Inspiring Action for Social Impact Series Archive 2012-13

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Innovating Innovation

Innovation is no longer the domain of a few. Given the acceleration of change and global pressures today, progress calls for new partnerships. These must draw on both deep domain expertise and entrepreneurial drive, and involve all sectors—government, science, academe, industry and community—collaborating together in new and open ways. But success requires new policies and approaches that propel a re-tooled, expanded and networked innovation ecosystem and culture. Critical components include a vibrant risk capital marketplace, innovation labs and hubs, co-working spaces, as well as mentorship, connections and talent that can build strong enterprises in this fast-changing environment.

Social innovation is a vital complement to business-oriented, science and technology, R&D innovation. MaRS realized this in its early days by combining social and economic success measures in its mission statement. This blended-value mission sets MaRS apart from most traditional tech-focused innovation hubs across the world.

Who better to explain this approach in action, than the CEO of MaRS, Dr. Ilse Treurnicht. Ilse has led MaRS’ innovation agenda since the Centre opened in 2005. Now, as MaRS prepares to expand its physical footprint and dramatically scale its reach, hear Ilse speak on how positive social and economic impact will be achieved by developing a convergence innovation approach.


In the Public Eye: where Public Sector Innovation meets Social Innovation

How can public services offer more and better ways to respond to the challenges we face? In the past governments have been responsible for some of the most transformative social innovations in our collective memory – public education and public health being top of mind. However, the conditions that produced those innovations has drastically changed, and so has our expectations and relationship with government and public services.

Around the world citizens and governments are engaging in new forms of dialogue, convening in new solutions-seeking spaces and establishing a new normal for public service action and delivery. Governments are recognizing the resources that citizens already have, and delivering services with rather than for service users, their families and their neighbours.

About the presenter:

Molly Harrington has worked for the British Columbia public service since 1994 and has been the Policy and Research Division Assistant Deputy Minister since September 2008. A graduate of the SiG Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation, last year she also co-led the British Columbia Social Innovation Advisory Council alongside SiG director, Al Etmanski and is the government Chair of  BC Partners for Social Impact.

Molly holds a B.A. in economics and history from the University of Toronto and an M.A. in planning from the University of British Columbia. Over the past 3 years, Molly has been the Assistant Deputy Minister of Policy and Research at the Ministry of Social Development and is responsible for income and disability assistance policy and the province’s disability strategy.

Simulating Social Innovation

The SiG@Waterloo Simulation and Modelling Team believes that software has a strong role to play in supporting social innovation. They have an ambitious agenda: to give decision-makers the tools to explore the impacts of their actions before they are enacted. There has been a recent explosion in interest in a new type of “Lab.” These Labs take different forms, but share a common commitment to support social change. SiG@Waterloo is working on a particular kind of Lab called a “Social Innovation Lab.” Read more on Social Innovation Labs.

A key element of this unique form of Lab will be the use of visualisation and simulation software. Many systems-change processes already use mapping and prototyping to help participants to understand and engage with systems. Advances in technology have made it possible to imagine developing software that would allow decision-makers to interact with game-like models of the systems they are working within. Read more on simulating social innovations.

Webinar speakers include Mark Tovey, Lead Researcher, and Kirsten Robinson, co-author of the original SiG white paper on Social Innovation Labs.


Breakdown, Change-as-usual, or Breakthrough: driving change in business

Volans’ latest report Breakthrough: Business Leaders, Market Revolutions, highlights three scenarios ahead – breakdown, change-as-usual and breakthrough. It calls upon business leaders to challenge current norms and approaches to capitalism and corporate responsibility. To see a great snapshot of what Breakthrough Capitalism means, watch their video here.

Joining us for the webinar posted above was Amy Birchall, Director, Client Services at Volans & Charmian Love, Co-Founder and Director of Volans. Based in the UK, Volans drives market-based solutions to the future’s greatest challenges by generating thought leadership, convening strategic conversations and developing the programs and processes that support organizational and culture change. Volans is also currently working on a joint report with SiG and KPMG on the state of corporate social innovation in Canada.

A copy of the Breakthrough report can be downloaded from the Breakthrough Capitalism website.


Growing the Core Economy: An opportunity for co-production

Public services face great challenges: increasing demand, rising expectations, entrenched social problems and reduced budgets. Reform is not enough to overcome these―radical innovation is needed, and must move from the margins to the mainstream. But what should inform this radical innovation? Co-production has the potential to revolutionize how we deliver health, education, policing and other services, making them more effective, efficient and sustainable.

Take a look at the photos from the event at MaRS on July 15.

What is co-production? Co-production has been described as the means of delivering public services in an equal and reciprocal relationship between professionals, people using services, their families and their neighbours. Where beneficial activities are co-produced in this way, both services and neighbourhoods become far more effective agents of change.

About Lucie Stephens
As the Head of Co-production in the Social Policy team at nef, Lucie Stephens aims to increase the amount of co-production taking place in public services in the UK and overseas. Lucie supports people in developing their co-production practice. She documents examples and develops the theory of co-production, sharing learning and auditing existing activity. Lucie works with communities, non-profit organizations, policy-makers and those designing and delivering public services. Her related publications include “The Co-production Manifesto“, “Public Services Inside Out” and “The New Wealth of Time“.

Old Habits Die Hard: opportunities & curveballs in Developmental Evaluation with Michael Quinn Patton

Developmental Evaluation (DE) offers a powerful approach for tracking and assessing innovations in complex situations. It is a process that requires but also encourages stronger relationships between social innovators and key decision makers. If you find yourself involved in the very beginning or a changing phase of a project, DE might be something that could make a world of difference to the impact you can achieve.

