Information is everywhere (and if you live in cities, people might be everywhere, too) and yet the volume of information we see is overwhelmed by what we do not see. Zombies are among us like information and because of that information might be less attuned to what is going on around them. This has enormous consequences and most of it is not good.
A recent trip to baseball’s legendary Fenway Park provided the ideal example of understanding systems and how they can create public health problems like obesity through structural means. Being aware of these systems, their boundaries, and their activities can help us better find the causes of individual activity by looking at what encourages behaviour not just what people do.
Leveraging systems change comes when you are willing to examine the system itself, not just the component parts. News media is struggling to remain financially viable in a time when readership / viewership is high and revenues low by considering ways to adapt to an online world and the way it thinks about the problem […]
In Orwell’s classic Animal Farm the characters often oscillate between their evaluative assessments on the merits of two or four legs. The value was socially constructed, however in practice there are real tangible benefits socially and otherwise to having two legs, which serves as an apt metaphor for understanding the role of scaling in social […]
An emerging look at evolutionary behaviour is suggesting that we are better suited for survival by working together than in competition. This cooperation imperative has been called “survival of the kindness” which risks lumping affective social generosity and goodwill with effectiveness and desirability and, in doing so, risks the entire enterprise of collaboration-based efforts.
Yes, but does it scale? – Question asked at nearly every presentation on a social innovation ever made* It is maddening to see wheels get reinvented and something that is so impactful in one setting never seen outside of that context. At a time of widespread austerity, global resource constraints, and pressing social problems it is tempting […]
Developmental evaluation is an approach to evaluating programs that takes account of complexity and changing conditions, supports innovation, and serves as a vehicle for adaptation for leaders seeking feedback on how to adapt to these evolving forces. It is not simply about improving programs, but developing them. From a technical point of view, this means […]
In April 2013 the world was horrified to learn that more than one thousand people were killed in a Bangladeshi factory used to make largely low-priced clothes for Western fashion houses. As the stories of sadness, loss and survival emerged from that rubble so too did cries of indignation and disgust from human rights groups, […]
In complex systems there is a lot to pay attention to. Mindfulness and contemplative inquiry built into the organization can be a way to deal with complexity and help detect the weak signals that will make it thrive and be resilient in the face of challenges. Most human-centred social ventures spend much of their time […]
Without best evidence (which is almost always lacking in social innovation by its very nature), setting performance targets related to scale a priori is foolish. For innovators themselves, equally foolish is not gathering the kind of information about the systems they are operating in to know if they are the human or the ant and whether a shower is on the way.