Archive for the ‘Social innovation’ Category
This timely textbook, reflecting the trends and developments in the nonprofit sector over the past decade, encompasses the core competencies required to lead nonprofit organizations through social innovation and impact during the 21st century. It fills a knowledge gap for leaders, managers, practitioners, students, faculty members, and providers in this rapidly growing field by providing a comprehensive framework for how to run and manage nonprofits. This includes all of the tools needed to affect social change through ethical business practices, management and leadership business strategies, social marketing, and policy analysis across government, nonprofits, and philanthropy.
The latest trend in our quest to fix the global challenges of the 21st century is to ‘lab’ complex issues. In short, a lab is a container for social experimentation, with a team, a process and space to support social innovation on a systemic level. These social innovation labs are popping up all over the world and are quickly acquiring star status among funders and governments. Zaïd Hassan coins the emergence of labs as a “social revolution” for its ability to tackle large challenges, such as dramatically reducing global emissions, preventing the collapse of fragile states, and improving community resilience. The rise of labs is partially explained in the transformative promise that they bare, namely that they function as vehicles to combat our social ills by achieving systemic change. In this regard, labs do not operate alone in their endeavour, but form part of the ever expanding “family of the social”, which refers to concepts and practices that rely more and more on citizens to act “prosocially”, both individually and collectively.
Nonprofits and other social change organizations are lagging their counterparts in the scientific and business communities in collecting and analyzing the vast amounts of data that are being generated by digital technology. Four steps need to be taken to improve the use of big data for social innovation. A large chasm exists between the potential of data-driven information and its actual use in helping solve social problems. Some social problems can be readily solved using big data, such as using traffic data to help ease the flow of highway traffic or using weather data to predict the next hurricane. But what if we want to use data to help us solve our most human and critical social problems, such as homelessness, human trafficking, and education? And what if we not only want to solve these problems but do so in a way that the solutions are sustainable for the future? Social problems are often what are called “wicked” problems. Not only are they messier than their technical counterparts, they are also more dynamic and complex because of the number of stakeholders involved and the numerous feedback loops among inter-related components.
A couple of days ago, the European Commission chose the ten finalists of the second Social Innovation Competition, a contest launched last year in memory of Portuguese computer scientist and politician Diogo Vasconcelos. The contest was set up to encourage and reward social innovations that have a real impact on helping unemployed people get jobs or create new opportunities for work across the Union. The ten project were selected among over 1,200 proposals. Though not strictly “technological”, most of these projects have some tech in them, mainly in the use of the Internet as a social interaction platform, and, in some cases, in the development of innovative recycling processes to produce new stuff from waste. See below a quick summary of the proposals.
The Internet and Social Media change our way of decision-making. We are no longer the independent decision makers we used to be. Instead, we have become networked minds, social decision-makers, more than ever before. This has several fundamental implications. First of all, our economic theories must change, and second, our economic institutions must be adapted to support the social decision-maker, the “homo socialis“, rather than tailored to the perfect egoist, known as “homo economicus“.
The financial, economic and public debt crisis has seriously damaged our trust in mainstream economic theory. Can it really offer an adequate description of economic reality? Laboratory experiments keep questioning one of the main pillars of economic theory, the “homo economicus“. They show that the perfectly self-regarding decision-maker is not the rule, but rather the exception. And they show that markets, as they are organized today, are undermining ethical behavior.
A swarm organization is a decentralized, collaborative effort of volunteers that looks like a hierarchical, traditional organization from the outside. It is built by a small core of people that construct a scaffolding of go-to people, enabling a large number of volunteers to cooperate on a common goal in quantities of people not possible before the net was available.
Working with a swarm requires you to do a lot of things completely opposite from what you learn at an archetypal business school. You need to release the control of your brand and its messages. You need to delegate authority to the point where anybody can make almost any decision for the entire organization. You need to accept and embrace that people in the organization will do exactly as they please, and the only way to lead is to inspire them to want to go where you want the organization as a whole to go.
