WORKING TOGETHER TO CO-CREATE SOLUTIONS
The problems you and your colleagues face are complex. Persistent. Stretching across a fragmented system and involving stakeholders with vastly different points of view, these problems have deep roots.
Join a diverse group of leaders in a process designed to overcome these system-wide challenges. Open. Collaborative. Smart. Together, we’ll help you leverage your unique knowledge, perspectives and experiences to map opportunities and prototype real world solutions.
Whether you’re working for a business, a community, or an NGO, Innovation Networks offer participants a range of benefits.
For businesses, we help solve chronic supply chain risks, including harmful labor practices, damaging environmental effects, lack of policy and infrastructure to support more sustainable alternatives and low wages that contribute to instability.
For communities, we harness expertise, resources and interests across sectors to solve problems ranging from toxic exposures and discharges to low producer wages to pollution.
For NGOs, we offer a fresh approach that results in high impact results, rapid progress, and builds greater trust to support future collaboration across industry, government, and private sectors.
KEYS TO YOUR SUCCESS
Our Innovation Network approach is designed to help you succeed. What makes it so uniquely effective?
We carefully develop goals that are audacious, but specific and possible. One key reason we push big goals is because they force the group to work at the right scale. “Ending labor abuses, including child labor, in the cocoa industry” can justify just about any action, whereas “Improving farmer incomes to a level where they can pay legal wages for required labor and still earn a living wage” requires everyone in the room to truly think differently—at speed and scale.
We move extremely quickly, nearly simultaneously analyzing the system and prototyping initiatives. Our Innovation Networks develop concepts and prototypes in their first meetings, knowing that we will grow some and abandon others. Early in the process we employ graphic artists and designers to aid in creating appealing prototype materials for each initiative , which helps prevent the groups from getting caught up in high-level conceptual debates. In its first day and a half meeting, the Non-GMO Supply Working Group conceived eight major market interventions, which they then prototyped within 4 months.
We put people at the center. Social innovation work, despite its focus, can be a very exclusive domain. We engage “Context Experts,” people with direct experience in areas we are trying to change (in this case, cocoa farmers), as active participants in our innovation networks. We use human-centered design approaches to build deep insight and empathy among the working group members so they initiate practices that work for real people on the ground.
We start with innovators. While many lab and social innovation approaches first engage the larger players in a sector or industry, we’ve discovered this approach may actually be counterproductive because they are often the most invested in the current value model. With both our Solar Circle and Non-GMO Supply innovation networks, we began with a few larger players and mostly mid-tier companies that were actively investing in an emerging value model. As those groups demonstrated successful approaches to scaling, the larger companies then want to join (this happens within the first year or two of a working group)
We use a systematic approach, leveraging strategic tensions that commonly pull stakeholders apart. For example, “pragmatists” often want to focus on solving a specific business or social problem while “purists” often want to reinvent the entire system to very high standards. We convert these values tensions from sources of conflict into integrated sets of “design criteria” for generating breakthrough solutions.