Social Innovation News – 10th August 2010

A quick scan of the web over the last few weeks…

1. A couple of posts on what makes social innovation distinct – one by Tim Draimin (Social Innovation Generation) on the demise of Corporate Social Responsibility and heralding its replacement – Corporate Social Innovation – and another by Adil Abrar that sees social innovation as the “new rave“.

2. Lots on social innovation and technology (esp internet) as usual.  A quick scan – Social Innovation Clouds – an article on how governments can use technology to engage citizens to achieve “network-powered social innovation”, an interview with Charles Leadbeater in The Guardian, and a new crowdsourcing platform – OpenIDEO – where your contributions can build your personal DQ which has nothing to do with Dairy Queen :) (all explained in their promo video).

3. Some blogs to check out – eg Conversations for a Better World, to The Gates Notes and IDE

6. And some research articles:

Goldstein, J., Hazy, J. K., & Silberstang, J. (2010). A Complexity Science Model of Social Innovation in Social Enterprise. Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, 1(1), 101. doi:10.1080/19420671003629763

Biggs, R., Westley, F., & Carpenter, S. (2010). Navigating the Back Loop: Fostering Social Innovation and Transformation in Ecosystem Management. Ecology & Society, 15(2), 1-25. [Post to follow].

7. And finally, there are 11 winners of the US Social Innovation Fund.

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Social Innovation Conversation – Charles Leadbeater

There is an interesting podcast with Charles Leadbeater on social innovation released this month by the Australian Social Innovation Exchange. Leadbeater argues that user-led innovation, where needs are articulated and shaped by users rather than producers, is needed for many social innovations. For Leadbeater, social innovations are a collaborative and participatory response to social needs that are currently inadequately met. He predicts it will be a time of upheaval and disruption for large organizations, especially in the public sector, as the interest in social innovation grows. He briefly mentions the idea of “latent capacity” – the idea of untapped knowledge and potential in a community that, with the right tools, could be focused on tackling social problems.

There is a sense that Leadbeater is using social innovation to cast a vision. User-led innovation is still in its infancy – the examples of Mountain Biking, Wikipedia and Linux are promising but it is unclear how this approach might work on social problems that are complex and contested. Continue reading

Transforming education in the developing countries

Here is a TED Talk released today by Charles Leadbeater on the topic of education in developing countries.  He argues that the western model of education just doesn’t fit the challenges of everyday life in many of these countries.  Leadbeater provides examples of novel approaches to education around the world and considers how they might be shared with the other thousands/millions of children and adults seeking education. He argues for a “Chinese Restaurant” approach to diffusion over a McDonald’s…in other words schools share similar principles but don’t look the same.

There are Chinese restaurants everywhere, but there is no Chinese restaurant chain. Yet, everyone knows what is a Chinese restaurant. They know what to expect, even though it’ll be subtly different and the colors will be different and the name will be different. You know a Chinese restaurant when you see it. These people work with the Chinese restaurant model. Same principles, different applications and different settings. Not the McDonald’s model. The McDonald’s model scales. The Chinese restaurant model spreads.

Continue reading