social systems Category

Do We Need a Social Innovation Taxonomy?

  As social innovation grows in popularity the inevitable questions about what we mean when we use the term crop up. How we define, categorize and utilize the language of social innovation may require a taxonomy to enable us to better identify and understand its different species in the wild.  One of the early things […]

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“If You Build It..”: A Reflection on A Social Innovation Story

If You Build it is documentary about a social innovation project aimed at cultivating design skills with youth to tackle education and social issues in a economically challenged community in North Carolina. The well-intentioned, well-developed story is not unfamiliar to those interested in social innovation, but while inspiring to some these stories mask bigger questions […]

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Reading Innovation and the New Economy

Economic changes are transforming business and work itself in ways that are having consequences well beyond supply chains and jobs, but the way employment spurs learning. A look at a recent change at a Toronto bookstore hints at a future that suggests we may want to think about what kind of economy we want not […]

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The New Zombie

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.

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Systems and Design Thinking Go to the Ballpark

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.

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Shaking the System of Knowledge Translation and Journalism

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 […]

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One leg, two leg, three leg, more?

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 […]

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Kindness Confusion in Collaboration and Co-creation

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.

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Mythmaking about speed and scale in social innovation

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 […]

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The Developmental Evaluation and Design Imperative

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 […]

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