A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a talk by Kanika Gupta, founder of an organization called SoJo. Kanika spoke of something called “Social Innovation”, which refers to initiatives that aim to better society in some way. This could include causes related to healthcare, education, human rights, and many others. I think all of us in the audience were inspired. Was it such a stretch to think that a business could pay the light bill, and still do some general good at the same time? Why was it a surprise to see good intentions as part of a business plan?
Being a curriculum designer, my mind started mulling over the possibility of making social innovation part of learning materials. It’s a bit of a no brainer for educational resources. Global and social awareness are both vital 21st Century Skills, and from a young age, students are encouraged to be civic-minded.
What about corporate training materials? If a company isn’t in the business of philanthropy, could the idea of “doing good” still be worked into teaching tools? In my opinion, it’s not only possible, but beneficial.
Why would a company want to create training resources that promote or at least leave room for social innovation? Here are a few good reasons:
- Social awareness is a pretty positive thing to have associated with your brand. Employees can feel good about the intentions of the company for which they work, and clients can feel good about the company from which they’re purchasing.
- Getting involved in one’s community is a pretty effective way of meeting new and interesting contacts. SoJo itself functions on the notion that “there are no competitors, only collaborators.” By putting yourself out there as a company that wants to help, you’re likely to meet other like-minded companies who’d prefer to do business with someone like you.
- Note that the word “Innovation” is part of “Social Innovation.” Fostering an environment in which new and unique perspectives are welcome leads to the development of new and unique products and services.
- The “Social” part is also key, especially if your business provides services. Social Innovation encourages companies to keep tabs on what people actually need, as opposed to what they think people need.
- Working social innovation into your mission as a company also gives context to the work your employees do. They’re not just doing their jobs because they’re doing their jobs, but they have a broader understanding about how they’re actually serving some greater human need.
Social Innovation is an exciting new concept, and one that belongs in training materials, even if it’s just a small part of them. Whether your learners are employees, clients, or just the general public, it’s worth considering.
Amy Leask is VP of Enable Education. She’s a big fan of any business venture that makes it easier to sleep at night.
Adult Learners 2 Corporate Training 8 Lifelong Learners 6 Social Innovation 1