This Guide to a Social Innovation Lab, published by a team led by Dr. Frances Westley at the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR), offered as a resource to peers, colleagues, practitioners, leaders from all sectors, and concerned citizens ‘“ all who have and/or will participate in change-making processes.
The Social Innovation Lab emphasizes not only imagining high potential interventions but also gaining system sight, redefining problems, and identifying opportunities in the broader context with the potential to tip systems in positive directions. It is a three-step process of developing, testing and instigating innovation strategies. It requires the right starting conditions, an investment in research and skilled facilitators. It also makes use of computer modeling to proto-typing interventions in complex systems. Like other processes for convening multi-stakeholder groups working on complex challenges, it is best suited to the early stages of making change.
The Guide begins with an overview of the history and thinking behind this new process. This is followed by a detailed set of step-by-step, practical recommendations for the design and delivery of a Social Innovation Lab. The final sections of this guide hold a collection of relevant resources that include overviews of complexity and social innovation concepts to help develop a common understanding by convenors/participants, descriptions of other lab processes, further information on the research and on activities in the workshops, and an exploration of the use of computer modeling in the Social Innovation Lab.
The researchers hope for this work is that these ideas on social innovation and these recommendations for new practice will result in a greater sense of agency for those who work on what often seem like impossible aspirations for a different, better world.