Looking towards the world with the notion of an ecosystem in mind, makes clear acceleration of social innovation is not about the social innovation itself, but the interaction between citizen involved in social innovation and their context. So the context is really important. Very important players in this context are local government, cities and regions. They are the (democratic) structures we created as humans: a structural order that uses operational paradigms that aren’t always open to innovation. So far the institutional repertoire towards social innovation is very limited. Municipalities either embrace social innovation but employees don’t know how to organize, or they stick to the old-fashioned/classical response.
A shift in mentality
The tendency is to organize labs and networks for social innovation by applying existing operational paradigms on social innovation (challenges, scaling, etc.), instead of creating a new mentality. One new element could be: “Scale the process instead of the innovation”.
So we are not talking about what an ecosystem should consist of, but rather, that you can decide to make an ecosystem of your organization, your neighborhood or your city. Within SIAC we work towards shared insights and principles.
Bridging the gap
Our conclusion is: an ecosystem for social innovation is possible everywhere; it is a mindset. Focus on building partnerships in social innovation instead of investment opportunities. Within SIAC, we state it like this: instead of developing solutions in terms of new smart products, we argue that social innovation labs should focus on redesigning the way we are organize institutional processes. We should activate and organize in new ways within the existing capacity of local communities.
And, since it is a mindset, you don’t have to wait to reinvent our society: ecosystems for social innovation can exist everywhere, on every scale. You are invited to bridge the gap together!