Part of my silence over the last few months has been from some deep-digging I was doing in an engagement with the Social Innovation group at MaRS and with the Centre for Social Innovation. One of the great things about the engagement was an opportunity to push deeper into what’s underneath social innovation, social entrepreneurship and social enterprise. What’s come from that is seeping into most everything I’m doing right now – and so it’s about time I get back to posting what I’ve been discovering.
Perhaps the most profound observation during the course of this exploration is that social innovation and social entrepreneurship are not so much intentional movements as they are phenomena of the evolution of civilization.
As civilization reaches an increasing degree of complexity we are being confronted by the limits of the system that created it. This is being experienced as systemic instability and failure in everything from credit markets to climate change to the remix of the music industry. While we don’t know how things will evolve, we can be sure that whether through intentional actions or systemic collapses, we are entering a period of increasing reconfiguration – “the Great Remix”
At the same time numerous fields of study are converging on the realization that “everything is connected” and that connectedness, connectivity, and emergence are fundamentally important areas of understanding. This realization is key to learning how we might successfully steer our civilization toward a just and sustainable state.
The movements of social finance/innovation/entrepreneurship/tech all bring different perspectives and at the same time share a common ground. From this common ground will come the new initiatives and systems that change the trajectory of our evolution.
The frontiers of the evolution of civilization share the common ground of:
Interdependent in a “common goal”
Acknowledging a greater common goal of a just and sustainable balance among people and the planet.
Driven forward by “purpose primacy”
People and initiatives that hold a primary purpose directly related to the common goal are the catalysts of civilization’s evolution toward a just and sustainable state.
Action taken through a “practical approach”
The strategies and actions of these people and initiatives tend towards:
- Sustainable financial viability;
- Practical and productive application of techniques and approaches from non-traditional domains; and
- Distributing increasing control, earnings, and assets into the communities they serve.
The people and initiatives in this domain tend to be increasingly expressive of the following values:
- Exhibiting the qualities of open, fluid, and dynamic
- Providing spaces for people as they are and as they want to become
- Embracing the richness and wisdom in differences
- Acting with a light spirit, sense of fun, creativity and a perspective of opportunity