Social Innovation: A Definition of Opportunity

by Al Etmanski on May 11, 2015

Tagged as: Gifts / Hospitality / Association / Generosity / Cooperation / Raising Children / Local Economy / Food / Safety / Health / Land/Environment / Care of People on the Margin

When asked recently to define social innovation I replied rather off-handedly it’s a combination of the old, the new and the surprising.

It’s not much of a definition but then again the ambiguity might be useful. Definitions all too often constrain us when at their best they’re meant to enlarge us. A good definition should make us curious, to ponder, to pause. It should help us see the road ahead with fresh eyes, perhaps even to experience wonder

 Social innovation is simply one of the latest descriptors of the timeless human pursuit to make the world a better place. It is a bundle of new learnings, technologies and methods blended with the best traditional approaches to social changes. And of course accompanied by a dash of surprise. Thank heaven for surprise — it covers a multitude of human foibles, certainties and predictions.

Social innovation isn’t so much a definition as an opportunity to:

  • think with an open mind

  • work with an open heart

  • leverage all sources of financing

  • refresh our methods and technologies and

  • spread solutions that work.

The greatest opportunity is to change the way we work together. Particularly to expand who we work with. It’s time to admit our societal and planetary challenges are too formidable to be resolved solely by rallying loyal supporters. It’s time to embrace those who have hurt and betrayed us and who we have hurt and betrayed.

(Thanks to Ben Weinlick, founder of ThinkJar Collective for the image.)