In Canada, our natural environment, economy and society are confronting challenges such as accelerated climate change, an aging population, and the requirement for substantial investment in infrastructure. New forms of innovation are required to shift progress to overcome these issues and build a new economic operating system that will strengthen Canada’s resiliency.
Traditionally, social change has been the almost exclusive domain of not-for-profit organizations and governments. Today, many business leaders realize the challenges facing our society can adversely impact business. And more broadly, businesses can make a powerful contribution to solutions by providing innovative ways to leverage the power of the private sector.
Breaking Through looks at the positive power of business to drive the innovation needed to solve challenges. Our goal is to provoke a new type of dialogue among Canadian leaders with the hope that it will lead to the design and adoption of the new products, services, processes and business models needed to achieve business, social and environmental success.
The goal of our report is to help business leaders consider corporate social innovation (CSI) as a powerful opportunity to concurrently drive social impact and growth. To illustrate this, we will:
- Identify indicators that illustrate how the business landscape is changing;
- Profile some early CSI activity in Canada and internationally;
- Highlight key principles of CSI; and
- Outline practical next steps to develop a CSI strategy in your business.
“What do we mean by breakthrough?
In contrast to the unnerving prospects of breakdown, or a world of change-as-usual strategies,
the breakthrough trajectory focuses on timely, effective system change.”
In Breaking Through we have outlined guiding principles for CSI, as well as some key first steps to incorporating these principles into your business. It is time to break through to business mindsets, strategies and business models fit for the 21st century. Even the most ambitious and optimistic business leaders know that they cannot do this on their own. In this context, the emerging discipline of Corporate Social Innovation offers new perspectives, new models and new tools for addressing some of the greatest challenges of our time.
A Note on Defintions: There are a number of terms used to describe socially oriented activities in businesses: some, for example, equate CSI to strategic CSR, creating what has variously been called “blended value” as defined by Jed Emerson and more recently, by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer, as “shared value” as described in their Harvard Business Review article. Whatever terms they use, we encourage business leaders to challenge their own assumptions about what is – or is not – possible, stretching their ambitions in the light of what leading social innovators, entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and investors are achieving and attempting.