There are a number of guides and resources available for individuals looking to start new social enterprises and nonprofit organizations. There are fewer resources available that help innovators understand, navigate and transform the broader landscape in which they work.
Social innovators hail from a range of sectors and work within existing systems that are much larger and more complex than any single organization. Too often these systems not only produce unsatisfactory outcomes, but they also stifle the innovation needed to produce measurable results.
The strategies we offer here are not about the logistics of running a new organization. This Innovator’s Toolkit focuses on breaking through broken systems and on getting results for and with the citizens you serve.
We developed this Innovator’s Toolkit to help provide system-level change strategies, tips and tools culled from the experience of innovators driving change in communities across the country. The Innovator’s Toolkit is also based on a framework for advancing innovation developed in The Power of Social Innovation. Read more by downloading Chapter 1: Catalyzing Social Change.
The Toolkit will help individuals like you to better understand some of the keys to success, what we call civic actions, shared by notable innovators. But of course this Innovator’s Toolkit is incomplete, so please share with us the tools that have worked in your own experience as an innovator working to bring change to your community!
Many innovators tackle a specific problem head-on by delivering a particular service, technology or program. A second type of innovator improves the local landscape (building capacity, changing culture and developing infrastructure) for other innovators. Which are you? Both types seek to drive more results in social problem solving. Both, we hope, will find this Innovator’s Toolkit useful.
Contents (12 Civic Actions)
- 1. IDENTIFY the problem you will address
- 2. RETHINK your community’s current approach
- 3. SCAN the landscape for opportunities
- 4. CRAFT your intervention
- 5. NAVIGATE between collaboration and disruption
- 6. BALANCE top-down and participatory approaches
- 7. EXPECT more individual responsibility
- 8. OPEN space for new ideas
- 9. ADVOCATE for success
- 10. LEVERAGE social media
- 11. FOCUS your dollars on results
- 12. TAKE the first risk
- Appendix: Self-Assessment Template