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