HAPIfork, an electronic gadget that alerts you when you are eating too fast, but should we? Should we use our precious time and resources on such ventures? Instead of proving your innovation potential by bringing us the HAPIfork, ‘wow’ the world by showing how your business model incorporates and supports the triple bottom line. However, one example of an innovation that actually does good in the world is the recently launched INNOVO for Good initiative. This essentially means that a company or individual that introduces other members to the network can choose to donate their 4% share to a charity of their choice with INNOVO administering this whole process. It’s business for good, built into its DNA. 

(For those who need some background information: The INNOVO model is based on Suppliers’ saving and then sharing these savings with Buyers through an INNBATE. 60% of the INNBATE goes to the Buyer, with 40% going to INNOVO. 4% of the total INNBATE is earmarked for whoever introduces the Supplier. With INNOVO for Good, the introducer can choose to donate this to a specific charity for a period of two years. Thereafter INNOVO will still donate the 4% to a charity selected by INNOVO)

I think we tend to forget that innovation has enormous potential and we need to make an effort to set the bar a lot higher. I am sure that this could be the start of a valuable new trend. Onwards and upwards!  

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