Archives

Smart goals or better systems?

If you’re working toward some sort of collective goals — as an organization, network or even as an individual — you’ve most likely been asked to use SMART goal setting to frame your task. While SMART is a popular tool for management consultants and scholars, does it make sense when you’re looking to make inroads […]

Read More

Confusing change-making with actual change

Change-making is the process of transformation and not to be confused with the transformed outcome that results from such a process. We confuse the two at our peril. “We are changing the world” is a rallying cry from many individuals and organizations working in social innovation and entrepreneurship which is both a truth and untruth at the […]

Read More

The Finger Pointing to the Moon

In social innovation we are at risk of confusing our stories of success for real, genuine impact. Without theories, implementation science or evaluation we risk aspiring to travel to the moon, yet leaving our rockets stuck on the launchpad.   There is a Buddhist expression that goes like this: Be careful not to confuse the […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

The PR Problem for Design, Evaluation,and Complexity

The same might be true of design, evaluation and complexity if we let it. It’s not a surprise that these three concepts are intimately tied together, as those training to apply design thinking and strategic foresight learn. Perhaps its time to start giving these ideas away, but to do so we first need to rehab their image and apply some design thinking and brand development strategy to all three ideas. As practitioners in any or all of these fields, giving away what we do by educating, reinforcing, and ensuring that the work we do is of the highest quality is a way to lead by example. None of us is likely to change things by ourselves, but together we can do wonders.

Read More

Design for Social Norms or Social Change?

Just as we create path dependencies for one set of values, so too can we do the same for others and with other people. The focus on the outcomes of systems rather than their design is problematic if we want change. Starting with design and values at the outset, being conscious of who we invite in and how we engage them and by remaining contemplative about how these systems unfold and the emergent patterns that shape them, designers of all stripes may be better positioned to create social change rather than just for social norms.

Read More

Social Networks: Beyond the Numbers

Powerful social network research is as much about having a good statistician as it is an anthropologist and together, they need to have the story that comes from it, woven together by the users.

Read More

Design + Love = Change

Sigmund Freud believed examination of life was useful for making people better at work and love. Designers are hired for the former, but have opportunities to contribute to the latter in ways that might be better for society than anything cupid has to offer.

Read More