6 supports that enable (social) innovation

There are a few ideas that have been pretty uniform in the interviews we have been conducting, and reflections we’ve been having for the past few months…

– People are important –getting the right people around the table greatly enhances the ‘innovation’; the more cross-sector work that is done, the more ideas are shared and expertise mixed, the better the outcomes. The SIX Network, the Euclid Network, all these networks are a testament to the fact that people want to learn from each other

– Information needs to be accessible to everyone; open and shared – social innovation is about ideas that are shared amongst people; learning from others what works and what doesn’t work; it’s important for knowledge to be shared and disseminated as widely as possible, especially failures as it helps people really learn and understand – Infrastructure to help replicate and expand – we’re not only talking about the hard infrastructure such as internet connections, roads, etc, but finance and other types of ‘soft infrastructure’/platforms that create an environment that is ripe for social innovation is important. The support that Ashoka gives to its Fellows for example is a great example of this

– The environment created within a society and culture – this is very difficult to express in words, but people/organisations/cultures need to be willing to test out new ideas, be willing to fail, and be more creative in the way they work. The government/political context, the universities, civil society, private sector – all work in collaboration to create an ethos that is needed for social innovation to flourish. In Thailand, for example, there is a big push towards supporting innovation with the creation of the Thailand Social Enterprise Office (TSEO) and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation which is doing some really interesting work. The Thai government is keen to create and promote a culture of innovation, which looks really promising

– Locality is becoming a strong way for people to connect with each other in an increasingly globalised world. People are wanting to reconnect with their local communities and neighbourhoods; focus on building communities and increasing capacity in the place they reside. Look at the Slow Food movement around the world or community architecture initiatives like CODI in Thailand

– Individuals as decision makers in their own lives – increasingly there is a move towards individuals are being in charge of their own lives and destinies; empowering people to make their own decisions about their health, their life choices

– The media is a large player in promoting, supporting, and fostering social innovation. Social media is of course one of the best tools, but so is courting local/national media to one’s own advantage. People and organisations who are making a difference understand the importance of having the media on one’s side

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