#3 Collaborative Social Innovation: Ten Frontiers for the Future of Engagement

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  • We are delighted to share that we will be publishing the Peoples Insights Annual Report titled Now & Next: Future of Engagement in January 2013 as an interactive iPad app. The report will highlight the ten most important frontiers that will define the future of engagement for marketers, entrepreneurs and changemakers: Crowdfunding, Transmedia Storytelling, Social Curation, Behavior Change Games, Grassroots Change Movements, Collaborative Social Innovation, Crowdsourced Product Innovation, Collective Intelligence, Social Recommendation and Hybrid Reality Experiences.

    Throughout 2012, 100+ planners on MSLGROUPs Insights Network have been tracking inspiring web platforms and brand programs at the intersection of social data, citizenship, crowdsourcing and storytelling. Every week, we pick up one project and curate the conversations around it on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web into a weekly insights report. Every quarter, we compile these insights, along with original research and insights from the MSLGROUP global network, into the Peoples Insights Quarterly Magazine. Now, we have synthesized the insights from our year-long endeavor in future scanning as foresights into the future of engagement.

    We believe, like William Gibson that, the future is already here; its just not very evenly distributed. So, innovative web platforms in the areas of social data, citizenship, crowdsourcing and storytelling point towards interesting possibilities for brand programs that leverage similar models to engage people. In turn, the web platforms and brand programs of today give us clues to the future of engagement tomorrow.

    In our reports on the ten frontiers that will define the future of engagement, we start by describing why they are important, how they work, and how brands might benefit from them; we then examine web platforms and brand programs that point to the future (that is already here); then finish by identifying some of the most important features of that future, with our recommendations on how to benefit from them.

    For the next ten weeks, we will publish these reports one by one, then present them together, in context, as an interactive iPad app. Do subscribe to our email newsletter to receive each report and also an invite to download a free copy of the interactive iPad app.

    Peoples Insights Annual Report

  • 3What is Collaborative Social Innovation?

    Source: thinkpublic on Flickr

    Organizations and people co-design innovative and sustainable solutions to create shared value.

    Click to watch: OpenIDEO by IDEO

    Collaborative social innovation initiatives involve businesses, governments, non-profits and changemakers coming together to co-create innovative and sustainable solutions around a shared purpose. Such initiatives typically focus on the areas that have the highest potential to create shared value: environment, energy and sustainability; health, wellness and nutrition; education, learning and capability building; and governance, public services and public spaces. Changemakers are typically rewarded with prize money, recognition, funding or support; organizations find solutions to important challenges; and society at large benefits from the innovative solutions.

    The rise of collaborative social innovation can be attributed to three broad trends. First, businesses, governments and non-profits are realizing the importance of multi-stakeholder social innovation solutions that create shared value, especially in the context of engaging Gen Ys. Second, organizations like the XPrize Foundation (video), which have a long history of creating large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions to solve problems that are important for society, are

    learning how to reach new groups of innovators from across the world, thanks to the internet. Third, networks like TED, PopTech, Echoing Green (video), Ashoka (video) and StartingBloc (video) are connecting young changemakers and showcasing their work, through conferences, challenges and fellowships, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.

    As a result, we are seeing a number of platforms focusing on different aspects of collaborative social innovation.

    Open IDEO (video) by design and innovation consultancy IDEO has partnered with businesses, governments, and non-profits to create a series of collaborative social innovation challenges.

    ChallengePost, MindMixer (video), Ashoka Change makers (video) and One Billion Minds (video) are other third-party collaborative social innovation platforms which enable organizations to create challenges for the public. ChallengePost focuses on open government challenges and MindMixer encourages civic engagement, while Ashoka Change makers and One Billion Minds feature a wide range of social innovation challenges. Other platforms, like MIT Center for Collective Intelligences Climate CoLab project, are focused on a single topic, like climate change.

  • Click to watch: Ashoka Change makers

    Source: grafixer on Flickr

    How does Collaborative Social Innovation work?

    Open government is another important area for collaborative social innovation. In the US, Challenge.gov, which is built on Challenge Post, has created a series of open government challenges for federal, state and local agencies, while Data.gov encourages developers to build applications using its public data sets and showcases the best applications. In parallel, organizations like Sunlight Foundation (video) and Code for America (video) are helping create the ecosystem to enable collaborative social innovation. In the UK, SparkCentral is a government collaborative social innovation platform that aims to build partnerships across the public, private and voluntary sectors to deliver more for less. In Finland, Open Ministry is a legislation crowdsourcing platform that enables Finnish citizens to propose new laws to the parliament.

    Some of these collaborative social innovation platforms have had significant impact. For instance, Ashoka Change makers has channeled $600 million in funding to more than 10,000 social innovators, through more than 50 challenges, with the help of more than 500,000 community members.

    The success of collaborative social innovation initiatives shows that organizations and people are capable of co-creating innovative solutions to complex problems, and has created a new model

    Collaborative social innovation platforms are typically a hybrid of three models: innovation challenges, innovation ecosystems, and open data platforms.

    Most online collaborative social innovation initiatives follow a contest model in which an organization posts a challenge on a platform and invites individuals, groups of individuals or other organizations to submit innovations. These innovations can be at any stage of completion, ranging from ideas or sketches to full-blown business proposals to products, services or technologies that already exist at a smaller scale.

    Some platforms include a structured design thinking approach with inspiration, concepting, evaluation and collaboration phases (OpenIDEO (video)), while others break up the challenge into what, where and who elements (Climate CoLab). Some platforms match community members with challenges based on interest (ChallengePost) while other motivate community members by using game mechanics like a design quotient score (OpenIDEO).

    for changemakers to showcase their innovations, for governments and foundations to find solutions to societal issues and for businesses to realize sustainable growth.

    Like MITs Thomas W. Malone says:

    We want to create more intelligent organizations, more intelligent businesses, more intelligent governments, more intelligent societies. As all the people and computers on our planet get more and more closely connected, its becoming increasingly useful to think of all the people and computers on the planet as a kind of global brain.

  • 5Click to watch: GE Ecomagination Challenge

    Other social innovation challenges dont have a direct impact on the companys business, but do strengthen the companys reputation by strengthening its association with social innovation. In many such initiatives, companies partner with educational institutions or non-profit organizations and target students and young innovators. Dell Social Innovation Challenge (video), HP Social Innovation Relay (video), Citi Innovation Challenge (video), Sony Open Planet Ideas (video#!), Toyota Ideas for Good (video), Samsung Solve for Tomorrow (video), Intel Innovators (video),Sygenta Thought for Food Challenge (video, McKinsey Social Innovation Video Contest (video) and Dell Go Green Challenge (on MSLGROUPs Peoples Lab crowdsourcing platform) are good examples.

    Some companies commit to long-term social innovation challenge platforms, with the intention of creating an ecosystem to connect changemakers and build capabilities. For

    Innovations are judged either quantitatively according to a set of scoring criteria or qualitatively by a panel of judges typically made up of experts, specialists and members of the funding committee. In some cases, community members must vote on ideas to increase their chances of appearing before the judges. Winning innovators are rewarded with either cash prizes (ChallengePost, Ashoka Change makers (video)) or with recognition and satisfaction that they have helped contribute to social good (OpenIDEO, Open Ministry).

    Some of these innovation challenge platforms are designed primarily as destination communities (OpenIDEO, One Billion Minds (video)), while others offer white label options to enable organizations to create their own standalone challenge platforms (ChallengePost, MindMixer (video)).

    For some platforms, like Ashoka Change makers, the innova