Modelling social innovation
1. Prompts, inspirations, and diagnosesSocial problems are not always obvious. Whether something is seen as social problem is dependent on the societal definition. Something that is accepted at the moment or in one society, might be questioned in the future or in a different country.
In this phase indicators for the need of social change are taken into account. This might be poor performance, insufficient provisions, cost cuts, out-dated processes, etc. These challenges are combined with inspirations – from creativity to latest evidence – in order to tackle the root causes, not only the symptoms.
2. Proposals and ideasIn this phase, we focus on idea generation and solution finding. Using creativity-supporting methods such as design thinking, crowd sourcing, or competitions helps to generate new approaches and perspectives to the problem. Just as in the example of the Gundeldinger Feld, collaboration and participation in this phase is important to prompt social innovation. Combining different logics and perspectives is a creative process that is necessary for innovation.
3. Prototyping and pilotsIn this phase, theory meets practice. The developed ideas and concepts have to be tested with prototypes and in pilot projects. Usually, this happens in a smaller setting, so that adoptions can be made easily. Learnings and practical understanding often lead to major changes in the concept and just as the prototypes of products, many different alternatives have to be tested, in order to find the perfect fit. The duration of this phase can be very different, from just a few weeks to several years.
4. SustainingAfter the proof of concept, the social innovation has to become sustaining. In this phase, the structures and process for a sustainable organization have to be developed. This includes especially governance structures, financial sustainability, and performance measurement. Thus, the business model – profit or nonprofit – has to be defined and the people involved need the right competencies to further develop the organization. In this phase, the founder generation often has to decide whether to go on or find better skilled executives.
5. Scaling and diffusion
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6. System changeThe final stage is system change. Thus, social innovation is part of a social change. However, only few social innovations ever reach this phase as a single action. Instead, many different social innovations – eventually in combination with technological innovations – lead to system change. System change is based on new coalitions, scientific evidence, new laws and norms, or the development of new professions.Altogether, these phases describe a pragmatic approach to analyze social innovation, but the development is not linear or consequential. Instead, every social innovation has its own dynamic and it is the task of a social initiative manager to allow for this dynamic.
ReferencesMurray, R., Caulier-Grice, J., Mulgan, G. (2010). The Open Book of Social Innovation. London: The Young Foundation & NESTA.
Entrepreneurship in Nonprofits
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