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Social Innovation
© 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
You’re cordially invited to change the world:
Join the social innovation party
It’s a small world after all. And thanks to things like technology and social media
it’s getting smaller by the minute. Although it might sound cliché, the fates
of everyone on the planet are inextricably linked.1
Even the global economy is
tightly connected, and for this reason, many corporations are doing all they can
to make sure global partners are stable and thriving. It’s called social innovation,
and it’s when companies find innovative solutions to complex social and
environmental problems. It’s about organizations around the globe harnessing
core competencies, assets and resources to improve the global environment.2
And
it’s more than just social responsibility, philanthropy or even sustainability, but a
new way to achieve economic success.
Social innovation is really about converting challenges into opportunities.
Organizations increasingly realize that there is an economic benefit to solving
social and environmental problems. Social innovation is when companies use
these problems as opportunities to create new business concepts and ultimately,
develop products and new business models that solve challenges. As a result,
corporations are rethinking their business models in order to include social
innovation. Giving back takes a different form from philanthropy or charity;
social innovation can be done as part of a corporate strategy. Perhaps most
importantly, it can be profitable, too. A survey from PwC®
found that leaders
who target breakthrough or radical innovations expect their companies to grow
twice as fast as their less innovative peers in the upcoming years.3
You could say social innovation is the belle of the ball, and it has captured the
attention of leaders worldwide. For the past decade, interest in social innovation
has soared because it is a way to achieve sustainable economic growth. In
the United States, for example, President Barack Obama launched the Social
Innovation Fund, which provides grants to promising programs. In Europe, the
European Commission issued recommendations for fostering social innovations
and expanding them across the globe. The United Kingdom responded to
these propositions with the creation of the organization Big Society, which
is dedicated to finding and implementing the best social innovations. The
commitment extends to the Far East, too. In South Korea, Seoul Mayor Park
Won-Soon integrates social innovation approaches into the city. And in Japan,
1 “Social Innovation Creates Prosperous Societies.” Stanford Social Innovation Review, June-July 2013. Web. 03
Mar. 2014. http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/social_innovation_creates_prosperous_societies.
2 “Social Innovation.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Feb. 2014. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.
org/wiki/Social_innovation.
3 Forum, Skoll World. “The Critical Role Of Leadership In Driving Social Innovation.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine,
27 Dec. 2013. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/skollworldforum/2013/12/27/the-critical-role-of-
leadership-in-driving-social-innovation/.
© 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
social innovation was a key driver in rebuilding efforts following the 2011 tsunami
and nuclear disaster.4
In fact, economists estimate that between 50 and 80 percent
of economic growth comes from innovation and new knowledge.5
If only social innovation were as easy as it sounds. In reality, there can be
significant risks when embarking on social innovation. There’s a certain amount
of financial risk often associated with social innovation, not to mention that some
of the efforts might never progress as intended. It’s a difficult thing to do, and
companies should proceed with caution.
This Blue Paper®
is about social innovation and what it takes to be successful.
Again, it’s more than philanthropy or corporate social responsibility; it’s about
turning problems into profit. It will uncover some of the critical success factors for
social innovation, as well as the risks and drivers. You’ll find out why it’s important
to incorporate social innovation into your business model and how to partner
with social entrepreneurs to improve your chances for success. Consider this your
formal invitation to learn more. And bring your dancing shoes, because all you
need is an open mind and an inventive approach.
Social innovation: What’s the
party celebrating?
Corporate social innovation (CSI) is defined as the development and
implementation of new ideas (products, services and models) to meet social
needs. In simpler terms, it means harnessing the power of corporate talents to
solve a social or environmental problem. And, by solving real-world problems
through social innovation, a corporation could end up developing products they
never imagined, or reaching audiences they never knew existed. This broad
definition is all encompassing and is associated with diverse fields including fair
trade, distance learning, hospices, urban farming, waste reduction and restorative
4 Urama, Kevin, and Ernest Acheampong. “Social Innovation Creates Prosperous Societies.” Informing and
Inspiring Leaders of Social Change. Stanford Social Innovation Review, Summer 2013. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.
http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/social_innovation_creates_prosperous_societies.
5 Ibid.
Hewlett Packard on social innovation:
“Social innovation at HP centers on the belief that the same passion, energy,
and culture of innovation that make HP a successful company can also
be used to make a profound and positive social impact in the world. HP
Sustainability and Social Innovation helps share HP talent and technology
where they are needed most.”
Source: See How HP Is Making a Positive Difference around the World.” Social Innovation at HP.
N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.
© 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
justice. Social innovation can come from individuals, groups and associations,
the nonprofit sector, the market and the state.6
It is also applied to a wide range
of fields, including the environment, health care, education, welfare, food and
energy, to name a few.
Some of the world’s leading companies recognize that by harnessing innovation
for the public good they can manage risks, gain competitive advantage and even
enhance their reputation and stakeholder relationships. Such companies are
focusing on ways to integrate social innovation with areas such as research and
development, sourcing, manufacturing, marketing and product disposal. In the
process of creating solutions, it is also profoundly changing beliefs, basic practices,
resources and social power structures. As noted in an article from the Stanford®
Social Innovation Review (SSIR): “Social innovation provides a unique opportunity
to step back from a narrow way of thinking about social enterprises, business
engagement, and philanthropy and to recognize instead the interconnectedness
of various factors and stakeholders.”7
And why wouldn’t an organization improve the global economy if it meant
increasing profits in the process? When it works, social innovation
presents significant benefits to corporations as well as the greater good.
Some of the corporate benefits may include:
•	development of human capital;
•	improved operational efficiency;
•	organizational innovation;
•	better access to information;
•	enhanced reputation and credibility;
•	and, creation of a stable society.
In addition to making the world a better place, there are societal benefits as well.
When it’s implemented as intended, it can:
•	increase access to economic opportunity;
•	improve access to information technology;
•	alleviate environmental issues like affordable water and energy;
•	increase access to health and safety;
•	create prosperous societies;
•	achieve sustainable economic growth; and
•	secure jobs and increase competitive abilities.8
6 “Why Do We Need Social Innovation?” Social Innovator. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. http://www.
socialinnovator.info/about/why-do-we-need-social-innovation.
7 “Social Innovation Creates Prosperous Societies.” Stanford Social Innovation Review, June-July 2013. Web. 03
Mar. 2014. http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/social_innovation_creates_prosperous_societies.
