In May 2018, the second Wayfinder took place in Istanbul, Turkey, convened by SIX, hosted by Zorlu Holding, powered by imece, in knowledge partnership with ATÖLYE and S360, and supported by the UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub and the Brookings Doha Center.
The event brought people together from around the world to share learning on how social innovations succeed, explore ways to overcome barriers and challenges with this work and to prepare for the pressing challenges of the future. We hosted a public meeting with 500+ participants in person and 1000+ who joined virtually and we embarked on a shared global learning experience for two days with 350+ people from 30 countries.
On the afternoon of the second day, deep dive workshops explored what is needed to make change in the next 10 years. The following highlights our key takeaways from the 8 workshops.
1. Localising SDGs:
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The SDGs work in the spirit of partnership and pragmatism to improve life, in a sustainable way, for future generations. They provide clear guidelines and targets for all countries to adopt in accordance with their own priorities and the environmental challenges of the world at large. The SDGs came into effect in January 2016, and as a result of determination to take the bold and transformative steps to leave no one behind and eradicate poverty.
Discovering the possible ways of turning macro-level targets into actionable items for city-level-engagement was the core aim of localizing SDGs’ deep dive session hosted by Dave Knight (S360) and Eren Öztürk (S360).
Key findings of the workshop:
- Innovation for the SDGs at a local level should be inclusive, transparent and try to achieve the most important and relevant impact locally. A “leave no-one behind” principle which creates space for quieter voices should be one of the main principles. Local SDG movements recognise the interconnectivity of actions that help deliver the SDGs.
- The SDGs offer a compelling and guiding vision for social innovation, and help provide narrative and context of what is trying to be achieved in the city or community. This vision can help ground projects with shared leadership.
- Utilizing global & local benchmarking, being radically transparent about the impacts of cities and communities, ensuring accuracy with data, providing reported information approved by stakeholders and third parties are all crucial steps to deliver multistakeholder local projects.
2. The role of human-centered design in social innovation
“Designers have traditionally focused on enhancing the look and functionality of products. Recently, they have begun using design techniques to tackle more complex problems, such as finding ways to provide low-cost healthcare throughout the world. Businesses were the first to embrace this new approach — called design thinking — and nonprofits are beginning to adopt it too.” (Design Thinking for Social Innovation, Brown & Wyatt, 2010)
We’ve seen different design techniques used globally to tackle social, cultural and environmental problems. These techniques can be utilized and implemented not only by designers but also by other stakeholders such as entrepreneurs, researchers, funders. Kerem Alper (ATÖLYE) and Luisa Covaria (OpenIDEO) gave a short workshop on design for impact to show participants how design techniques can trigger innovative ideas for the solutions of problems.
Key findings of the workshop:
Each group worked on the same design challenge: How might we create a radically collaborative ecosystem between academia, the private sector, the public sector, NGO’s and philanthropy to accelerate social innovation?” The following ideas emerged during the 45 minute workshop:
- Group 1: IDEAPOOL is a pool where we bring together ideas companies governments NGOs etc. creating a space to collect and exchange ideas.
- Group 2: ‘Ustalar Çırak, Çıraklar Usta’: An entity from one sector can bring to the table expertise in exchange of someone from another sector leveraging their vulnerabilities. A mastery of one’s knowledge can be a learning for the other and visa-versa. With this program you can bridge the knowledge gap among sectors and organisations, academia and NGOs.
- Group 3: How might we encourage organisations to involve in social innovation movement? Leaders, role models are needed to spread the spirit and know-how across the society. A well-structured leadership program for corporate executives can accelerate their involvement into the field like the program Unilever launched as leadership program.
- Group 4: How might we start the conversation between public and media sector? We envision a physical space where people can meet and re-invented a space similar to TED. A fantastic media coverage of the event will spread the news and create a impact. This physical space will be like a City Hall where people from all background can meet and generate ideas.
3. The Future of Social Financing: Developing Whole-Scale Investment Platforms
Rachel Kalbfleisch of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) defines social financing as a collection of approaches to managing money that create value for society or the environment, often while producing a financial return, while the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing calls it “an approach to managing money to solve societal challenges”. In other words, social finance is a movement that covers various ways of using finance — via socially responsible investments, micro-loans, community investments, social bonds and so on — to achieve a social or environmental impact. There are several forms of social finance that involve diverse stakeholders from government to angel investors.
The aim of this session hosted by Kerem Okumuş (S360), Karl Richter (EngagedX), Harvey Koh (FSG), Wren Laing (Big Society Capital) was to create common ground for discussion around current status of social finance in Turkey, and explore how to unlock this potential.
Key findings of the workshop:
- Projects at different stages needs different funding models; and blended sources of funds at different stages is needed within the ecosystem.
- Legal discussion forums for social entrepreneurship can create a common language between entrepreneurs, investors and fund providers.
- Action items for people engaged or want to engage in social finance in Turkey would be: 1) create a common cause 2) Advocacy for legal framework and tax incentives, 3) Multi-sector Innovation Platform (Consortium Model), 4) Task Force for Peer Learning 5) Private Sector Consortiums for supporting social innovation task forces
4. The Role of Youth: Co-designing a Young Changemaker Network
Although social innovation ecosystems have been on the rise in Turkey over the last few years, it is still at its early stage. Young people are a very valuable asset for Turkey with their fresh mindsets, soul and energy and all of these attributes can help catalyze social innovation at a big scale. Young people’s presence and involvement in solving the social, cultural and environmental problems can make the real change and ensure the sustainability of this work in the future.
