From Marginal To Mainstream – Social Innovation

by Paul Hobcraft

I think the recent global economic crisis has raised society issues far more. Social innovation will begin to move from the margins to the mainstream to tackle a range of these society challenges. It will inevitably need more structural support; it certainly will need more coordination and alignment by all the stakeholders involved. It needs organizing and being recognized in its own right. Are you ready to participate?

“Social innovation’ as a term is still relatively new one but societal innovation is of course not. There are many examples one could provide but firstly there is this growing need to establish an even greater “field” of social innovation within a global community as certainly necessary and needed. We need to get a broader momentum behind multiple initiatives that are having an increasing impact across the globe (health, envionment, water, shortage, food, widening inequality etc)

Any new ‘field’ needs debate, it needs organizing both at local and national levels. It needs to find a common terminology, clearer definitions of what it covers, a growing understanding of the different tools, techniques, methods and establishing a knowledge base to draw down from. Social innovation and its issues have no given geographical boundaries; it happens across societies that involves all sectors of a community: public, private and non-profit. Actually one of the real challenges is managing across the boundaries between sectors as well as across cultural boundaries.

How can we all contribute into this debate? Understanding the social challenges gives us all the possibilities to find new innovative solutions.

How can we engage in social innovation. Presently we are seemingly in a ‘great regression’ and this will continue to have an increasing impact on each of our lives.

Just remember “a rising tide lifts all the boats but an ebbing tide threatens to beach many”.

Society has many challenges, how do we individually and collectively contribute to lift others out of their plights, one clear way is to apply innovating solutions. Any thoughts?


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Paul HobcraftPaul Hobcraft runs Agility Innovation, an advisory business that stimulates sound innovation practice, researches topics that relate to innovation for the future, as well as aligning innovation to organizations core capabilities.

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  1. One area where innovation is sorely needed is in our health care delivery system in the US. It’s capitalistic underpinnings have evolved to the point that the current system is wasting money on useless and expensive liability, marketing, advertising and insurance. What we need is a president, like JFK, who can set a national goal of designing the best health care delivery system in the world and then implementing it so it can evolve into an even better, more efficient, more compassionate and less costly program.

    I have devised such a blueprint, but don’t have the wherewithall to get it in front of anyone who can run with it. I would be glad to share it with anyone who is interested, or thinks they might be able to garner some attention for it.

    Michael Brown, MD
    Emergency Physician
    Seattle, WA

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