8 “Stanford Social Innovation Review: Informing and Inspiring Leaders of Social Change.” Social Innovation
Creates Prosperous Societies. N.p., June-July 2013. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/
social_innovation_creates_prosperous_societies.
© 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
Indeed, companies that are joining the social innovation party realize it has
significant benefits. Hewlett Packard®
(HP®
), for example, is a known leader in
social innovation. Since 2007, the company has made great strides using social
innovation as a catalyst for change. The corporation uses its resources and talents
to affect education, entrepreneurship and health, and harnesses the power of its
employees to support communities worldwide. Within the education arena, the
company promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)
efforts to inspire students to use their technical ingenuity and creativity to address
urgent social issues. The HP Catalyst Initiative, for example, is a global network of
educators who explore new approaches to STEM education. At the end of 2012,
member organizations estimated that more than 250,000 students around the
world will benefit from the Catalyst Initiative.9
The company also established the HP Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (HP
LIFE), to help students, aspiring and established entrepreneurs, and small business
owners develop IT and business skills to be successful. Since 2007, HP LIFE has
provided approximately 1.2 million people worldwide with training, access
to technology, and online activities.10
 Likewise, HP is dedicated to advancing
electronic and mobile health solutions to strengthen health systems globally. The
Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) project, developed in collaboration with the Clinton
Health Access Initiative (CHAI), is another example of HP’s social innovations.
The EID program uses HP technology to automate the HIV testing process for
infants, significantly speeding up the reporting of test results from several months
to less than 30 days and helping to save lives. In 2011, approximately 65,000
infants were tested in Kenya through EID. By 2012, this number jumped to over
200,000, and estimates suggested this number would grow to 220,000 in 2013.11
 
And HP is far from the only company addressing social innovation. Abbott
Laboratories®
sends expert lab technicians on long-term assignments to
train and mentor local lab teams in Tanzania to help the government
ensure sustainable lab operations. In Haiti, Abbot’s nutrition scientists and
engineers helped Partners In Health build a new production facility to address
malnutrition and stimulate local economic development. In India, the company
works across the value chain to build a more inclusive business that better meets
the needs of local communities and drives long-term shared prosperity.12
9 “Social Innovation.” HP Global Citizenship: N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/
globalcitizenship/society/social.html.
10 Ibid.
11 “Early Infant Diagnosis Project.” HP Living Progress. Web. 19 May 2014. http://www8.hp.com/us/en/hp-
information/social-innovation/kenya.html#.U3qhHSjYMlo.
12 Forum, Skoll World. “The Critical Role Of Leadership In Driving Social Innovation.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine,
27 Dec. 2013. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/skollworldforum/2013/12/27/the-critical-role-
of-leadership-in-driving-social-innovation/.
© 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
In 2013, JP Morgan Chase®
held a Social Innovation Summit to promote and
showcase social innovations worldwide. The highlights can be viewed in the
You Tube®
video, Social Innovation Summit 2013, and it is two minutes well
spent if you are wondering what programs are being sponsored by other
corporate leaders.
What you need to bring to the party
Don’t go to the party empty handed—there are certain things you can do to
ensure social innovation is successful. Experts find that companies that are
successful with social innovation have five key elements in place. These include:
1.	a purpose,
2.	defined need,
3.	measurement,
4.	partners, and 	
5.	an innovation-enhancing structure.13
While it might seem obvious, a well-defined purpose is the first ingredient
for social innovation success. This refers to the ability to redefine corporate
goals to meet societal needs. For example, a company that produces athletic
equipment might redefine its purpose to create a healthier, more active society.
Or, instead of a focus on producing technology solutions, the social innovation
concept may center on increasing connectivity in Third World countries. The
objective is to define the business around a societal purpose that changes the
DNA of the business.14
There also needs to be a defined need that your corporation plans to address. It
needs to be more specific than something like poverty or world hunger—it should
specifically outline what you plan to accomplish with social innovation. Aside
from poverty, a more specific need might be to decrease unemployment by 20
percent in the next five years through extending markets and opportunities—or
something along these lines. The idea is to provide well-researched and data-
driven needs to help a corporation to draft a business case and measure progress
over time. Keep in mind, as outlined in The Guardian®
, “investments are not
anchored to a mere theme … investments [address] a clearly defined need.”15
13 “Five Keys to Corporate Social Innovation.” Theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media, 29 Aug. 2013. Web.
17 Mar. 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/corporate-social-innovation.
14 Ibid.
15 “Five Keys to Corporate Social Innovation.” Theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media, 29 Aug. 2013. Web.
17 Mar. 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/corporate-social-innovation.
© 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
You’ve heard it before, what matters gets measured. The same holds true
for corporate innovation. Successful companies are smart about measuring
the impact of social innovations and making the link to their bottom line.
And this isn’t an afterthought; it is part of a defined strategy upfront.
Effective social innovators develop indicators that show the value to
society and their business. For instance, according to The Guardian, health
care companies might realize that giving people without health care the
information to change their behavior and seek that care will generate new
revenues. Eventually, companies could unlock business value by tracking
changes in health outcomes and understanding how corporate activities
affect those outcomes.16
In addition, partnerships are essential for social innovation success. The most
successful innovators don’t go it alone; they seek help and assistance from global
partners, entrepreneurs and agencies. The key is to find unconventional partners
from civil society, academia, philanthropy and other groups that can nurture the
social innovation from every design phase, from scope to rollout. Companies
that excel at social innovation establish and cultivate relationships with experts
and institutional networks. In following sections, this paper explores some of the
social innovation leaders that you might consider along with valuable resources
you can tap into.
Finally, it’s important to have an innovation-enhancing structure. What does
this mean, exactly? Perhaps you’ve experienced project failures as a result of
internal policies, processes or politics. To prevent this from happening with social
innovations, experts suggest creating a structure that can situate, measure, shield
and protect social innovation. Whether this means creating a separate fund,
department, or cross functional committee, there is no “right” way to structure
social innovation. The key is to find what works within your corporate culture to
give social innovation the environment it needs not only to survive, but to thrive.
These are just the overarching elements of social innovation, so let’s take a closer
look at some of these areas independently.
Yes, there is a dress code: Make sure you wear
a social purpose
Embedding a social purpose into your business model is perhaps the most critical
piece of social innovation. What does this mean? It means taking your business
model and repositioning it so that it contributes a solution to a global or societal
problem. And when you do it well, you’ll make money in the process.
