Social Innovation & Special Effects

What perhaps distinguishes social innovation from any other type of innovation is its concern with effects.  In other words, what difference does it make, and proponents of social innovation are upfront in what they expect to see.

For Phills et al. (2008) –  a novel solution to the social problem qualifies as a social innovation only if it is “more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than existing solutions and for which the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals (Phills et al., 2008, p. 36). This effect – known as “social value” – involves creating benefits or reducing societal costs in ways that “go beyond the private gains and general benefits of market activity” (Phills et al., 2008, p. 39).

The challenge is then to work out what qualifies.  Continue reading

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 Continue reading

Participation & Social Innovation: The ‘real thing’

One thing stands out when scanning the literature on social innovation.  Participation.  You just can’t get around it – the act of working on novel solutions to social problems involves a crowd.

What’s surprising then is that many of the detailed examples of social innovation focus on the work of particularly special people (Bornstein, 2007; Elkington & Hartigan, 2008).

We know that behind these social entrepreneurs are lots of people playing crucial enabling and support roles – providing expertise and funding.

We also know that people can come together and produce amazing things as the numerous examples on the web demonstrate – such as Ohmynews that uses web based technology to involve citizen journalists in South Korea or ReachOut! – a web-based peer-to-peer approach to tackle depression among young people that started in Australia and is now spreading in the US.

Less known, and perhaps more important, is the crucial element of participation by those with a direct experience of the social problem.

Continue reading