Where we start to engage across society is through the power of ideas that can touch many people’s lives. Through innovation we should always attempt to do this. Social innovation is no different. Eventually through witnessing a change a person sees as valuable in their values, as they want to interpret it a powerful incentive to change. It is a slow process but it has a higher chance of lasting success than forcing something onto someone really reluctantly, that is sometimes sensing alienated by the majority that lie outside their immediate group. For social innovation to work we need to make innovation socially personal.
Every innovation or idea should benefit from the recognition of a burning need, not just of society but of the individual who is often feeling trapped outside the mainstream but wanting to come in and participate. As I suggest below, it is often a messy, rough and tough road. It is how we learn to reinterpret this consistently to each person that feels more and more left outside mainstream society will help spread your idea more, so the solution becomes more of the connected idea that eventually leads to greater individual acceptance, and eventual societal change. Slower in its approach than other more direct, mass ways perhaps but potentially more lasting. Through one interaction, followed by another one, at one time. This is where the power of an idea really does touch one persons life, then another. They see it for themselves, others feel it also and adopt the idea for themselves as well and so something spreads.
A rough, tough and messy path we often have to travel.
Often the route to success is rough, tough and messy and needing consistent adapting as you go and learn. To draw people back into the broader community, to give them hope in these tough economic times, you will need to provide them a connection, their connection, a script of where you can demonstrate a model of behaviour change that is seen as a better alternative than what they currently employ as their present behaviour. But you have to offer the actual alternative not just dangle it as the carrot; otherwise it is simply no more than the possible alternative to the stick and for many, dangling ‘something’ is a non-event, simply a waste of time.
Certain ways of thinking in marginal societies is their dominant thinking; it often clashes with mainstream thinking. Reinterpretation often through argument, engagement, in demonstrating success builds these success scripts and can gain the eventual commitment to make a change. It can lead to drawing groups back in. They see it perhaps differently initially but the more you make their links, their interpretation of why they should change, and can demonstrate what it provides, the better chances you have of changing how someone currently thinks and acts, they can see an alternative.
It is a slow and often frustrating process but renewal, through social innovating, starts by touching peoples lives with a specific meaning to them, otherwise it simply passes them by.
Paul 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.