16 Ibid.
© 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
Dow Chemical®
provides a perfect example of how social innovation can solve
problems while creating profits. In 2005, Dow AgroSciences®
wanted to develop
a healthier alternative to soybeans that would be easier for farmers to grow and
harvest. This led to the innovation of Nexera®
, which are canola and sunflower
seeds used for making cooking oils. Farmers liked them because the seeds yield
more than twice as much oil per hectare as soybeans, making them an attractive
crop. In addition, the oils had a longer shelf and cooking life that lowered the
operating costs for food manufacturers and food service companies. In addition,
the oils have less saturated fat than competing products and zero trans fats,
making them attractive from a health standpoint. Not surprising, Nexera soon
became (and remains) one of the top-selling products at Dow Chemical. This
example is the ultimate goal for social innovation—solving problems while
making profits.
Companies that focus on food distribution and creation make good
candidates for social innovation. As a result, many food companies have
changed their business strategy to incorporate nutrition and health. Nestle®
and the French company Danone®
are two companies that repositioned
their brands as social innovators. In 2000, Danone’s CEO Franck Riboud
realized that the company had drifted from its emphasis on providing
healthy food. After recognizing that stakeholders were increasingly
concerned about nutrition he stressed the idea of “Danone for All” and
sold the beer, meat and cheese units in order to refocus on other dairy
products, water, baby food and medical nutrition.17
In the case of Danone,
by reemphasizing the firm’s founding social missions, the company was able
to contribute to providing healthy food worldwide. In another example,
Nestle started developing micronutrient-reinforced spices that helped
millions of malnourished families in India and other countries, and it in turn
became a fast-growing, profitable business.
Food companies aren’t the only ones transforming their business models to
address social needs. Technology and telecommunications firms such as IBM,
Intel®
, and Verizon®
have integrated education and health care into their core
business models, with the intent to make cities more livable as their central
mission. Intel has educated and trained more than 10 million teachers in the
use of technology to improve educational outcomes, and has turned it into a
profitable business for the company along the way.18
17 “Innovating for Shared Value.” Harvard Business Review. N.p., Sept. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://hbr.
org/2013/09/innovating-for-shared-value/ar/1.
18 “Innovating for Shared Value.” Harvard Business Review. N.p., Sept. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://hbr.
org/2013/09/innovating-for-shared-value/ar/1.
© 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
The goal is to solve problems but to earn profits; and that might mean rethinking
or revising the way your company thinks and operates. Think of the value your
organization might provide to improve local or global problems and how you
can infuse a social purpose to either products or projects, or both. If you need
more inspiration, check out the article from Forbes®
on the Most Dynamic Social
Innovation Initiatives of 2012.
Bring a date to the party
You shouldn’t go the party alone. Yes, your company can independently
create awareness for social innovation with public policy dialogue, advocacy
or institutional change. But to increase the chances of success, companies are
choosing to bring a date to the party, either in the form of a social entrepreneur
or other organization designed to promote and cultivate social innovation.
A social entrepreneur is an organization or person that helps identify
practical solutions to social problems by combining innovation,
resourcefulness and opportunity. Entrepreneurs may identify new
processes, services, products or unique ways of combining business assets
with innovation. Most importantly, they can convert ideas into actions
by working with and motivating, groups, people or communities. Some
experts believe the world’s most respected social entrepreneurs are those
that partner with large companies to inspire, identify, and combine
market-driven approaches with social purposes.19
Indeed, there are a number of organizations that can help further your
cause, or develop new business models. You may have heard of organizations
like the Skoll Foundation™
, The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship™
,
New Profit Inc.®
and the National Social Entrepreneurship Forum, among
others. These organizations are designed to help corporations with major social
innovation platforms. They can provide insight on leading models for sustainable
social innovation and leverage a community of social entrepreneurs that work
to reshape global, regional and industry agendas to further social innovations.
Figure 1. visually displays how a social innovation network might help by
providing resources to invent, transform, finance or broker social change.
19 “Five Keys to Corporate Social Innovation.” Theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media, 29 Aug. 2013. Web.
17 Mar. 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/corporate-social-innovation.
© 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
Figure 1. Potential roles of a social entrepreneur
KickStart®
is another organization that serves as a broker between social
innovation and corporations. The mission of the organization is to alleviate
poverty in Africa quickly, cost-effectively and sustainably. KickStart designs,
promotes and markets simple tools that farmers buy and use to start highly
profitable family enterprises. These new businesses create a sustainable solution
to the rural poor’s most important need—a way to make money—and enable
the farmers to lift their families out of poverty.20
So far, the organization created
140,000 jobs and moved 770,000 people out of poverty. Even more impressively, as
of 2013, it’s generated $130 million in new profits and wages in Africa.21
Even if you don’t use a formal social network, you still don’t have to attend
the party solo. There are many resources like the Social Innovator that can help
you get started and provide tips that help with social innovation. Resources like
Social Innovator help organizations generate ideas that bring groups together
internally to help design, develop and grow new ideas that address unmet needs.
You can also tap into collaborative spaces like IBM’s Jam Program or attend
one of the many conferences that address the issue. The Feast®
, for example, is
an organization that provides seminars and conferences on social innovation.
Founded in 2008, The Feast provides a collaborative space for exchanging ideas
that inspire participants with new perspectives on social impact. Take advantage
of the many opportunities to learn more about social innovation—a quick search
online will produce multiple learning events, perhaps in an area nearby.
In addition, the emphasis on social innovation is reshaping the academic world
and there are plenty of educational opportunities available. Boston College®
recently launched a program dedicated solely to social innovation and leadership.
20 “About KickStart.” KickStart. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.kickstart.org/about-us/.
21 “KickStart : Our Impact.” KickStart. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.kickstart.org/what-we-do/
impact/.
© 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
The goal of the program is to train new leadership to support social innovation
and manage new solutions. The premise is that leaders can no longer operate
in isolation; they must be fully in sync with social innovations and the need
for social change. Brown University’s®
Social Innovation Initiative is another
resource to tap into, and many colleges have similar programs in place. Like other
educational opportunities, Brown’s efforts are supported by a powerful network
of social innovators who contribute to social impact ventures around the world—
presenting the opportunity to learn from experts in the field.
Overall, through increased education, companies can learn how to implement
social innovation to tackle problems employees and customers really care about.
Educational programs teach leaders how to realize that the best way to drive
social change by applying the power of their core business through collaboration.
