Shifting Cultures

Changing Systems

Preparing for Surprise


Come with your curiosity.
Share your current thinking.
Discover where social innovation is headed.

It’s very exciting to have been part of this; to see how much is emerging, to see leadership, to see younger people, the next generation of social innovators coming forward. It’s been a truly transformative experience for this movement in Canada.
- Stephen Huddart, President and CEO of The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

SIX Summer Schools are an annual global gathering and a seven-year old tradition. Pioneered by Social Innovation Exchange (SIX), the Summer Schools bring together leading social innovation thinkers, practitioners, grassroots activists and policy makers from around the world to explore key issues facing the social innovation field.

SIX Vancouver 2014 (#SIXvan14) marked the first time a Summer School was held in North America. Vancouver welcomed nearly 160 local, national and international practitioners to connect over new ideas, critical insights, practical solutions, common experiences and stories. SIX Vancouver was a collaboration between Social Innovation Exchange (SIX), Social Innovation Generation (SiG) and BC Partners for Social Impact (#BCPSI), representing the global, Canadian, and British Columbian social innovation communities respectively.

Credit: Komal Minhas for KoMedia

Credit: Komal Minhas for KoMedia

Then, when he had flown a while longer,
Something brightened toward the north;
It caught his eye they say.
And then, he flew right up against it.
He pushed his mind through,
And pulled his body after.
— Skaay, Haida Storyteller
Excerpt From: SIX Participant Pack — Welcome Letter

The welcome letter in the SIX Vancouver program invited all participants to “Go ahead. If something catches your eye over the next few days, fly right up to it. Push your possibilities and imagination through!”

What participants were collectively flying up to was the 2014 theme: How can we increase our impact? Shifting cultures, changing systems and preparing for surprise.

Change is hard and shifting culture even harder. Perhaps the joy experienced at SIX Vancouver 2014 can in part be explained by a sense of shared struggle – struggle within one’s organization, struggle within communities, struggle within oneself. The stories and exchanges surfaced the ‘creative tensions’ that exist in social innovation and the wonderful diversity of radical thinkers and doers in the space.

This report covers several days and multiple discussions about change processes, ideas that are working and some that are not. During SIX Vancouver, we were able to peel back the many layers of ongoing exploration and experimentation with social innovation processes.

Away from this gathering, we can’t wait to have all the recommended approaches in place to get started. In social innovation and public sector innovation work, we must prepare the conditions as best we can and begin the journey. We will learn together along the way, adapting the work with feedback from the system.

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Kelsey Spitz About Kelsey Spitz

Kelsey is the Senior Associate at SiG National.


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