A framework for understanding social innovation

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Speaker: Dr. Frances Westley, J.W. McConnell Chair in Social Innovation at the University of Waterloo, SiG@Waterloo.

Published in: Business, Education

A framework for understanding social innovation

  1. 1. A Framework for Social Innovation Frances Westley [email_address] University of Waterloo November, 2008
  2. 2. What is social innovation? . <ul><li>Social innovation is an initiative, product or process which profoundly changes the basic routines , resource and authority flows or beliefs of any social system. Successful social innovations are therefore disruptive and have durability, impact and scale. </li></ul><ul><li>The role of: </li></ul><ul><li>Social Innovation Generation (SiG) </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>
  3. 3. Key messages <ul><li>Social innovation is complex: understanding the difference between complicated and complex is important in understanding the dynamics of social innovation </li></ul><ul><li>Market/diffusion models of social innovation should be complimented by complex system models which see change as discontinuous and focus on cross scale dynamics. </li></ul><ul><li>Agency and opportunity are both important. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Agency is defined not only by social entrepreneurship but by institutional entrepreneurship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional entrepreneurs tailor strategies to particular opportunity contexts. </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Santropol Roulant Eva’s Phoenix The Working Center Innovations abound….
  5. 5. How do innovations achieve a broader impact?A marketing strategy for “routine” change Hi control -innovation contained in the organization-spread by growth or clonign Lo control: Innovation spreads like weeds- advocacy, persuasion and a sense of mvt. Licensing and franchising - quality assurance and training Structured, open source methods - sometimes with payment, consultation or technical assistance Federations or control thru professional networks - helped by evaluation
  6. 7. Following a Recipe A Rocket to the Moon Raising a Child Complicated Complex Simple
  7. 8. Following a Recipe <ul><li>The recipe is essential </li></ul><ul><li>Recipes are tested to assure replicability of later efforts </li></ul><ul><li>No particular expertise; knowing how to cook increases success </li></ul><ul><li>Recipe notes the quantity and nature of “parts” needed </li></ul><ul><li>Recipes produce standard products </li></ul><ul><li>Certainty of same results every time </li></ul>Simple
  8. 9. Following a Recipe A Rocket to the Moon <ul><li>Formulae are critical and necessary </li></ul><ul><li>Sending one rocket increases assurance that next will be ok </li></ul><ul><li>High level of expertise in many specialized fields + coordination </li></ul><ul><li>Separate into parts and then coordinate </li></ul><ul><li>Rockets similar in critical ways </li></ul><ul><li>High degree of certainty of outcome </li></ul>Complicated <ul><li>The recipe is essential </li></ul><ul><li>Recipes are tested to assure replicability of later efforts </li></ul><ul><li>No particular expertise; knowing how to cook increases success </li></ul><ul><li>Recipes produce standard products </li></ul><ul><li>Certainty of same results every time </li></ul>Simple
  9. 10. Following a Recipe A Rocket to the Moon Raising a Child <ul><li>Formulae are critical and necessary </li></ul><ul><li>Sending one rocket increases assurance that next will be ok </li></ul><ul><li>High level of expertise in many specialized fields + coordination </li></ul><ul><li>Rockets similar in critical ways </li></ul><ul><li>High degree of certainty of outcome </li></ul><ul><li>Formulae have only a limited application </li></ul><ul><li>Raising one child gives no assurance of success with the next </li></ul><ul><li>Expertise can help but is not sufficient; relationships are key </li></ul><ul><li>Can’t separate parts from the whole </li></ul><ul><li>Every child is unique </li></ul><ul><li>Uncertainty of outcome remains </li></ul>Complicated Complex <ul><li>The recipe is essential </li></ul><ul><li>Recipes are tested to assure replicability of later efforts </li></ul><ul><li>No particular expertise; knowing how to cook increases success </li></ul><ul><li>Recipes produce standard products </li></ul><ul><li>Certainty of same results every time </li></ul>Simple