Find a good DJ—Why leadership dictates
the party mood
Social innovation can be a highly successful group endeavor. But just like a DJ
determines the party mood, strong leadership will drive social innovations and
improve your chances of success. According to Forbes®
: “In the rapidly emerging
field of social enterprise, the importance of effective hands-on leadership is clear.
Like traditional start-ups, social businesses are often led by an individual or a
small group of dedicated entrepreneurs, personally bringing missions to life.”22
Corporate leaders have already played critical roles in driving philanthropic
contributions by encouraging employees to give back or get involved. In the
past few decades, there have been a growing number of corporate executives
that provide charitable giving contributions or allocate funds for giving. Today,
leaders are taking it a step further and driving social change that moves beyond
grant making and community volunteering. They are promoting programs that
provide benefit to both society and business. Whether it’s providing human
capital or access to technology, some leaders are placing greater emphasis on
platforms that address crucial social issues and align with business imperatives.
There’s no doubt, inspirational leadership and passionate champions can catapult
your efforts. Whether it’s a CEO or a grassroots activist, passion and leadership is
a key driver of social change. Consider the example of Somaly Mam Foundation™
,
which was founded by Somaly Mam, a survivor of human trafficking. Established
in 2007, the organization reported over $3 million in revenues last year, in part
22 “The Critical Role Of Leadership In Driving Social Innovation.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 27 Dec. 2013. Web.
17 Mar. 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/skollworldforum/2013/12/27/the-critical-role-of-leadership-in-
driving-social-innovation/.
© 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
because of the leadership and dedication of Mam, who continues to be actively
involved in the foundation.23
Nuru International is another organization that benefited from strong
leadership. It was founded by Jake Harriman, a graduate from the U.S.
Naval Academy who served over seven years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
During his deployment throughout places like Asia and the Middle East,
Harriman came to the conclusion that extreme poverty is a contributing
factor to the causes of terrorism and insurgency, and that a reduction in
extreme poverty can reduce terrorism and rebellions across the globe.
Harriman was a pivotal leader in building the nonprofit organization
to become the world’s first self-sustaining, self-scaling, integrated
development model to end extreme poverty. If you need some motivation,
check out the story of Nuru International online.
At the Social Innovation Summit held in 2013, Shannon Schuyler, a leader in
corporate responsibility from PwC, talked about the increasing need for corporate
leaders to pursue game-changing approaches rather than safe, incremental
improvements, and to embrace collaborations that cultivate new ideas.24
As
previously mentioned, there’s a strong case that financial results increase when
leaders champion social innovation. A recent survey found that leaders who are
targeting breakthrough or radical innovations expect their companies to grow
twice as fast as their less innovative peers in the years ahead.25
How to handle party crashers
Every party has some crashers, but there are ways to make sure they don’t get
through the door. Specifically, organizations like MaRS®
can help ensure there
are no interruptions to your party. Originally known as the Medical and Related
Sciences, in 2005, MaRS expanded its reach to provide guidance and insights
on social innovation. Accordingly, the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing (SVX)
provides suggestions that can help you stay on course once you’ve started social
innovation. Particularly, when your vision and mission are centered on working
for the greater good, it can be easy to blow out budgets. In addition, some social
innovations may stall, or worse yet, go nowhere. These are legitimate risks, and
investors and stakeholders easily pass on social innovations that appear only to
drain resources.
23 “Annual Reports.” Somaly Mam Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.somaly.org/about/
annual-reports.
24 Schuyler, Shannon. “Innovation in a Rapidly Evolving World.” Skoll World Forum. N.p., 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 17
Mar. 2014. http://skollworldforum.org/2013/11/13/innovation-in-a-rapidly-evolving-world/.
25 “The Critical Role Of Leadership In Driving Social Innovation.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 27 Dec. 2013. Web.
17 Mar. 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/skollworldforum/2013/12/27/the-critical-role-of-leadership-in-
driving-social-innovation/.
© 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
To overcome some of these risks, according to MaRS and SVX, successful
social innovations:
•	never ignore the bottom line;
•	foster collaborations;
•	adapt to local and global trends while staying focused on the vision.26
Even though social innovation is about serving the greater good, it’s still
important to stay on top of your bottom line. There’s a greater risk to deviate
from budgets and timelines when you are trying to solve a societal problem,
largely because the end result might be priceless. Still, just as you would with
other business initiatives, it’s important to stay on budget and adhere to
timelines. Keep in mind that the business model must be sustainable, and if
you break the bank it won’t be. To make sure the effort is sustainable long
term, you need to make sure funding is in line with stakeholder expectations.
Experts believe that robust collaboration will keep uninvited guests at bay.
Collaboration is the heart of social innovation—one person (or organization)
working alone cannot always create and deliver a successful innovation. In order
to ensure success, you have to obtain the full and genuine contribution between
those leading the innovation and project partners, team members, and other
supporting elements. If you are developing social innovations through internal
RD departments, make sure you have a wide range of expertise from every
feasible area that impacts the problem. Diversity in thought, whether internal or
external, is important. IBM®
, for example, increases collaboration opportunities
through its IBM Jams website. The idea is to provide a forum for collaborative
innovation with an all-inclusive forum to help bring together different minds and
perspectives to “discover new solutions to long-standing problems.”27
Using IBM
Jams, the company promotes learning across industries, disciplines and national
boarders to increase collaborative innovation. It’s just one of the many ways to
attract divergent ideas and expertise.
Finally, it’s also important to adapt to local and global trends yet remain focused
on the vision and mission to be successful with social innovation. For example,
let’s say your social innovation efforts are in a country with political unrest or
other emerging social problems. It would be a mistake to ignore local and global
trends, yet you need to find a balance between addressing emerging issues while
remaining focused on the mission and vision. It’s like scope creep on a macro
level—when dealing with real world problems it can easily get off track when
26 “Case Studies in Social Innovation: MaRS Centre for Impact Investing – SVX.” MaRS Discovery District RSS. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.marsdd.com/articles/case-studies-in-social-innovation-mars-centre-for-
impact-investing-svx/.
27 “IBM Jam Events.” IBM Jam Events. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. https://www.collaborationjam.com/.
© 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved
4imprint serves more than 100,000 businesses with innovative promotional items throughout the United States,
Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland. Its product offerings include giveaways, business gifts, personalized gifts,
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you want to do more. Don’t lose focus and drift from the mission and vision,
especially if you are conducting efforts in countries that have multiple needs. At
the same time, remember that innovators and entrepreneurs need to continually
adapt to local and global trends to accomplish goals. It’s like finding that song
that everyone can dance to at a party—once you find it everyone will stay on the
dance floor.
