Community Innovation

Community innovation for social impact involves an appreciation for complexity and requires a new way of thinking about making change in communities, in business, and in the world. In order to accomplish social impact, we must stop looking at the discrete elements of social projects and start trying to understand the complex relationships between them.

Some ways in which that community innovation can build momentum towards social change include being able:

  • To articulate the general malaise
  • To articulate and reflect a group’s discontent and contribute threads for a new way of doing things
  • To feed off of the movement so that it can move much more quickly

Tips for Social Innovators

Someone who fosters community innovation for social impact is a “social innovator.” In taking on such a role it is important to remember that:

  • Most social innovators have a knack for sensing when a movement is underway, and this skill can be honed. Allow yourself to think deeply about this phase and build knowledge about your environment.
  • Despite deep thought, intuition is an important guide and indicator of developing movements for change. Chapter 5 of Getting to Maybe addresses the surge of energy that social innovators must be able to ride.
  • Power can be an emergent wave of energy that is difficult to control. Social innovators must understand how to go with the flow of a movement. At the same time, they must understand the system they are engaged in, complete with its authoritative hierarchy.
  • It is virtually impossible to engage in social innovation without facing extreme isolation and failure. The ability to see this as a deep place of learning in a complex system of innovation is important. This moment of isolation is also experienced in moments of success. Take care to find comfort somewhere in between these two extremes.
  • Not every social change is a social innovation. We spend most of our lives trying to address change where it is needed. These changes add up to make fundamental differences. Sometimes, however, change is only made in increments. The important thing to remember is that both fundamental and incremental changes are important to social innovation.
  • Do what you feel you can do and follow your capacities. If enough of us are following our beliefs, there is enormous room for change. There are times, along the way, when resources become available for new ways of doing things.