8Ps of Powerful Social Innovation

Time shows us what some of the successful social innovations are; examples include Teach for America and it’s UK equivalent Teach First, The Big Issue, Divine Chocolate and Grameen Bank. They have transformed teaching in inner-city schools, the lives of homeless people, the earnings of farmers in the developing world and some of the world’s most deprived — turning them into successful entrepreneurs through microfinance.

But, how can we tell whether a socially innovative idea has the power to be transformative or not? I’ve been thinking about this for a while and have come up with 8Ps of Powerful Social Innovation:

  • Problem: How big is the problem the social innovation is wanting to address and is there a need for systemic change?
  • Progression: Will the solution have a significant positive impact on the problem it is tackling and propose to tackle it altogether? If it doesn’t tackle it altogether, does it move the problem along significantly?
  • People: What is the track record of the people behind the solution? Do they understand the problem, have they suggested a solution that seems to tackle it and can they or a team around them turn the idea into a reality?
  • Partnership: Who are the innovators proposing to collaborate with? Are they aiming to work with stakeholders in the private and public sectors, and civil society at large? Are they seeking the advice — and tapping into the expertise — of leaders in the field at which they are attempting to innovate in?
  • Participation: How has the innovation involved the users in its design? How does it propose to involve the users in shaping the design as it moves into delivery and more importantly, how does it build on the strengths of its users and build their capacity?
  • Price: Is the cost of the innovation cheaper than what it costs to tackle the social problem at the moment? Is it — for example — proposing to use technology to drive down costs, or is it using a more cost-effective model of delivery?
  • Prevention: How does the social innovation tackle the root of the problem? Prevention is always better than cure as the saying goes and increasingly social innovation is looking more at earlier interventions that can prevent the problem getting larger or manifesting significantly in the first place.
  • Proof: Even if the idea is in its early days, what proof is there that the idea will work? Has it been tested elsewhere, if not, has the idea been tested with proposed users?

What are your thoughts? Is there anything you would add or change?

Originally published at www.achievegood.com on October 25 , 2012.