Why the party never ends
Innovation is the lifeblood of corporate competitiveness, value creation and
sustainable growth. It is also vital to solving many of the major environmental
and social challenges that our world faces. Consider social innovation as a way
to make the world better while improving products and services across your
organization. Not only will it give your company a feel-good boost, but along
the way, your corporation can have an impact while improving profits. That’s
called a win-win, and it can be an ongoing point of pride while providing new
business opportunities. As a result, social innovation becomes a celebration
that never ends.

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Social Innovation Blue Paper by promotional products retailer 4imprint

  • 2. © 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved You’re cordially invited to change the world: Join the social innovation party It’s a small world after all. And thanks to things like technology and social media it’s getting smaller by the minute. Although it might sound cliché, the fates of everyone on the planet are inextricably linked.1 Even the global economy is tightly connected, and for this reason, many corporations are doing all they can to make sure global partners are stable and thriving. It’s called social innovation, and it’s when companies find innovative solutions to complex social and environmental problems. It’s about organizations around the globe harnessing core competencies, assets and resources to improve the global environment.2 And it’s more than just social responsibility, philanthropy or even sustainability, but a new way to achieve economic success. Social innovation is really about converting challenges into opportunities. Organizations increasingly realize that there is an economic benefit to solving social and environmental problems. Social innovation is when companies use these problems as opportunities to create new business concepts and ultimately, develop products and new business models that solve challenges. As a result, corporations are rethinking their business models in order to include social innovation. Giving back takes a different form from philanthropy or charity; social innovation can be done as part of a corporate strategy. Perhaps most importantly, it can be profitable, too. A survey from PwC® found that leaders who target breakthrough or radical innovations expect their companies to grow twice as fast as their less innovative peers in the upcoming years.3 You could say social innovation is the belle of the ball, and it has captured the attention of leaders worldwide. For the past decade, interest in social innovation has soared because it is a way to achieve sustainable economic growth. In the United States, for example, President Barack Obama launched the Social Innovation Fund, which provides grants to promising programs. In Europe, the European Commission issued recommendations for fostering social innovations and expanding them across the globe. The United Kingdom responded to these propositions with the creation of the organization Big Society, which is dedicated to finding and implementing the best social innovations. The commitment extends to the Far East, too. In South Korea, Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon integrates social innovation approaches into the city. And in Japan, 1 “Social Innovation Creates Prosperous Societies.” Stanford Social Innovation Review, June-July 2013. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/social_innovation_creates_prosperous_societies. 2 “Social Innovation.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Feb. 2014. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Social_innovation. 3 Forum, Skoll World. “The Critical Role Of Leadership In Driving Social Innovation.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 27 Dec. 2013. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/skollworldforum/2013/12/27/the-critical-role-of- leadership-in-driving-social-innovation/.
  • 3. © 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved social innovation was a key driver in rebuilding efforts following the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster.4 In fact, economists estimate that between 50 and 80 percent of economic growth comes from innovation and new knowledge.5 If only social innovation were as easy as it sounds. In reality, there can be significant risks when embarking on social innovation. There’s a certain amount of financial risk often associated with social innovation, not to mention that some of the efforts might never progress as intended. It’s a difficult thing to do, and companies should proceed with caution. This Blue Paper® is about social innovation and what it takes to be successful. Again, it’s more than philanthropy or corporate social responsibility; it’s about turning problems into profit. It will uncover some of the critical success factors for social innovation, as well as the risks and drivers. You’ll find out why it’s important to incorporate social innovation into your business model and how to partner with social entrepreneurs to improve your chances for success. Consider this your formal invitation to learn more. And bring your dancing shoes, because all you need is an open mind and an inventive approach. Social innovation: What’s the party celebrating? Corporate social innovation (CSI) is defined as the development and implementation of new ideas (products, services and models) to meet social needs. In simpler terms, it means harnessing the power of corporate talents to solve a social or environmental problem. And, by solving real-world problems through social innovation, a corporation could end up developing products they never imagined, or reaching audiences they never knew existed. This broad definition is all encompassing and is associated with diverse fields including fair trade, distance learning, hospices, urban farming, waste reduction and restorative 4 Urama, Kevin, and Ernest Acheampong. “Social Innovation Creates Prosperous Societies.” Informing and Inspiring Leaders of Social Change. Stanford Social Innovation Review, Summer 2013. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/social_innovation_creates_prosperous_societies. 5 Ibid. Hewlett Packard on social innovation: “Social innovation at HP centers on the belief that the same passion, energy, and culture of innovation that make HP a successful company can also be used to make a profound and positive social impact in the world. HP Sustainability and Social Innovation helps share HP talent and technology where they are needed most.” Source: See How HP Is Making a Positive Difference around the World.” Social Innovation at HP. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.
  • 4. © 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved justice. Social innovation can come from individuals, groups and associations, the nonprofit sector, the market and the state.6 It is also applied to a wide range of fields, including the environment, health care, education, welfare, food and energy, to name a few. Some of the world’s leading companies recognize that by harnessing innovation for the public good they can manage risks, gain competitive advantage and even enhance their reputation and stakeholder relationships. Such companies are focusing on ways to integrate social innovation with areas such as research and development, sourcing, manufacturing, marketing and product disposal. In the process of creating solutions, it is also profoundly changing beliefs, basic practices, resources and social power structures. As noted in an article from the Stanford® Social Innovation Review (SSIR): “Social innovation provides a unique opportunity to step back from a narrow way of thinking about social enterprises, business engagement, and philanthropy and to recognize instead the interconnectedness of various factors and stakeholders.”7 And why wouldn’t an organization improve the global economy if it meant increasing profits in the process? When it works, social innovation presents significant benefits to corporations as well as the greater good. Some of the corporate benefits may include: • development of human capital; • improved operational efficiency; • organizational innovation; • better access to information; • enhanced reputation and credibility; • and, creation of a stable society. In addition to making the world a better place, there are societal benefits as well. When it’s implemented as intended, it can: • increase access to economic opportunity; • improve access to information technology; • alleviate environmental issues like affordable water and energy; • increase access to health and safety; • create prosperous societies; • achieve sustainable economic growth; and • secure jobs and increase competitive abilities.8 6 “Why Do We Need Social Innovation?” Social Innovator. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. http://www. socialinnovator.info/about/why-do-we-need-social-innovation. 7 “Social Innovation Creates Prosperous Societies.” Stanford Social Innovation Review, June-July 2013. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/social_innovation_creates_prosperous_societies. 8 “Stanford Social Innovation Review: Informing and Inspiring Leaders of Social Change.” Social Innovation Creates Prosperous Societies. N.p., June-July 2013. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/ social_innovation_creates_prosperous_societies.
