As a social enterprise, at 2811 we work every day to seek to regenerate today’s economic, social, and ecological breakdowns, based on social innovation solutions and the development of new skills in people and organizations that promote systemic change in the future.
Under this mission, social innovation has been key to our work and it is valid to ask if this concept is a phenomenon, a process, a product or a service. The truth is a phenomenon whose definitions and limits have been flexible over time.
There is no single definition of social innovation –although many people associate it with technology and platforms such as Uber or Airbnb– but perhaps one of the simplest ways to define it is that it is about finding more effective, efficient and sustainable solutions than the existing ones to a specific social problem. And for this, the work of co-creation is key.
Co-creation requires collaboration and exploration
Social innovation is not a one-step process or one that only requires waking up one day and having a unique, innovative and unrepeatable idea for a particular area. Nor do you have to be a Mark Zuckerberg to be a social innovator, because it goes much further. The truth is, you only have to consider these stages:
- Explore opportunities and challenges:
An analysis should be made of the nature of labor markets and of where new methods could be tried, from education and training to job search and apprenticeship services.
- Generate ideas:
For this it may be key to make a map with effective projects on a global scale.
- Develop and test:
It is about developing ideas, contemplating their viability.
- Make the case:
Ideally prepare a prototype that validates the operation of the idea, which is typically also understood as “proof of concept”.
- Deliver and implement:
This can be one of the most difficult stages, because it is about generating funds in order to award grants to scale up projects with strong evidence of impact and implementation.
- Grow, scale and extend:
It is the phase in which previously subsidized projects are completed, allowing those who implement them to make big decisions about their future, with learning and internship periods.
- Analyze the system:
At this point, an analysis process begins to explore how the implementation of the projects has had an impact at the community, regional or national level.
Social innovation as a necessity
Since 2019, we have accompanied and advised the Santo Tomás Institution – made up of the University, the Professional Institute and the Technical Training Center – in the reformulation and alignment of its Institutional Strategic Plan, emphasizing innovation with a social, ecological and economic as a differentiating value. A great example of learning (and results), that we can tell.
This process has gone through different stages, according to organizational needs. Initially, in 2020, the platform guided and structured the institutional strategy, and designed the social innovation model. Additionally, it defined an articulation system for development and collaborative work between the institution and the ecosystem. In this process, information was collected and systematized to develop a methodological and evaluation model that monitors the fulfillment of objectives.
In the second stage, in 2021, the previously designed model was implemented through a pilot training and certification plan aimed at professors and internal and external authorities of the institution. In turn, collaborative work spaces were co-designed in four regions of Chile, in order to establish a space for the generation of new ideas around social innovation.
Finally, in a third stage, a Diploma in Social Innovation was designed and programmed, with the objective that the students develop solutions to social and environmental problems that improve the conditions of the target populations.
Thus we have managed to turn social innovation into one of the fundamental axes of this institution, to ensure that more people become agents of change, producing social innovation for a more sustainable future. And all collaboratively!