The phrase “move
fast and break things” famously
uttered by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been ingrained in entrepreneurship
for years, becoming something of a motto for innovators and entrepreneurs worldwide.
are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough, claimed Zuckerberg back in
2009. This thinking celebrates disruptive innovation and creative destruction.
As a way of working it emphasises velocity, potentially at the expense of
quality. Zuckerberg’s quote came to not only epitomise start-up culture, but also
inspire an international movement, sparking events, TED talks, and best-selling
has evolved, and speed and disruption – in particular breaking things – is too
reductive a way to approach growth, innovation and entrepreneurship. Strong
evidence tells us that the public increasingly favour companies that are
addressing economic, social and environmental problems with integrity. And in
the age of COVID-19, this has been exacerbated. So now we ask: why can’t we
move fast and fix things instead?
development perspective, local impact enterprises are crucial. The disruptive
‘break stuff’ business approach is too big of a risk, and can do real harm when
stakeholders need to work together. We can’t afford to lose impact enterprises
to this mentality, not least because of the millions of consumers who would be
at risk as a result. As this
report states, public sector innovation is, at its core, about fixing
things. As this LSE
webinar suggests, moving too fast, and breaking anything, can actually lead
to harmful outcomes. We need a different mind-set: sustainable progress.
to fixing things, there is a strong case for stitching too: the stitching together of unlikely partners and
stakeholders for the greater good. Competitors and cross-sector organisations must
work together, not against each other. Combine this collaborative outlook with
the ‘fix it’ mentality of impact enterprises, and you’ve got a formidable force
thinking is fundamental to the core of TRANSFORM and the organisations within it: Unilever,
the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), and EY. We
work with local enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to truly
understand local behaviours, mind-sets and development issues, and create products
and services that fix problems.
impact enterprises that use their local knowledge, agility and expertise to
create innovative and creative products and solutions, and provide them with
access to distribution networks, business tools and insights, and marketing and
case of Kasha,
that provides women’s health and personal care products in Rwanda and Kenya. At Kasha they’ve used local know-how to
create a confidential digital ordering system that does not require internet
connectivity: making it as inclusive as possible. Their innovative platform collects
and analyses anonymous consumer data to deliver market insights on products,
brands and preferences.
example is HappyTap,
that provides portable and affordable sinks in Vietnam. The product was designed
to address a critical development issue in a country with very low rates of
handwashing. The HappyTap product removes structural barriers that prevent
people from habitually washing their hands with soap. It makes the process more
convenient, accessible and fun. Working alongside TRANSFORM, HappyTap is now expanding
into Bangladesh and optimising the product for integrated behaviour change
these enterprises, and the many others that we work with, are focused on one
specific goal: fixing things. They do not do this through being disruptive, but
by listening to the needs of consumers, partnering with others, and finding
ways to bridge gaps to create long-lasting behaviour change.
are at the frontline of addressing development challenges, but we all have a
role to play. A progressive and collaborative outlook based on fixing, rather
than breaking, and stitching – through collective action – is the solution:
even if that does contradict conventional entrepreneurial wisdom.