  10. 11. Following a Recipe A Rocket to the Moon Raising a Child <ul><li>Formulae are critical and necessary </li></ul><ul><li>Sending one rocket increases assurance that next will be ok </li></ul><ul><li>High level of expertise in many specialized fields + coordination </li></ul><ul><li>Separate into parts and then coordinate </li></ul><ul><li>Rockets similar in critical ways </li></ul><ul><li>High degree of certainty of outcome </li></ul><ul><li>Formulae have only a limited application </li></ul><ul><li>Raising one child gives no assurance of success with the next </li></ul><ul><li>Expertise can help but is not sufficient; relationships are key </li></ul><ul><li>Can’t separate parts from the whole </li></ul><ul><li>Every child is unique </li></ul><ul><li>Uncertainty of outcome remains </li></ul>Complicated Complex <ul><li>The recipe is essential </li></ul><ul><li>Recipes are tested to assure replicability of later efforts </li></ul><ul><li>No particular expertise; knowing how to cook increases success </li></ul><ul><li>Recipe notes the quantity and nature of “parts” needed </li></ul><ul><li>Recipes produce standard products </li></ul><ul><li>Certainty of same results every time </li></ul>Simple
  11. 12. <ul><li>Complicated – “ complicare ”- folded </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Verb - to fold </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Complex – “ complexus ” – woven </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Verb – to embrace or comprehend a pattern </li></ul></ul>
  12. 14.                                                                                          Capital Stored Released Variety Sameness An idea is born The idea is developed The idea is launched as a product, process or organization An “established” innovation
  13. 15. A model for complex and discontinuous change: cross scale interactions                                                                                         
  14. 16. Social Innovation Political system Economic system Cultural system Legal system Social entrepreneur Institutional entrepreneurs + actor nets Interorganizational/ intersectoral system Local/organizational system
  15. 17. What is an institution <ul><li>“ A patterned set of behaviors and meanings which structure social behavior over time” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Embedded in our language and our understandings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Embedded in our rules for social behavior; including in our laws. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Embedded in our economy, including resource distribution </li></ul></ul>
  16. 18. What is the role of the institutional entrepreneur <ul><li>To change the ideas, discourse, knowledge, social interactions, resource expenditures, and policies/laws which support environmental destruction to a new pattern which supports a particular innovation. </li></ul><ul><li>To work across scales and boundaries and with multiple agents (agent net) in the “institutional field” </li></ul>
  17. 19. Institutional entrepreneurs tune strategies of resource mobilization to different opportunity contexts of social innovation :
  18. 22. Designing strategies for cross scale impact when change opportunity is opaque : “ up-down strategies” <ul><li>Innovation occurs in the community in the context of organizations/coalitions addressing specific issues - where problems are solved in real time </li></ul><ul><li>Social innovators/institutional entrepreneurs key role is to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>question the strategic context/directions of decision makers in all sectors at the community level and beyond. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>frame (explain) the context for community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>identify key innovations at the community level (those most pertinent to the strategies) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>sell these to the key strategic decision makers (finding the right moment to introduce the key innovation) </li></ul></ul>
  19. 23. National communications strategy -tell the story Political C1 C2 C3 social financing Senate commission: report and media attention Legal Identification of system pathologies and promising innovations “ First response” strategy Committees PR Seed innovations Institutional entrepreneurs+ actor net Example 1: A movement for Mental Health…. .
  20. 25. Example 2 :Saving Endangered Species
  21. 26. Interpersonal and knowledge management competencies required <ul><li>Interpersonal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Convening </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conflict management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facilitation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Knowledge management </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Creating a common vision </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enhancing sensemaking </li></ul></ul>
  22. 28. Example 3. Plan Canada and the RDSP <ul><li>“ Every innovation has two parts: the first is the invention of the thing itself; the second is the preparation of expectations so that when the invention arrives it seems both surprising and familiar -something long awaited” Edwin Land </li></ul><ul><li>The social innovators + </li></ul><ul><li>The institutional entrepreneurs </li></ul>