It is only as you release that control, the kind of control that organizations and managers have held close to heart for centuries, that you can reap the benefits of the swarm: the same cost-efficiency advantage and execution-speed advantage against the competition that the Swedish Pirate Party enjoyed. This book will teach you those methods, from the initial forming of the swarm to its growth and ongoing maintenance and delivery. It will not teach you the underlying theory of psychology and sociology — merely share experiences and methods that have been proven to work in practice.
The Solution Revolution: How Business, Government, and Social Enterprises Are Teaming Up to Solve Society’s Toughest Problems
We’re at a critical juncture in our global economy, with the siloed ways of the past (public vs. private) quickly fading. Instead, we are witnessing a step change in how society deals with its own problems, in which government acts as just one player among many, and entrepreneurship and innovation range freely across all sectors. Deloitte’s William Eggers and Paul Macmillan illustrate this new operating model in the forthcoming book, The Solution Revolution.
The authors show that over the past decade, a variety of new and important players have entered the societal problem solving arena, operating within what they call a “Solution Economy.” These innovators are closing the widening gap between what governments provide and what citizens need, an approach that promises better results, lower costs, and the best hope we have for public innovation in an era of fiscal constraints and unmet needs.
We’re still in the early stages of the solution economy’s development, but Eggers and Macmillan compellingly lay out the contours of the phenomenon, as well as its primary features, dynamics, and players. They provide advice to business, government, and the social sector on what they can do to strengthen and spread the larger revolution, both locally and globally. The Solution Revolution provides a fascinating preview of our economic future, a system where choice, sustainability, and more adaptive ecosystems offer all of us the ability to collaborate towards better solutions.
In complex systems there is a lot to pay attention to. Mindfulness and contemplative inquiry built into the organization can be a way to deal with complexity and help detect the weak signals that will make it thrive and be resilient in the face of challenges.
Creating an organizational culture where open sharing, questioning, experimentation, and attention to the adjacent possibles that come from the data and experiences from operations is the foundation for a mindful organization. This means slowing down, valuing non-doing instead of the constant push to action, cultivating contemplative inquiry and reflection, while also being clear about the directions that matter. Thus, strategy in this case is not divorced from mindfulness, rather it gently frames a directionality of effort. In doing so, it creates possibilities for innovation, attention to quality, and a mechanism for building resiliency within organizations and those working with them and within them. In creating these mindful systems we move closer to making sense of complexity and better prepare ourselves for social innovation.
For Deleuze, social innovation takes place through windows of opportunity for social creativity (ie. along lines of flight) which emerge as challenges to institutional legitimacy. Innovation often emerges from conflict. Opportunity spaces often are at micro-levels which make possible creative strategies at macro-levels.
The aim is …to find the conditions under which something new is produced … how are the production and appearance of something new possible. The new … calls forth forces in thought that are not the forces of recognition, today or tomorrow, but the powers of a completely other model, from an unrecognised and unrecognisable terra incognita.
What might forces of social innovation look like? Forces would include discourse, materialities, power, subjectivations, codings/territorialisations, ie. a robust theoretical combination of Deleuzean axes and Foucauldian dispositif.
The Centre for Social Innovation provides its members with the spaces, relationships and knowledge they need to translate ideas to impact. We’re part coworking space, part community center and part incubator for people and organizations that are changing the world. More importantly, the Centre for Social Innovation is a place of possibility. We know that society is facing complex economic, environmental, social and cultural challenges. We also know that new innovations are the key to turning these challenges into opportunities to improve our lives, our communities and our planet. All around the world, people are striving to prove that another way forward is possible. They know—as we do—that it’s up to us to create the world we want to live in. We’re inviting New York City’s social entrepreneurs, nonprofits, creatives and innovators to help us build CSI Starrett-Lehigh into a nexus of innovation and transformation. Together, we’ll catalyze new ideas for a better world.