  • 5. © 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved Indeed, companies that are joining the social innovation party realize it has significant benefits. Hewlett Packard® (HP® ), for example, is a known leader in social innovation. Since 2007, the company has made great strides using social innovation as a catalyst for change. The corporation uses its resources and talents to affect education, entrepreneurship and health, and harnesses the power of its employees to support communities worldwide. Within the education arena, the company promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) efforts to inspire students to use their technical ingenuity and creativity to address urgent social issues. The HP Catalyst Initiative, for example, is a global network of educators who explore new approaches to STEM education. At the end of 2012, member organizations estimated that more than 250,000 students around the world will benefit from the Catalyst Initiative.9 The company also established the HP Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (HP LIFE), to help students, aspiring and established entrepreneurs, and small business owners develop IT and business skills to be successful. Since 2007, HP LIFE has provided approximately 1.2 million people worldwide with training, access to technology, and online activities.10  Likewise, HP is dedicated to advancing electronic and mobile health solutions to strengthen health systems globally. The Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) project, developed in collaboration with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), is another example of HP’s social innovations. The EID program uses HP technology to automate the HIV testing process for infants, significantly speeding up the reporting of test results from several months to less than 30 days and helping to save lives. In 2011, approximately 65,000 infants were tested in Kenya through EID. By 2012, this number jumped to over 200,000, and estimates suggested this number would grow to 220,000 in 2013.11   And HP is far from the only company addressing social innovation. Abbott Laboratories® sends expert lab technicians on long-term assignments to train and mentor local lab teams in Tanzania to help the government ensure sustainable lab operations. In Haiti, Abbot’s nutrition scientists and engineers helped Partners In Health build a new production facility to address malnutrition and stimulate local economic development. In India, the company works across the value chain to build a more inclusive business that better meets the needs of local communities and drives long-term shared prosperity.12 9 “Social Innovation.” HP Global Citizenship: N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/ globalcitizenship/society/social.html. 10 Ibid. 11 “Early Infant Diagnosis Project.” HP Living Progress. Web. 19 May 2014. http://www8.hp.com/us/en/hp- information/social-innovation/kenya.html#.U3qhHSjYMlo. 12 Forum, Skoll World. “The Critical Role Of Leadership In Driving Social Innovation.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 27 Dec. 2013. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/skollworldforum/2013/12/27/the-critical-role- of-leadership-in-driving-social-innovation/.
  • 6. © 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved In 2013, JP Morgan Chase® held a Social Innovation Summit to promote and showcase social innovations worldwide. The highlights can be viewed in the You Tube® video, Social Innovation Summit 2013, and it is two minutes well spent if you are wondering what programs are being sponsored by other corporate leaders. What you need to bring to the party Don’t go to the party empty handed—there are certain things you can do to ensure social innovation is successful. Experts find that companies that are successful with social innovation have five key elements in place. These include: 1. a purpose, 2. defined need, 3. measurement, 4. partners, and 5. an innovation-enhancing structure.13 While it might seem obvious, a well-defined purpose is the first ingredient for social innovation success. This refers to the ability to redefine corporate goals to meet societal needs. For example, a company that produces athletic equipment might redefine its purpose to create a healthier, more active society. Or, instead of a focus on producing technology solutions, the social innovation concept may center on increasing connectivity in Third World countries. The objective is to define the business around a societal purpose that changes the DNA of the business.14 There also needs to be a defined need that your corporation plans to address. It needs to be more specific than something like poverty or world hunger—it should specifically outline what you plan to accomplish with social innovation. Aside from poverty, a more specific need might be to decrease unemployment by 20 percent in the next five years through extending markets and opportunities—or something along these lines. The idea is to provide well-researched and data- driven needs to help a corporation to draft a business case and measure progress over time. Keep in mind, as outlined in The Guardian® , “investments are not anchored to a mere theme … investments [address] a clearly defined need.”15 13 “Five Keys to Corporate Social Innovation.” Theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media, 29 Aug. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/corporate-social-innovation. 14 Ibid. 15 “Five Keys to Corporate Social Innovation.” Theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media, 29 Aug. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/corporate-social-innovation.
  • 7. © 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved You’ve heard it before, what matters gets measured. The same holds true for corporate innovation. Successful companies are smart about measuring the impact of social innovations and making the link to their bottom line. And this isn’t an afterthought; it is part of a defined strategy upfront. Effective social innovators develop indicators that show the value to society and their business. For instance, according to The Guardian, health care companies might realize that giving people without health care the information to change their behavior and seek that care will generate new revenues. Eventually, companies could unlock business value by tracking changes in health outcomes and understanding how corporate activities affect those outcomes.16 In addition, partnerships are essential for social innovation success. The most successful innovators don’t go it alone; they seek help and assistance from global partners, entrepreneurs and agencies. The key is to find unconventional partners from civil society, academia, philanthropy and other groups that can nurture the social innovation from every design phase, from scope to rollout. Companies that excel at social innovation establish and cultivate relationships with experts and institutional networks. In following sections, this paper explores some of the social innovation leaders that you might consider along with valuable resources you can tap into. Finally, it’s important to have an innovation-enhancing structure. What does this mean, exactly? Perhaps you’ve experienced project failures as a result of internal policies, processes or politics. To prevent this from happening with social innovations, experts suggest creating a structure that can situate, measure, shield and protect social innovation. Whether this means creating a separate fund, department, or cross functional committee, there is no “right” way to structure social innovation. The key is to find what works within your corporate culture to give social innovation the environment it needs not only to survive, but to thrive. These are just the overarching elements of social innovation, so let’s take a closer look at some of these areas independently. Yes, there is a dress code: Make sure you wear a social purpose Embedding a social purpose into your business model is perhaps the most critical piece of social innovation. What does this mean? It means taking your business model and repositioning it so that it contributes a solution to a global or societal problem. And when you do it well, you’ll make money in the process. 16 Ibid.
