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When Social Innovation Goes Wrong

When Social Innovation Goes Wrong

I attended the sharing section on When Social Innovation Goes Wrong by Christian Seelos & Johanna Mair.

In this two hour sessions, they presented us the 6 innovation pathologies that force us to rethink how social sector organizations create value. They also presented us detailed longitudinal case studies of 4 social enterprises reveal innovation archetypes that effectively sidestep these pathologies and blend innovation with scaling. By elaborating on conceptual models and tools to drive progress and to help decision makers strengthen the impact creation logic of organizations.

Companies and the public are so overwhelmed with the word INNOVATION, probably by the power of the rapid change of technology yet I do find it it may be overused.

Innovation is simply defined as new idea, creative thoughts, new imaginations in form of device or method

- Wikipedia

Then Joanna showed this slide, we all laughed. Frankly, we celebrate crazy ideas but we know some are not workable and even bad or make the situation worse by the instinct. We can improve the ideas by lots of ways, and I think asking the right questions is probably the one we should go for.

Christian later explained the architecture of innovation. Innovation is a matter of learning. Working through the process is never linear, from my own experience, without open-minded thinking, growth mindset, and expect the unexpected, the innovation process is really painful. It consists of various forms of uncertainty and worst, you will never know whether it will be successful.

I have been discussing with others ways on how to engage and amplify the impact currently the local social enterprises are doing, as I feel that most of us are still doing the awareness part, arousing the interest and then due to resources constrains or business models as most of them are service based, the impact is not as fruitful since the engagement part is missing. Of course before brainstorming the solutions and we have to ask the questions on WHY do they fail to create impact as they are supposed. Then this slide did help me consolidate the thoughts and the answer.

IF you don’t know how to scale - don’t innovate!!!

It’s ultimately the business model that support the innovation which help to scale up the innovation to create impact. Then we all further discussed on how we should innovate more or improve the scaling part, which I think it goes back to what the companies or organisation vision and mission as well as the culture and leadership. All these ingredients are critical on motivating the innovations and whether to be able to scale up.

Apart from that, Christian showed us the six innovation pathologies that limit their capacity for productive innovation. That actually is similar to why commercial startup fails.

They also gave a little more perspective on the problems as I always mention to my students, all organisations/business is solving problem, while social enterprises are solving social problems, there are two catergories we can look at, technical and relational.

Asking the right questions to solve is the key! Organisations need to revise that constantly too.

In general, I feel that it is a quite insightful sharing that could help me sort of the recent thoughts, the audience was quite well received too. Yet during Q&A, some of them were hoping to get the answers or suggestion for local HK scenes, both of them are very cautious when answering emphasis on the observation and research is more like overall research and organisational view point which may not be applicable for all. I do agree somehow, every company has its own issues, they may be the same yet different.

Their suggestions on practising innovation and building competence in the article or the talk, to me it is the similar ideas of Design Thinking and Lean startup and these will be dependable on the culture/founders/leadership of the organisations

Source: Gartner

Yidan Prize Conference Series: Asia-Pacific by HKU Faculty of Education

Yidan Prize Conference Series: Asia-Pacific by HKU Faculty of Education