Social Innovation: The Game!

I just came across the game of EVOKE and you can still take part :).  It’s meant for young people in Africa but it’s open to everyone and it lasts 10 weeks…it finishes May 12th (we’ve already missed a few weeks but not to worry).

Once you have signed up (16,000 people have already) – your first mission is to “Master the mindset of a social innovator”.

Social innovators invent creative solutions to the world’s biggest problems.  We don’t wait for someone else to change the world.  We do it ourselves.

It’s a very cool design and the winners (those that blog and connect to initiatives using Facebook etc) can get an invite to the EVOKE summit in Washington.

The content on social innovation isn’t so hot though – the  “33 secrets of social innovation” is a real mix of ideas – from “see and do the obvious” to “work to practical, three year plans”  (since when has the idea of successful social innovations been based on 3 year plans?).  Other “secrets” include “don’t do anything that can’t reach a million people”.

Overly privileged are the ideas of technological solutions that impact large numbers of people.  Missing is the idea that social innovations can take a number of different forms –

a social innovation can be a product, production process, or technology…but it can also be a principle, an idea, a piece of legislation, a social movement, an intervention, or some combination of them (Phills et al., 2008, p. 39).

Also impact need not just be measured in millions but how well an innovation tackles a social problem – and this may be very localized.

There is some really interesting stuff here – such as how to innovate from within constraints (which seems a key issue for those students accessing EVOKE from a developing country) – and it’s great to see an engaging design that has already encouraged lots of participation.

It would be fantastic if in future versions of EVOKE (and I hope it happens) if they could connect with folk at the Young Foundation – who have developed a very practical framework for thinking about how to organize social innovation. The combination of high quality graphics with well researched content could be game-changing.

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