Michael has also generously offered his slides for download here.

DE has been getting increased attention, especially in Canada.  As with any new approach, as it attracts interest, — and people begin labeling what they’re doing by the new name – “fidelity” issues arise.  DE is not for every evaluation situation.  Indeed, the niche is quite specific.  Calling an evaluation “DE” doesn’t make it DE.  So what is the core of DE?  What are its minimum specifications (min specs)? What are the challenges in staying the course in developmental evaluation (and not reverting back to old habits and traditional ways of conducting evaluations). These are the issues Patton will discuss, covering enough of the basics of DE to inform those who are new to it what it is and getting into issues of fidelity, sustainability, and quality for those with more knowledge and experience.

About the presenter:

Michael Quinn Patton is the head of an organizational development consulting business: Utilization-Focused Information and Training. Known for five influential books on evaluation, including Qualitative/Evaluation and Research Methods, he was the 1984 recipient of the Alva and Gunnar Myrdal Award from the Evaluation Research Society for “outstanding contributions to evaluation use and practice”.

Dr. Patton is also the former President of the American Evaluation Association (AEA). Dr. Patton has worked with organizations and programs at the international, national, state, and local levels, and with philanthropic, not-for-profit, private sector, and government programs.

Michael’s books include: 

Developmental Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use

Getting to Maybe, co-authored with Frances Westley and Brenda Zimmerman

Sarah Schulman asks “Are We Doing Good?”

Care worker Vanessa thought she was doing a good job. 100% of her clients liked her. One of those clients was Donna. Donna was in her late 80s: “This isn’t a life what I have.”

Vanessa and Donna were part of an aged care service described as innovative and impactful. But was this service good? For whom?

Watch this webinar for a provocative conversation about how we define and measure good outcomes.

For the past 5 years, Sarah Schulman has been ‘radically redesigning’ youth, family crisis, and aged care services. They talked a lot about social problems (wicked versus tame). They talked a lot about methods (design thinking, systems thinking). And they even talked a lot about impact (effective, efficient). But, they didn’t talk nearly enough about what was good. Do you?

Kate Sutherland is Revolutionizing the way we work together

Facilitators take note. Want to ensure that your next presentation or working session has optimal energy for idea generation? Kate Sutherland has the answer. Kate opened our Inspiring Action for Social Impact event, which was held in partnership with the MaRS Global Leadership Series on April 15, with the following instructions:

“Think about what the energy in the room feels like right now.”

If she had asked me to share my impressions out loud, I would have said:

“Curious but awkward, friendly but cool.”

Kate then asked everyone to think about a time in our lives when we were at our best, and invited us to turn to the person next to us to tell him or her about it. After five minutes of animated chatter she asked us again to feel the energy in the room. Quite honestly, the room was totally transformed. Watch Kate’s full presentation below to capture some of that energy.

Dr. Frances Westley on Social Innovation Labs: Creating the conditions for disruptive change

A Social Innovation Lab methodology is in development, merging existing lab elements with new ones specific to social innovation. The proposed SI Lab will focus on broad system change to address the root causes of complex social and ecological problems.

On February 21, 2013 Frances Westley, best-selling co-author of Getting to Maybe: How the World is Changed, shared her insights on this emerging field of work.

Frances Westley is one of the world’s leading experts on social innovation. As the Director of the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR) at the University of Waterloo, she leads an active research team that is exploring the dynamics of how change happens in complex, linked social and ecological systems. See photos from this event.

Bryan Boyer presents Recipes for Systemic Change

At Sitra Bryan Boyer focuses on building the Helsinki Design Lab initiative in Finland while sharing their ideas around the world. This includes their Studio Model, as well as the HDL Global event and website. Watch Bryan’s presentation at MaRS recorded for their Global Leadership Series

 Cameron Norman on Designing for Change: Complexity, Creativity and Scale in Social Innovation

How can the science of behaviour and systems and the methods of design inform the way change is manifest in the complex systems that humans operate? This presentation brought together behaviour change, systems and design thinking to suggest ways in which we can better understand the mechanisms that drive change, prevent it, and help determine the appropriate scale for directing our energies. The aim was to foster discussion on ways to bring together theory with evidence from research and practice to design effective social innovations.

Alastair Wilson on Meritocracy: Education, Technology, and Our Democratic Ideals

The School for Social Entrepreneurs – Ontario teamed up with Net Change Week and SiG’s Social Impact Series to bring in Alastair Wilson, CEO of the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) in the UK, for a provocative talk called: “Down with Meritocracy! Education, Technology, and Our Democratic Ideals.”

Geoff Mulgan Tour

Geoff Mulgan is recognized internationally as a leading speaker on social innovation and its successful realization. Very familiar with the pinch of austere budgets in the UK, Geoff will discuss the opportunities society has to overcome the barriers that fiscal challenges present to innovation.

While in Canada, Geoff presented on several topics, among them, Innovation and Austerity, Public Strategy, Resilient Neighborhoods and Social Entrepreneurship. We have compiled all of his presentations in one page here.

Ezio Manzini on the role of design in social systems

For more than two decades Ezio Manzini has been working in the field of design for sustainability. Most recently, his interests have focussed on social innovation – considered a major driver of sustainable changes – and on what design can do to support it. In this perspective he started and currently coordinates, DESIS: an international network of schools of design and other design-related organisations specifically active in the field of design for social innovation and sustainability. Ezio spoke on two occasions during his visit and we have posted them here.

2011 Event Archive

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