What social innovation means to me is opportunity. Social innovation is finding traditionally undetected connections and possibilities, and then strategically taking advantage of those opportunities to make a positive impact on the world we live in. Innovation is something constantly pursued in the fields of business and science, but it can be pursued by nonprofits and community enterprises as well. When these various actors come together, this is when social innovation can be seen. Social innovation means boldly challenging systemic issues and collaborating with other actors in ways not traditionally seen. What social innovation means to me is the requirements for achieving it; utilizing experience, creating an environment conducive to innovation, and accepting risk.
In the modern day, stories are often constructed in a way to overvalue a successful (or innovative) person’s natural talent. An accomplished scientist may be regarded as brilliant, or an athlete as a supernatural human. While natural ability does play a role in success - especially in the case of extreme outliers - it plays a small one in the path towards finding innovative solutions to complex problems, or success in general. What plays a much larger role is hours spent dedicated to certain material or reaching a goal. Hard work must be dedicated to accomplish great, innovative achievements. Innovative approaches that have successful results rely on a strong understanding of the material being explored. One must understand what others have done before them, and understand what can be done better.
Innovation can be found only in environments where it is welcomed. To create innovative solutions, an acceptance of new, possibly risky methods must exist. People must also be in an environment where they can, and want to, dedicate time and energy to finding innovative ways to help their community or world. Strategic exploration of complex issues is a prerequisite to creating an innovative solution. This can be done through hands-on experience by living through an issue or listening to those that are.
Risk is always present in innovation. When a new approach that is truly innovative is utilized, failure is a possibility. The threat of failure must always be regarded, mitigated, and then accepted. Innovative pursuits have the potential to result in failure, but the desire to improve the world we all live in must persevere in the minds of social entrepreneurs over a fear of failure. As long as those who wish to make their communities a better place utilize their experience, embrace innovation, and remain unperturbed by the possibility of failure, great men and women will find innovative ways to help those around them.