UTO's Responsible Innovation Workshop spotlights five guiding principles of the framework

This month the University Technology Office hosted its first-ever Responsible Innovation Workshop to outline its framework for a standard of ethics, respect and accountability being adopted across the organization. 

Over 50 UTO family members gathered to discuss the five core concepts, workshop facilitators shared insights and challenges they have faced in both the development of this charter, as well as in their own careers.

[caption caption="Chris Richardson presents the key takeaways and goals of the interactive workshop to attendees."] [/caption]

Here’s a look at the discussions surfaced around each of the five core principles of the framework:

1. Lead with the why 

Oftentimes, leading a new project with its "why" at the forefront translates into a continual exploration of its potential impact. Chris Deaton, UTO Product Owner and Community of Practice Facilitator, reminisced on a former complex project, where he found himself often asking: “Should we be doing this? Are we reaching the goals we want to for not only the company we’re working for, but the customers that we're trying to serve?” 

Barnaby Wasson, UTO Trainer and Instructional Designer, continued the discussion by expanding on the significance of those inquiries: “Part of this effort is to try to ensure that you're constantly asking why - not just at the beginning, but through the [full] route.” He continues, “There's not a lot of groups in higher education that [do] this. But again, if it’s not difficult, is it really worth doing?” 

2. Be human centered 

Centering equity and belonging in our work is how ASU honors its vibrant and diverse community. Wasson elaborated on this theme: “For those who have never crossed the threshold of a formal, higher-education campus, to be able to see themselves in that space...it empowers you to say, ‘Oh, I get it. I am meant to be included.’” 

Honoring this wider community can be a grand undertaking, as scale can exacerbate complexity: “We can get ourselves in trouble for not looking at the holistic manner,” acknowledged Chris Richardson, Deputy Chief Information Officer. “What can we do to really minimize issues as we're going fast with those stakeholders? [We can bring] them together to help us draft how we can incorporate these principles into our work. Use the charter to ground yourself, [and] think about how you can apply this to your day-to-day.”

3. Many voices make enlightened work

There are often “empty chairs” in the beginnings of a project — symbolic of those whose opinions, however valuable, were unintentionally excluded from early phases. This can impact the project in the long term, particularly its prospects for success: “We need to ensure we elevate them, invite them,” said Wasson. Emphasizing the need to involve numerous stakeholders every step of the way, he advises to consistently "reflect their voice, reflect their 'why's', back into the conversation."

4. Looking backwards and forward

Envisioning the future is critical to ensuring that the ethics of a project hold up: "How will this be used two generations out?" asks Chris Deaton, identifying the crux of the need to look forward. The past is a reliable teacher, but it is necessary to "anticipate rather than react.” Instead a light that flickers out, a positive impact that continues to burn bright over the years is the cornerstone of Responsible Innovation. "It's not [about] what we're taking to the market next week to be ‘number one in innovation,’” says Deaton, “it's what's going to last."

5. Water the grassroots

Nurturing one's team through individual empowerment, generous encouragement and internal openness aids in “watering the grassroots” of an organization. Bringing out the best in one another while also acknowledging healthy boundaries are ways in which a team can flourish when pursuing new initiatives. “Through innovation,” asked Wasson, "how do we today transform tomorrow, and enable tomorrow's future?" Watering the grassroots through connection and appreciation is the key.

Get involved

Interested in learning more, getting involved or submitting an exemplar of Responsible Innovation? Please join us on our Slack channel (#uto-responsible-innovation-guild) or visit our website to get started!