What criteria should be used to implement a responsible innovation approach? (2/5)
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What criteria should be used to implement a responsible innovation approach? (2/5)

This article is part of a series on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). 

Not yet familiar with this concept? Check out our definition!

Four criteria have been proposed by researchers Jack Stilgoe, Richard Owen and Phil Macnaghten to frame RRI: the A.R.I.R. criteria, which have become a reference in the scientific literature and have been integrated into European tools (RRI tools). 

1. Anticipation

Responsible innovation must anticipate its impact on society and the planet. 

This means measuring all the direct and indirect impacts of innovations in the short AND long term and ensuring, at each stage of the process, that the current and future opportunities and risks for the company and its entire ecosystem are assessed.

The RRI ecosystem is not only understood as customers and beneficiaries, but the whole of society, citizens, future generations, as well as the whole of the living world, therefore the planet.

This RRI posture makes it possible to avoid the binary debate for / against technical progress (techno-solutionism vs. technophobia).

It is about anticipating the impacts of technological innovation (negative and positive) in order to orient its development in a responsible way, i.e. transforming its core business to aim for a positive impact.

📣 This is the principle that founds the “innovation-care” formulated by Xavier Pavie, Professor at ESSEC Business School Paris: an innovation that takes into account all the interdependencies between individuals, companies, nations, citizens and environment.

2. Reflexivity

Ask yourself the question “What can my innovation be used for?

Faced with the unbridled quest for technological exploit and permanent innovation, to the detriment of society’s real needs, the first question to ask concerns the relevance of one’s innovation. With regard to society’s needs and expectations, and then the anticipated impacts.

This reflective posture most often allows it to rethink, reorient its innovation process, or even to abandon a project if it does not prove to be relevant.

📣 It is not because you can sell it that this innovation must exist.

3. Stakeholder Inclusion

We need to move from a reduced ecosystem (customers/company) to an extra broad conception of stakeholders.

Faced with complex and ecosystemic issues, collaboration can enable a more effective and rapid response thanks to the diversity of viewpoints and expertise.

An RRI approach must take into account the perspectives and expertise of as many stakeholders as possible. This implies identifying all the actors who may be affected by and/or interested in the planned innovation, and integrating them into the design and development process from the outset and throughout the project, with the possibility of intervening and participating in the decision-making process. Yes, even in the part that takes place in the laboratory!

Including stakeholders from the beginning of the RRI process increases the ability to anticipate impacts by bringing together a multiplicity of viewpoints.

Stakeholder inclusion should not be limited to the diversity of actors involved, it should also include the exploration of a diversity of options: stakeholders help the company to challenge itself.

 Is this the only possible option?

It is time to move beyond the idea that there is only one possible “technological path”, with a linear and dominant vision of technical progress. There are many forks in this technological path: companies must think through their choices and the directions they decide to take with the help of society.

4. Responsiveness

RRI implies the ability to modify or reorient the project and the process in the face of an evolving context, upon reading intermediate results and according to the various feedbacks from stakeholders.

📣  In a current context marked by crises, a great capacity of reactivity proves to be essential in the innovation process.

🔥 In short

The RRI criteria therefore imply a deep reflection that requires a strategic commitment and a strong will of the top management (the executive and his board of directors).

To what degree are your shareholders committed to these issues and how ready are you to start these reflections?

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