Joseph Schumpeter, the guru of innovation, addressed the process of innovation with his theory of creative destruction and his definition of entrepreneurs as people who combined existing elements in new ways to create a new product or service. Social innovation is a new potential megatrend, however with roots back in the 60’s and related to strategies, concepts, ideas and organizations that meet social needs such as working conditions, education, community development and health that extend and strengthen the civil society. The term is used in many ways and related to innovations such as microcredit and internet based distance learning as well as social entrepreneurship.
However, recently business people and academics started to connect the dots bring doing well together with doing business, i.e. making the cake bigger before slicing it up. An example is the Canadian center for Social Innovation who clam on their web that ‘The Centre for Social Innovation is a social enterprise with a mission to catalyze social innovation in Toronto and around the world. We believe that society is facing unprecedented economic, environmental, social and cultural challenges. We also believe that new innovations are the key to turning these challenges into opportunities to improve our communities and our planet.’ Read more at http://socialinnovation.ca/
Moreover, Michael E. Porter the Harvard University professor, also recently published paper where he explain why business leaders must focus on shared value – creating products and services that benefit not only the company but also society. Or as like to put it, make the pie bigger… Responsible and smart entrepreneurs understand to create value through actions beneficial for all. Without a working society and environment there is not much business to do. See Porter’s movie in one of my older blog posts http://www.penker.se/michael-e-porter-sends-csr-back-to-the-stoneage-now-it-is-time-for-real-entrepreneurship/
There is also a new book published on the subject, Social Innovation, Inc. by Janson Saul. It is about five strategies for driving business growth through social change. According to Janson there are five key drivers for social capitalism and capital market
- Corporations are more powerful than governments
- Consumers are more powerful than citizens
- Social issues are now business ideas
- Philanthropy has become a commodity
- The value of intangible assets is rising
Janson also point out five key path to success,
- Create revenues through submarket products and services
- Enter new markets through backdoor channels
- Build emotional bonds with customers
- Develop pipelines for talent
- Influence reverse lobbying
Another interesting trend is place management, also a kind of social innovation, focused on reinventing places, societies as well as business clusters around the globe. There will be blog posts about this exiting topic, and I can promise a lot of interesting material. The international though leader in the subject is Christer Asplund, co-writer to Philip Kottler and senior adviser at Bearing Consulting, who is also launching his new book this autumn.