Giving Compass' Take:

• The authors explain how values-based innovation can make humanitarian organizations and their work more productive, and the principles to guide this type of development. 

• The basis for values-based innovation is that it can potentially change the way systems work by prioritizing community values in practice. How can donors finance creative global innovation? 

• Learn about the five ethical principles for humanitarian innovation and impact. 

Contrary to popular belief, innovation isn’t new to the humanitarian sector. Organizations like the Red Cross and Red Crescent have a long history of innovating in communities around the world. Humanitarians have worked both on a global scale—for example, to innovate financing and develop the Humanitarian Code of Conduct—and on a local level—to reduce urban fire risks in informal settlements in Kenya, for instance, and improve waste management to reduce flood risks in Indonesia.

Today, the aspiration to innovate extends to NGOs and donor communities, and has led to myriad approaches to brainstorming, design thinking, co-creation, and other activities developed to support novelty.

However, in the face of a more globalized, connected, and complex world, we need to, more than ever, position innovation as a bold and courageous way of doing things. It’s common for people to demote innovation as a process that tinkers around the edges of organizations, but we need to think about innovation as a tool for changing the way systems work and our practices so that they better serve communities.

Here we explore how values-based innovation can make the work organizations are already doing more effective, and more closely linked to their vision and mission. We’ve identified three values that drive our experimentation, as well as support our shift to a more normative approach to innovation that connects us even more to our organizational missions. Importantly, these values in action can serve people—at all levels within our institutions—who want to better ground their work in the vision and mission of their organization.

  • Principle 1: Collaborate Meaningfully and Ethically
  • Principle 2: Recognize Power Structures to Reimagine an Inclusive Future
  • Principle 3: Question Whose Voices We Value and Why

Read the full article about values based innovation for humanitarian action by Chris Earney & Aarathi Krishnan  at Stanford Social Innovation Review.