We often hear about innovation in a technological sense, new exciting developments where products are created, but social innovation is a term perhaps not as widely known? How would you describe the term, what does it mean to you?
Social innovation does suffer from a bit of an identity crisis sometimes, on both the ‘social’ and the ‘innovation’. Coupled together, they create more of a barrier to understanding and support than should rightly be there. An innovation is so often not new, just renewed or something innovated upon, to solve a challenge or improve the given circumstance. As you say, for technology that is pretty straightforward, in the marketplace and for the average person, we have a communication puzzle, for instance, and we create some kind of physical widget or a piece of software. I don’t see it any different on the social side – these are innovations and developments that solve a wide range of social problems, some of them very complex, some of them quite simple. We just have to be better about sourcing the solutions and telling the stories that solve these social obstacles. We see these solutions in the work that we do all the time – they might be product, a process, an organization or some kind of policy that innovatively solves the issue. But because they are not something that is mass marketed, take the computer mouse, for instance, there is not the widespread marketing and storytelling that leads to adoption, adaptation and scaling. We need to proactively fuel the social innovation machine.
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