This book is about the many ways in which people are creating new and more effective answers to the biggest challenges of our times: how to cut our carbon footprint; how to keep people healthy; and how to end poverty. It describes the methods and tools for innovation being used across the world and across different sectors – the public and private sectors, civil society and the household – in the overlapping fields of the social economy, social entrepreneurship and social enterprise. It draws on inputs from hundreds of organisations to document the many methods currently being used around the world.
The materials we’ve gathered here are intended to support all those involved in social innovation: policymakers who can help to create the right conditions; foundations and philanthropists who can fund and support; social organisations trying to meet social needs more effectively; and social entrepreneurs and innovators themselves.
In other fields, methods for innovation are well understood. In medicine, science, and to a lesser degree in business, there are widely accepted ideas, tools and approaches. There are strong institutions and many people whose job requires them to be good at taking ideas from inception to impact. There is little comparable in the social field, despite the richness and vitality of social innovation. Most people trying to innovate are aware of only a fraction of the methods they could be using.
This book, and the series of which it is a part, attempt to fill this gap. In this volume, we map out the hundreds of methods for social innovation as a first step to developing a knowledge base. In the other volume of the Social Innovator series, we look at specific methods in greater depth, exploring way of developing workable ideas and setting up a social venture in a way that ensures its financial sustainability; and that its structures of accountability, governance and ownership resonate with its social mission.