  23. 29. Interpersonal and Knowledge skills required <ul><li>Building social capital and mobilizing it in support of novelty </li></ul><ul><li>Building intellectual/cultural capital and mobilizing it in support </li></ul><ul><li>Building financial capital and mobilizing it in support </li></ul><ul><li>Recognizing and championing innovative idea </li></ul><ul><li>Connecting the idea to “windows of opportunity” at multiple scales </li></ul><ul><li>System understanding and emerging pattern recognition </li></ul>
  24. 31. Example 4: The Great Bear Rain Forest
  25. 32. Social-Ecological Significance <ul><li>25% of world’s Coastal Temperate Rainforest </li></ul><ul><li>Richest bio-mass on earth </li></ul><ul><li>100+ pristine valleys (none in US) </li></ul><ul><li>20%+ of the world’s wild salmon Spirit bears, wolves, grizzlies </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural, economic and social significance: competing claims </li></ul>
  26. 33. Competing Claims <ul><li>Activists, logging companies, researchers, First Nations, Government….all laid claim1990s: widespread Land Use Plans </li></ul><ul><li>From mid-1980s-mid-1990s -conflict and blockades in Clayoquot Sound: mass arrests raise the stakes </li></ul>
  27. 34. Final Agreements <ul><li>Permanent protection – 5 million acres </li></ul><ul><li>New parks - 3.3 million acres </li></ul><ul><li>Previous parks - 1 million acres </li></ul><ul><li>New no-logging zones - 736,000 acres </li></ul><ul><li>EBM – 21 million acres </li></ul><ul><li>$35 million mitigation package for forest workers </li></ul><ul><li>$120 Million for conservation economy </li></ul><ul><li>First Nations approve all plans </li></ul><ul><li>International Marketplace shift </li></ul><ul><li>Model used in Chile, Boreal, USA </li></ul>
  28. 35. Facing the Shadow <ul><li>Forest workers: “capuccino-sucking urban enviros” </li></ul><ul><li>First Nations: “eco-colonialists” </li></ul><ul><li>Forest Companies: “they are trying to destroy us and the province we care about” and dueling scientists </li></ul><ul><li>Government: “irresponsible” and “enemies of BC” </li></ul><ul><li>Other environmentalists: “corporate sell-outs” </li></ul><ul><li>Grains of truth= “breathe” </li></ul>
  29. 36. In sum….the process of transformation: <ul><li>International level - inside out strategy - using global market resources to reframe provincial “playing field” </li></ul><ul><li>Fertile ground fo innovation </li></ul><ul><li>Negotiation level =Change in stance: Owning the shadow of environmentalism – solutions space </li></ul>
  30. 37. The essence of an innovation <ul><li>A change in meaning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- “branding” The Great Bear Rain Forest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ reframing” from the “war in the woods” to a generative collaboration </li></ul></ul><ul><li>New patterns of resource flows </li></ul><ul><ul><li>social financing and the conservation economy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>New relationships and practices </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An experience of integration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Different logging technologies become viable; different networks for product distribution </li></ul></ul>
  31. 38. Continues to stimulate <ul><li>Market demands for “Ancient Forest Friendly” papers </li></ul><ul><li>Additional innovations: the “conservation economy” takes hold </li></ul><ul><li>New forms of social financing - Coastal Opportunities funds, First Nations forestry companies </li></ul>
  32. 39. Interpersonal and knowledge skills needed <ul><li>Building coalitions </li></ul><ul><li>Managing conflict </li></ul><ul><li>Securing capital for a focused momentum </li></ul><ul><li>Building vertical commitments </li></ul><ul><li>Social Marketing </li></ul><ul><li>Bridging perspectives and kinds of knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Owning the shadow </li></ul>
  33. 40. Summary <ul><li>To understand social innovation demands a complexity perspective </li></ul><ul><li>To understand how social inventions have a broad impact, marketing models can only tell part of the story </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-scale dynamics are key and institutional entrepreneurs + actor nets are as important for impact as are social entrepreneurs. </li></ul><ul><li>Institutional entrepreneurs draw on a range of transactional and translational skills and competencies to manage different phases of social innovation for greater impact. </li></ul>
  34. 41. <ul><li>“ Farmers don’t grow crops. They create the conditions for crops to grow.” - Gareth Morgan </li></ul>

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