Friday, February 25, 2011

Disruptive change

As part of the innovation event I was helping to run this week, we were given an introduction to a process of encouraging disruptive social innovation.

As part of this, we were given the tool of a graph. Across the vertical access we listed all the organizational forms we had imagined addressing the problem (we had chosen) and along the horizontal access all the characteristics the organization would need to present an optimal solution.

This helps you identify, as you plot the organizational form against the characteristics (on a scale of optimal to not), under utilized opportunities. An example would be the 'netbook' where people recognized that current computing left a space where simplicity and accessibility and inexpensiveness were not occupied by any current offering.

My partner and I and another couple chose 'big themes'. We chose inequality and they chose our consumerism and its ecological consequences.

Both recognized similar gaps - current solutions are not sexy, virile or viral. They are not presently, in a nutshell, social movements - to which we want to belong, that are amplified by membership and acquire members by infection.

Both of these couples represented people from the UK (though one lives in Kenya) and I was left contemplating our absence of social movement, especially in the West. We can campaign for discrete things - the government will not privatize our forests for example - but we appear unable to assume ideological infection and campaign for grand themes - equality or a new ecological lifestyle. I tend to think of this as an impoverishment even when I recognize the peril of mass movements and ideologies not tempered by either humanity nor pragmatism.

We were both defeated by a sense of what precisely does constitute a change (a form of change) that advances our two core goals that appear to require changes of heart and consequent behaviour.

Answers on a postcard to...!!!

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