The sources of our inspiration are many and varied. We’re particularly entranced by concepts and frameworks emerging out of complexity science and network theory. We’re also deeply interested in recent conversations about intentional innovation.
For a long time, innovation was believed to…well, just “appear”. Increasingly, organizations of all stripes are recognizing that innovation can be deliberately generated. We’ve tried to adopt a conscientious approach to innovation – to foster innovation while reflecting on our processes. But we’re just scratching the surface. The coming years will include even deeper exploration of how we can catalyze and support social innovation here in Toronto and around the world.
Open Innovation: Camps & Competitions
In the past few years there has been an explosion in the number of social innovation camps and competitions. What they all have in common is a dedication to the principles of open innovation – the idea that innovation is greatest when we engage people outside of institutional boundaries. In fall 2010, we did a report on camps and competitions for the LiveGreen Toronto Program. Here’s a stripped down version of the report, which provides a good summary of our exploration and lessons learned.
Creating the Conditions for Social Innovation Emergence
Since 2004, CSI has been experimenting with how to create the conditions for social innovation emergence. We have tried to capture the magic that is experienced the moment that you walk into our space. Just how do we actually build a culture of innnovation in our communities? What might our cities look like if they were designed for innovation? How can we generate more social entrepreneurship? This paper explores the transferable 'essence' of creating a platform for social innovation.
We are surrounded by networks. And you are too! So in 2007 we decided to convene a group of thinkers from a variety of sectors to begin tackling the questions: How do we know if our networks are performing? And how do we amplify their impact? The results of our journey are captured in a great little book called Network Evaluation: Cultivating Healthy Networks for Social Change. (The book can also be ordered in hard copy).
A Social Innovation Strategy for Ontario
Social change starts at home. That’s why we offered a set of recommendations to the Government of Ontario to help establish an enabling environment for social innovation in our province. Written as part of a larger submission on behalf of the Ontario Nonprofit Network, we highlighted the need for 1) a Social Innovation Lab, or network of labs; 2) a cross-ministerial unit within the Ontario Public Service; and, 3) a joint government-nonprofit sector table on social innovation.