What exactly is Social Innovation?

People often ask me what Social Innovation is and my answer constantly evolves, but I strongly feel that it’s importance will continue to emerge.

Social Innovation is finding solutions to the social, cultural and environmental challenges we together face.

The world and our society has experienced unprecedented growth in the last 100 years. While we have marvelled at our progress we are only now starting to realise the impact on ourselves, on our communities and on our earth.

Social Innovation challenges these notions. It asks us to look outside the systems that are now such a part of our lives, to challenge our unquenchable desire to consume, our sometimes limiting education systems, our population explosion and it’s impact, and our often crumbling health systems.

It often pushes for a reconnection to our community, it offers us the opportunity to make a difference in our lives, the lives of those around us, of our global village and, our precious planet.

The examples are varied yet so very exciting:

From Umair H and his New Capitalist Manifesto:   Breaking habits of extracting value and running passionless organisations, to creating enduring, authentic value for people. Enter Meaning Organisations: create micro- and macro-structures that fuel radically meaningful work, life, and play.

To the new consumer behaviour Collaborative Consumption where we swap or barter or pay for goods and services that we would have mindlessly discarded in the 20th century hyper-consumption model.

We’re connected in a way that we never before dreamed. The What Took You So Long Foundation is a team dedicated to filming grassroots NGOs, untold stories, & unsung heroes in some of the more remote corners of the globe.

Or the Start Your School Online platform that empowers everyone to create customized education environments for live online learning.

To help and supports these entrepreneurs,  organisations such as The Unreasonable Institute aim to give altruistic entrepreneurs skills and funding to effect large-scale change.

This is only a fraction of what is going on, with Social Innovation going on ingovernment to open it up, micro-donation sites that give loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries such as Kiva or the people powered political activist group GetUp, which played such a big part in the last election.

This is only just the beginning, the future is very excited now that we are so connected, informed and increasingly frustrated and empowered to make positive change.

What are your examples? And, do you have anything to add to this definition? It is always evolving and growing so would love to hear.

Announcing Social Innovation BarCamp Sat 26/2 free registration

It's free registration so sign up now!Join us for the next Social Innovation BarCamp in Sydney.  It’s free registration so sign up now and participate in a day of ideas, conversation and creative thinking.

Again we’ll be crowdsourcing ideas for creating new business models for social good and building up our community network of changemakers.

Like our previous Social Innovation BarCamps this one will provide a place for facilitated conversations (details of the session format here) where anyone can share:

  • a story or an idea
  • kick off a discussion on something they are passionate about
  • share about a cause they want to rally support for
  • road test new social innovation ideas and workshop them with a group

This is your chance to get your ideas out into the open amongst a friendly crowd, as one of the participants said after our last BarCamp:

“thanks #sibsyd, without the barcamp I would never had courage to actually talk about my ‘silly’ idea with somebody else let alone pursue it.”

Saturday, February 26, 2011 from 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM

COFA Cnr Greens Road & Oxford Street, Paddington 2021 Australia

New initiative: The Social Change Collaboratory

David Hood has kicked off an exciting new initiative in Melbourne for the new year. It is called The Social Change Collaboratory and it aims at:

“Connecting agents and architects of change; facilitating opportunities for collaborative projects; inspiring action on social ventures with impact; and supporting the emergence of a resilient Australian social sector.”

Find out more about the meetup here.

David has promised to give us an update on next steps once the first meetup is over.