Social innovation is elegantly defined by Ingrid Burkett as, “the design and implementation of better ways to harness assets and meet needs, for the benefit of people and the planet”.
We often get stuck by only being able to see small variations on the way we currently do things, but expect a significant change in the outcomes to be created. In order to transform the outcome, we also need to transform the approach.
We need to:
- involve new players and create new partnerships
- look to other disciplines, and learn
- involve beneficiaries as part of the innovation
- look to the data, including relationships between different data sets
- use a multi-stakeholder approach in the design process, and build a common vision and language
- embed ongoing evaluations, so as to learn and adjust
- build the capability of all partners to implement in a different way
- reshape the environment in which that implementation takes place
Other Key Players
There are a number of other organisations that support social innovation in Australia, including:
- The Australian Centre for Social Innovation
- Social Innovation in Western Australia
- Social Innovation Sydney
- Steve Lawrence Social Innovation Fund
- GiveEasy has created an Innovation Index for not-for-profits in Australia
Internationally, social innovation organisations include:
- Young Foundation
- Nesta is a leading innovation charity based in the UK
- Social Innovation Exchange
- Social Innovation Generation in Canada
- Centre for Social Innovation at Stanford University
- The White House has an Office for Social Innovation and Civic Participation as well as a Social Innovation Fund
What to Read
- Social Innovation Labs are also a growing phenomenon. The Rockefeller Foundation have a series of articles that explore this work and its impact: How Social Innovation Labs Design and Scale Impact and How Social Innovation Labs Contribute to Transformative Change
- The Harvard Business Review’s on innovation In November 2014 Sometimes the Best Ideas come from Outside your Industry speaks to the need to be eclectic when looking for real break-through ideas, with some useful examples.
- The Impact Investing Policy Collaborative have authored an insightful article from the Institute of Responsible Investing on the lessons learnt from the social innovation fund in Portugal
- Geoff Mulgan, Director of the Young Foundations, is an international leader in social innovation. You can watch some of his TedX presentations here.