  • 8. © 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved Dow Chemical® provides a perfect example of how social innovation can solve problems while creating profits. In 2005, Dow AgroSciences® wanted to develop a healthier alternative to soybeans that would be easier for farmers to grow and harvest. This led to the innovation of Nexera® , which are canola and sunflower seeds used for making cooking oils. Farmers liked them because the seeds yield more than twice as much oil per hectare as soybeans, making them an attractive crop. In addition, the oils had a longer shelf and cooking life that lowered the operating costs for food manufacturers and food service companies. In addition, the oils have less saturated fat than competing products and zero trans fats, making them attractive from a health standpoint. Not surprising, Nexera soon became (and remains) one of the top-selling products at Dow Chemical. This example is the ultimate goal for social innovation—solving problems while making profits. Companies that focus on food distribution and creation make good candidates for social innovation. As a result, many food companies have changed their business strategy to incorporate nutrition and health. Nestle® and the French company Danone® are two companies that repositioned their brands as social innovators. In 2000, Danone’s CEO Franck Riboud realized that the company had drifted from its emphasis on providing healthy food. After recognizing that stakeholders were increasingly concerned about nutrition he stressed the idea of “Danone for All” and sold the beer, meat and cheese units in order to refocus on other dairy products, water, baby food and medical nutrition.17 In the case of Danone, by reemphasizing the firm’s founding social missions, the company was able to contribute to providing healthy food worldwide. In another example, Nestle started developing micronutrient-reinforced spices that helped millions of malnourished families in India and other countries, and it in turn became a fast-growing, profitable business. Food companies aren’t the only ones transforming their business models to address social needs. Technology and telecommunications firms such as IBM, Intel® , and Verizon® have integrated education and health care into their core business models, with the intent to make cities more livable as their central mission. Intel has educated and trained more than 10 million teachers in the use of technology to improve educational outcomes, and has turned it into a profitable business for the company along the way.18 17 “Innovating for Shared Value.” Harvard Business Review. N.p., Sept. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://hbr. org/2013/09/innovating-for-shared-value/ar/1. 18 “Innovating for Shared Value.” Harvard Business Review. N.p., Sept. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://hbr. org/2013/09/innovating-for-shared-value/ar/1.
  • 9. © 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved The goal is to solve problems but to earn profits; and that might mean rethinking or revising the way your company thinks and operates. Think of the value your organization might provide to improve local or global problems and how you can infuse a social purpose to either products or projects, or both. If you need more inspiration, check out the article from Forbes® on the Most Dynamic Social Innovation Initiatives of 2012. Bring a date to the party You shouldn’t go the party alone. Yes, your company can independently create awareness for social innovation with public policy dialogue, advocacy or institutional change. But to increase the chances of success, companies are choosing to bring a date to the party, either in the form of a social entrepreneur or other organization designed to promote and cultivate social innovation. A social entrepreneur is an organization or person that helps identify practical solutions to social problems by combining innovation, resourcefulness and opportunity. Entrepreneurs may identify new processes, services, products or unique ways of combining business assets with innovation. Most importantly, they can convert ideas into actions by working with and motivating, groups, people or communities. Some experts believe the world’s most respected social entrepreneurs are those that partner with large companies to inspire, identify, and combine market-driven approaches with social purposes.19 Indeed, there are a number of organizations that can help further your cause, or develop new business models. You may have heard of organizations like the Skoll Foundation™ , The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship™ , New Profit Inc.® and the National Social Entrepreneurship Forum, among others. These organizations are designed to help corporations with major social innovation platforms. They can provide insight on leading models for sustainable social innovation and leverage a community of social entrepreneurs that work to reshape global, regional and industry agendas to further social innovations. Figure 1. visually displays how a social innovation network might help by providing resources to invent, transform, finance or broker social change. 19 “Five Keys to Corporate Social Innovation.” Theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media, 29 Aug. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/corporate-social-innovation.
  • 10. © 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved Figure 1. Potential roles of a social entrepreneur KickStart® is another organization that serves as a broker between social innovation and corporations. The mission of the organization is to alleviate poverty in Africa quickly, cost-effectively and sustainably. KickStart designs, promotes and markets simple tools that farmers buy and use to start highly profitable family enterprises. These new businesses create a sustainable solution to the rural poor’s most important need—a way to make money—and enable the farmers to lift their families out of poverty.20 So far, the organization created 140,000 jobs and moved 770,000 people out of poverty. Even more impressively, as of 2013, it’s generated $130 million in new profits and wages in Africa.21 Even if you don’t use a formal social network, you still don’t have to attend the party solo. There are many resources like the Social Innovator that can help you get started and provide tips that help with social innovation. Resources like Social Innovator help organizations generate ideas that bring groups together internally to help design, develop and grow new ideas that address unmet needs. You can also tap into collaborative spaces like IBM’s Jam Program or attend one of the many conferences that address the issue. The Feast® , for example, is an organization that provides seminars and conferences on social innovation. Founded in 2008, The Feast provides a collaborative space for exchanging ideas that inspire participants with new perspectives on social impact. Take advantage of the many opportunities to learn more about social innovation—a quick search online will produce multiple learning events, perhaps in an area nearby. In addition, the emphasis on social innovation is reshaping the academic world and there are plenty of educational opportunities available. Boston College® recently launched a program dedicated solely to social innovation and leadership. 20 “About KickStart.” KickStart. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.kickstart.org/about-us/. 21 “KickStart : Our Impact.” KickStart. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.kickstart.org/what-we-do/ impact/.
  • 11. © 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved The goal of the program is to train new leadership to support social innovation and manage new solutions. The premise is that leaders can no longer operate in isolation; they must be fully in sync with social innovations and the need for social change. Brown University’s® Social Innovation Initiative is another resource to tap into, and many colleges have similar programs in place. Like other educational opportunities, Brown’s efforts are supported by a powerful network of social innovators who contribute to social impact ventures around the world— presenting the opportunity to learn from experts in the field. Overall, through increased education, companies can learn how to implement social innovation to tackle problems employees and customers really care about. Educational programs teach leaders how to realize that the best way to drive social change by applying the power of their core business through collaboration. Find a good DJ—Why leadership dictates the party mood Social innovation can be a highly successful group endeavor. But just like a DJ determines the party mood, strong leadership will drive social innovations and improve your chances of success. According to Forbes® : “In the rapidly emerging field of social enterprise, the importance of effective hands-on leadership is clear. Like traditional start-ups, social businesses are often led by an individual or a small group of dedicated entrepreneurs, personally bringing missions to life.”22 Corporate leaders have already played critical roles in driving philanthropic contributions by encouraging employees to give back or get involved. In the past few decades, there have been a growing number of corporate executives that provide charitable giving contributions or allocate funds for giving. Today, leaders are taking it a step further and driving social change that moves beyond grant making and community volunteering. They are promoting programs that provide benefit to both society and business. Whether it’s providing human capital or access to technology, some leaders are placing greater emphasis on platforms that address crucial social issues and align with business imperatives. There’s no doubt, inspirational leadership and passionate champions can catapult your efforts. Whether it’s a CEO or a grassroots activist, passion and leadership is a key driver of social change. Consider the example of Somaly Mam Foundation™ , which was founded by Somaly Mam, a survivor of human trafficking. Established in 2007, the organization reported over $3 million in revenues last year, in part 22 “The Critical Role Of Leadership In Driving Social Innovation.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 27 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/skollworldforum/2013/12/27/the-critical-role-of-leadership-in- driving-social-innovation/.
