Fast Company

Innovation Should be Change for the Greater Good

Christopher Hire, Innovator-In-Chief of 2thinknow, a global innovation agency, recently posted a blurb to Technorati's WTF urging creatives to define innovation, instead of leaving it up to technology companies and government bureaucrats. His agency belives: "Innovation is a change to benefit and advance mankind and civilization." To which Hire adds:

"Innovation should be about good DESIGN, about inspiration, about ART, about culture, about creativity, about nature and green."

And from his company's site:

"If it doesn't do good, if it doesn't excite and if it's not contagious, then it's not innovative. It's more fried chicken. And more unneeded change.

What do you think of Hire's take on innovation? Is he on to something? Are creatives not currently involved in many of the major innovations currently taking place? Is much of the so-called innovation currently taking place unneeded?

Of course I can't tell for sure, but I'm wondering if Hire is talking about such things as social networks and RSS readers, or perhaps even microblogging. Are these things unnecessary?

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7 Comments

  • Anne McCrady

    Creativity--the source for innovation (however we define it)-- is, in fact, an open activity with unpoliticized discovery at its core. While my personal agenda (see InSpiritry.com) is to work to use Inspiration for the Greater Good, I am also aware that the ultimate "goodness" (or "evil") of most new ideas is not always immediately apparent. I think it is often our intent for an idea, not the actual new knowledge itself, that we can define as being "for the Greater Good." While I applaud your vision of innovation, as a scientist and a poet, I would hate to think about censoring creativity of any kind.

  • belgrade

    No... actually art and science were not separate until after the Enlightenment, Da Vinci considered them 'one' and best embraced the principle.

    Art, design, creativity and culture are important, they are what create the pre-conditions for technology driven innovation. Try being innovative in a concrete box, or try being inspired in the Vatican.

    Some people will never get art-driven innovation.

    PS. Chris is a friend of mine. He's also right. Guys like Shapiro are wrong.

  • Kate

    This definition that innovation is about design and art and being green sounds like it was created to appeal to the current trends, and not like to actually describes the uniqueness of innovation. It does seem very myopic and as though the author simply wants to build interest in his firm

  • meryl steinberg

    Good for whom? What is good? Let's give it some thought. That which is expansive, inclusive, light, unselfish is good. That which is exclusive, dark, selfish... well, in my book that's not so good. Life. Good. Sustaining life: Good Promoting destruction and misery to make a enough money to buy a 2nd home (etal). Maybe not so good. Is this myopic.

  • Christopher Hire

    I thought I'd put my hand-up as my newsfeed picked this up.

    Innovation should be about creativity, and culture. Most of us can agree Michelangelos' Sistine Chapel, is one of the world's best artworks, so there are standards, and general agreement on 'great'. Middle is less agreeable.

    We should not aspire so much to 'tech-driven' ways to do mundane tasks like kill chickens so people can have 3 more nuggets in a box!

    we should aspire to be inspired, innovate ideas that help our fellow man. Sometimes it's hard to agree the greater good precisely, but i think we could all agree ending poverty might be part of it. Have we listened to our politicians too much that we believe dreams are not do-able?

    France has a brillian food supply, as does Austria. In Germany and France the subway are safe & run frequently and on time (except a few strikes). Why not in Australia, UK or the US cities?

    We have to be open minded and learn from others. the Greater good I was quoting is Ben Franklin. I think we can agree the Declaration of Independence was a case of the greater good...

    We should try at least to Support artists and creatives for innovation. Paris and Vienna do!

    I'm getting a lot of 'ahas' on this, so I'll be really interested to read/here any comments... even those in favour of new ways to kill & fry chicken.

    Christopher Hire, Hormonal-&-Chemical-Fried-Chicken-Free Innovator-In-Chief of 2thinknow(tm)

  • Amy Schwab

    When I read "If it doesn't do good, if it doesn't excite and if it's not contagious, then it's not innovative. . . And more unneeded change." I wonder, doing good for whom? Exciting or infecting whom? Unneeded by whom? Just who is qualified to decide? And what are the long tern implications?

    Of course, as a "creative" myself, I'm drawn to this sense of 'goodness' that Hire proposes. However, I think it too easily turns myopic. Many innovations that don't seem have any apparent social 'goodness' are later applied to really important problems. None of us has the ability to predict what will or will not ultimately prove important or spur an innovation that will solve the big problems of our time or those of the next generation.

  • Bob McInnis

    I would agree with Hire that tinkering for personal improvement isn't innovation. Improving/changing on an existing product, idea or practice ism't innovation. I like the idea of innovation for the greater good, it likely means that we would devote more energy to social causes and finding cures for disease than 1" screens or cramming 1000 gigs on the eye of a needle. True innovators can change civilization by using their skills outside their normal areas of expertise.