Six Key Features of Social Innovation: Lessons from the Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion (L-R) Aditya Dev Sood, Nehal Sanghavi, Ada Wong and Loiuse Pulford

Engaging in a vibrant conversation on Social Innovation, Aditya Dev Sood, Nehal Sanghavi, Ada Wong and Loiuse Pulford attempt to answer the question, ‘What is Social Innovation?’ We present the six key features discussed by the panelists.

1. ‘Social Innovation is a Process’– Louise Pulford, Chair, SIX, London looks at social innovation as a process that facilitates collaborations across sectors. The culture of social innovation according to her, should be based on the idea of sharing, co-creating and learning. It also involves understanding global experiences and adapting such lessons to  local contexts.

2. ‘Social Innovation needs to be understood in the context of social development’– Aditya Dev Sood looks at social innovation as the next step of social development. He believes that conversations and dialogues around social innovation must take place for the evolution of the discipline.

3. ‘From ‘Jugaad’ to frugal engineering: social innovation is everywhere’– Nehal Sanghavi, Advisor, USAID, india observes that social innovation has always existed in various forms and contexts. The need of the hour is to institutionalize these experiences in a platform where lessons can be shared and strong thought leaders can design solutions for the larger developmental goal.

4. Social Innovation for better, faster, cheaper results– Partnerships and alliances for social innovation need to work on the concept of ‘better-faster-cheaper’ which will align social innovation initiatives with the private sector and enable the creation of a multi-stakeholder platforms. ‘Partnership can be hell’. discussed Nehal Sanghavi, ‘if not strategised well’.

5. ‘Social Innovation should be people-led’– Ada Wong believes that a sustainable model of social innovation must necessarily be driven by people. She believes that people are constantly evolving methods and techniques to improve the conditions of their community and such life experiences must be included in any dialogue on social innovation.

6. ‘Social Innovation Lock-Ins: The Way Forward?’– The need of the hour is to bring bureaucrats, decision-makers, thought leaders and social innovators in one space and facilitate a dialogue on social innovation. Ada Wong says that such an attempt should follow a  process design, starting with drawing an empathy map and identifying how the dialogue can be mutually beneficial for the various stakeholders present. Nehal Sanghavi points out that ‘forced lock-ins will create ownership’, enabling thought leaders to take responsibility for designing solutions for those in need.

Social Innovation Exchange, India could one such platform that could be enable conversation and knowledge-sharing in India. There already exists a Social Innovation Exchange with several regional hubs. Watch out for the live account of the Break-out session on ‘Are we ready for Social Innovation Exchange, India?’ 


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