  • 12. © 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved because of the leadership and dedication of Mam, who continues to be actively involved in the foundation.23 Nuru International is another organization that benefited from strong leadership. It was founded by Jake Harriman, a graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy who served over seven years in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his deployment throughout places like Asia and the Middle East, Harriman came to the conclusion that extreme poverty is a contributing factor to the causes of terrorism and insurgency, and that a reduction in extreme poverty can reduce terrorism and rebellions across the globe. Harriman was a pivotal leader in building the nonprofit organization to become the world’s first self-sustaining, self-scaling, integrated development model to end extreme poverty. If you need some motivation, check out the story of Nuru International online. At the Social Innovation Summit held in 2013, Shannon Schuyler, a leader in corporate responsibility from PwC, talked about the increasing need for corporate leaders to pursue game-changing approaches rather than safe, incremental improvements, and to embrace collaborations that cultivate new ideas.24 As previously mentioned, there’s a strong case that financial results increase when leaders champion social innovation. A recent survey found that leaders who are targeting breakthrough or radical innovations expect their companies to grow twice as fast as their less innovative peers in the years ahead.25 How to handle party crashers Every party has some crashers, but there are ways to make sure they don’t get through the door. Specifically, organizations like MaRS® can help ensure there are no interruptions to your party. Originally known as the Medical and Related Sciences, in 2005, MaRS expanded its reach to provide guidance and insights on social innovation. Accordingly, the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing (SVX) provides suggestions that can help you stay on course once you’ve started social innovation. Particularly, when your vision and mission are centered on working for the greater good, it can be easy to blow out budgets. In addition, some social innovations may stall, or worse yet, go nowhere. These are legitimate risks, and investors and stakeholders easily pass on social innovations that appear only to drain resources. 23 “Annual Reports.” Somaly Mam Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.somaly.org/about/ annual-reports. 24 Schuyler, Shannon. “Innovation in a Rapidly Evolving World.” Skoll World Forum. N.p., 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://skollworldforum.org/2013/11/13/innovation-in-a-rapidly-evolving-world/. 25 “The Critical Role Of Leadership In Driving Social Innovation.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 27 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/skollworldforum/2013/12/27/the-critical-role-of-leadership-in- driving-social-innovation/.
  • 13. © 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved To overcome some of these risks, according to MaRS and SVX, successful social innovations: • never ignore the bottom line; • foster collaborations; • adapt to local and global trends while staying focused on the vision.26 Even though social innovation is about serving the greater good, it’s still important to stay on top of your bottom line. There’s a greater risk to deviate from budgets and timelines when you are trying to solve a societal problem, largely because the end result might be priceless. Still, just as you would with other business initiatives, it’s important to stay on budget and adhere to timelines. Keep in mind that the business model must be sustainable, and if you break the bank it won’t be. To make sure the effort is sustainable long term, you need to make sure funding is in line with stakeholder expectations. Experts believe that robust collaboration will keep uninvited guests at bay. Collaboration is the heart of social innovation—one person (or organization) working alone cannot always create and deliver a successful innovation. In order to ensure success, you have to obtain the full and genuine contribution between those leading the innovation and project partners, team members, and other supporting elements. If you are developing social innovations through internal RD departments, make sure you have a wide range of expertise from every feasible area that impacts the problem. Diversity in thought, whether internal or external, is important. IBM® , for example, increases collaboration opportunities through its IBM Jams website. The idea is to provide a forum for collaborative innovation with an all-inclusive forum to help bring together different minds and perspectives to “discover new solutions to long-standing problems.”27 Using IBM Jams, the company promotes learning across industries, disciplines and national boarders to increase collaborative innovation. It’s just one of the many ways to attract divergent ideas and expertise. Finally, it’s also important to adapt to local and global trends yet remain focused on the vision and mission to be successful with social innovation. For example, let’s say your social innovation efforts are in a country with political unrest or other emerging social problems. It would be a mistake to ignore local and global trends, yet you need to find a balance between addressing emerging issues while remaining focused on the mission and vision. It’s like scope creep on a macro level—when dealing with real world problems it can easily get off track when 26 “Case Studies in Social Innovation: MaRS Centre for Impact Investing – SVX.” MaRS Discovery District RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. http://www.marsdd.com/articles/case-studies-in-social-innovation-mars-centre-for- impact-investing-svx/. 27 “IBM Jam Events.” IBM Jam Events. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. https://www.collaborationjam.com/.
  • 14. © 2014 4imprint, Inc. All rights reserved 4imprint serves more than 100,000 businesses with innovative promotional items throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland. Its product offerings include giveaways, business gifts, personalized gifts, embroidered apparel, promotional pens, travel mugs, tote bags, water bottles, Post-it Notes, custom calendars, and many other promotional items. For additional information, log on to www.4imprint.com. you want to do more. Don’t lose focus and drift from the mission and vision, especially if you are conducting efforts in countries that have multiple needs. At the same time, remember that innovators and entrepreneurs need to continually adapt to local and global trends to accomplish goals. It’s like finding that song that everyone can dance to at a party—once you find it everyone will stay on the dance floor. Why the party never ends Innovation is the lifeblood of corporate competitiveness, value creation and sustainable growth. It is also vital to solving many of the major environmental and social challenges that our world faces. Consider social innovation as a way to make the world better while improving products and services across your organization. Not only will it give your company a feel-good boost, but along the way, your corporation can have an impact while improving profits. That’s called a win-win, and it can be an ongoing point of pride while providing new business opportunities. As a result, social innovation becomes a celebration that never ends.