Social Innovation and Change

Jo-Louise Huq (Ph.D., MBA)

September 2019

I subscribe to a lot of newsletters and newsfeeds and what I see coming across my desktop is content focused on the need for social innovation and how skills needed for social innovation can be developed, often through innovation labs that draw on insights from design thinking and human-centered design. I am all for these collaborative and engaging spaces!

However, I do wonder whether, in the scramble to develop designers of social innovation, we should pay a bit more attention to the challenge of encouraging change in established organizations and systems. Perhaps this is being done in some innovation labs/spaces; however, I’m not sure that it is a focus in all.

It’s great to identify and develop social innovations, but we know introducing and sustaining them in our complex social environments (organizations and sectors alike) is a real challenge. People who introduce and sustain innovations are going to be people who know what is needed (i.e., the innovation) and how to introduce it into organizations and sectors (i.e., the change).

Introducing change is a complicated endeavor that requires an understanding of context, change process, and what strategies and actions can be used to encourage change.

While there are many change models and tools out there, it is important to know that some are not really evidence-informed. Additionally, is it important to pay attention to fit between change models, the innovation, and context.

Change processes and models need to fit 1) the type of innovation being introduced, and 2) the change environment.

In my experience, fit on these two dimensions is not quite right when we consider change models. For example, many change models are focused on individuals and organizations, whereas social innovation needs attention to change at a sector level. As well, most change models are likely too simplistic to support the kind of change that social innovation needs.

I suspect a focus on change processes is a better when we think about change and social innovation.

I love the idea of social innovation for impact and change. But, I really would love to see more attention to the change part of the equation.

Please do connect if you have thoughts about the links between innovation and change.

Published by CCIG | Collaborating, Changing, Innovating, EnGaging

I am a 'pracademic,' a practitioner of collaborative change and innovation who also conducts and publishes research on collaboration, change, and innovation. This is my personal blog, and I use it to communicate about my and other's research, publications, and ideas related to change, innovation, and collaboration.

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