The results of social innovation—new ideas that meet unmet social needs—are all around us. They include fair trade, open source software, restorative justice, distance learning, and microfinance.
Innovation is not just a matter of luck or inspiration. It can, and should, be managed, supported, and nurtured. There are hundreds of methods and tools for innovation, from developing the ideas to creating impact, some overlapping with those used in fields such as business and science, and some very different. These methods and tools can be grouped into a framework of six stages of social innovation.
More significantly, there is an increasing focus on accelerating social innovation through the development of a social innovation field, the creation of dedicated social innovation incubators and intermediaries, the emergence of “social Silicon Valleys” districts dedicated to social innovation), and increasing cross-sector collaboration. Such acceleration of the accelerator of social change is needed in a world where there is a wide gap between the scale of the problems and the solutions offered.