Social innovation refers to an action that benefits the greater good of society. Social innovations respond to current complex social, cultural, economic, and environmental issues through the collaboration of several key stakeholders to develop new models of thinking and acting with a focus on improving the health of our societies. The open spaces within which social innovations occur are termed Social Labs. This is where solutions are brought forth by individuals and innovative processes are rapidly embedded into systems to create positive impact on society. Social innovations create a platform to develop effective, efficient, just, and sustainable solutions to current complex social issues.1
1 Adapted from Centre for Social Innovation, 2015. Retrieved from http://socialinnovation.ca/about/social-innovation
Prototyping can offer us a way to tackle complex social problems one small step at a time. The prototyping approach draws from the Lean model used by many business start-ups, and uses some of the same tools, such as the Lean Canvas. Especially when we’re dealing with the highly complex problem of food security, prototyping can help us figure out whether our assumptions about how change will happen are correct, before we invest all our resources in a strategy. For example, if we want to create an online food hub in a Nova Scotia town in order to increase local food sales for farmers, we might test that assumption by offering three items for sale, just to start. We would then collect data about how many people are buying, what they’re buying, and how that impacts farmers’ bottom line. If we assumed right, we could then decide to expand our strategy to offer 10 products, and be fairly confident that it’ll succeed. FoodARC’s partners have found prototyping to be a promising approach for working on food security, and we invite you to take a look at the resources below.
|Title:||Featured Story: Life's Too Short to Build Something Nobody Wants|
|Author(s):||Miranda Cobb, Ecology Action Centre|
|Date:||October 13, 2015|
This section presents stories and case studies of social innovation in action.
Do you have a story to share?
Contact FoodARC to have it featured here.
|Title:||What are Social Laboratories - The Art of Social Labs|
|Date:||Nov. 4, 2014|
Social labs are an approach to facilitating social innovation. Social labs create an opportunity for the use of multiple tools and strategies to bring about social change. Through the process of social issue investigation, deep reflection, and analysis, systems and social change are brought forth through creative and collaborative processes. Social labs work to enhance the health and sustainability of the system as a whole. Social labs create a space for multidisciplinary collaboration to address a complex social issue by creating exposure to new ideas, connecting people from diverse backgrounds, and allowing solutions to develop into feasible plans. The following video describes how social labs can be used to address specific social issues by bringing diverse people together to build shared understandings, reflect on the issues, and implement experimental solutions to broad social challenges.
|Author(s):||The Social Innovation Generation|
The Social Innovation Generation (SiG) is a collaborative partnership founded by The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, the University of Waterloo, the MaRS Discovery District, and the PLAN Institute. Their goal is to use social innovation techniques to address Canada’s social and ecological challenges and to create healthy, resilient, and vibrant systems nationwide. In recognition that new challenges arise and evolve within social innovation streams, they use an agile approach to create a culture of continuous social innovation in efforts to create the greatest impact towards social change. The following resource leads you to SiG’s rendition of social innovation that brings forth the history behind the social movement and the complexity that is involved in bringing about social change.
Collective impact is the shared commitment of key stakeholders and individuals from different backgrounds to collaborate and find solutions to complex social problems. The success of developing effective collective impact depends on five key areas, including a common agenda, shared measurement system, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone organizational support. Collective impact is most successful in contexts where multifaceted systemic change is needed to combat diverse social issues. The following resource delves further into the theory behind collective impact with a more detailed explanation of the five factors that influence its success.