The aim of the deep dive session was to explore different ways of encouraging and empowering youth to involve them in tackling social issues both as professionals and as responsible citizens. In this context, groups worked on developing a decentralized, independent young changemaker network.
The session was hosted by Duygu Kambur (imece), Ayşesu Çelik (ATÖLYE), Martin Cosarinsky Campos (Breadwinners) and Mehru Aygül (GİRVAK)
Key findings of the workshop:
- Younger generations are more enthusiastic about social innovation but often lack the means to pursue their passion. Social innovation should be incorporated into high schools and universities’ curriculum; so new methods and tools can be introduced on regular basis at an early age. However forming a decentralized and independent learning community is also very critical to spreading innovation know-how and spirit.
- The principles of this network should be diversity, fun, collaboration, openness, sharing and responsibility. The primary stakeholders are NGOs, the private sector, startups and creative industries.
Grassroot social projects should be developed through this network and the necessary tools and capacity should be provided to youth. Information and experience exchange with mentors and mentees should be bidirectional. Cooperation should transcend generations. The core point is “Not for youth, but with youth.”
5. The future of legal structures & policies
Social innovation is a relatively new term to the academic literature and business sector. Many innovators and stakeholders have difficulties making their efforts visible and mainstreamed. Effective policies can help create common ground for all to take action and collaborate. Policy challenges regarding social innovation include promoting a clear and harmonised definition of social innovation; improving the understanding of its key components and the conditions that can help design, develop and foster it; evaluating the impacts of social innovation; and scaling up successful social innovation.
The aim of this session was to discuss the current status of policy issues in Turkey and how to foster the policy-making process. The session was hosted by Sinan Ayhan (Ministry for EU Affairs) and Berivan Eliş (İstasyon TEDU Centre for Social Innovation).
Key findings of the workshop:
- There is a critical trust problem in the system. Lack of trust among ecosystem actors makes taking action difficult. Policy and regulation are important tools for building trust.
- The lawmaking model has to be participatory and dynamic since social innovation is a dynamic and cross-cutting field.
- There is a need for a flexible and inclusive legal framework based on a reliable monitoring and evaluation system run by an independent unit monitoring the social value and impact created by social enterprises.
- A dialogue and network platform engaging all parties and orchestrating concerted efforts is necessary.
6. Civil society organisations and social innovation ecosystem: exploring the intersection and the potential
Civil society organisations (CSOs) have long tackled social challenges at various scales and through a mix of approaches. Lately though, these institutions have been facing greater constraints concerning legal contexts, citizen engagement, visibility and fundraising. At the same time, the social innovation ecosystem has expanded as private sector driven practices to solve social challenges have spread out across the globe.
In this session, participants discussed how CSOs and the social innovation ecosystem intersect and explored the potential of further communication and collaboration with the help of hosts, Batuhan Aydagül (ERG) and Liana Varon (TÜSEV) and the contribution of case studies from Filiz Bikmen (Esas Sosyal) and İstem Akalp (Ashoka Turkey).
Key findings of the workshop:
- CSOs have some legal challenges about current legal structure, funding, and adaptations to the changes. Lack of research, meaningful and effective cooperation are all challenges for a social innovation ecosystem. The new trend about providing sustainability of projects and willingness of young generation are the main opportunities for a social innovation ecosystem.
- The challenges and opportunities of CSOs and social innovation ecosystem complement each other and can help to foster collaboration.
- CSO’s may provide how-know and a space for experimenting innovative methodologies/ models by social innovators through learning from each other responding to challenges and opportunities in the common ground.
- Sharing, making best practices more visible and analyzing CSOs and social innovation ecosystem as a whole are critical points. How to make a platform that unites CSOs and social innovation ecosystem was the key question popped up at the session to be followed.
7. Exploring Social Labs as a Way to Create Public Sector Innovation
Social innovation labs have grown over the past decade alongside the movement of social innovation. They present a way to bring together diverse voices, quickly trial new approaches and find solutions to social problems. In a social lab three perspectives come together: the end-user perspective (the people), the civil servant or service provider perspective (the professionals) and the organisation/government perspective (the system). It is based on the belief that only by understanding what people and systems need can innovators find the levers for change. Labs within the public sector allow for experimentation and innovation not usually found within these environments.
Ada Wong of Make a Difference Institute in Hong Kong and Chris Sigaloff, formerly of Kennisland in the Netherlands, explored how social labs could create more innovation within the public sector and how a co-creation process could come up with more diverse solutions to social problems, and crucially, involve more voices in the policy making and social change processes.
Key findings from the workshop:
- There is a difficulty in building trust between sectors but relationships and connections at the human level is still the key.
- Social labs can serve as a methodology for creating government commitment & fostering better cooperation between government and civil society
- The importance of methods and flexibility — there is a need for a variety of social lab methods and tools.
- The importance of remembering the collective, it’s about working together on a shared problem. There is a shared value in presenting government (on any level) with a well researched, full proposal.
8. What is the role of data in helping to design for and achieve more systemic change?
The amount of data we create and have access to is growing exponentially. How can this be used to create social change? This workshop explored what data people have access to, what other data they could collect, what kinds of tools can be used this for, and how can this pieced together to create something systematic? This workshop was hosted by Kristin Wolff (SPR), Cat Fay (Perpetual) and Cassie Robinson (Doteveryone).
Key findings and questions from the workshop:
- We need to focus our attention and efforts of the ‘plumbing’ of big data — focussing on the backbone infrastructure — rather than shiny new tools.
- Who protects the public interest? What can we learn globally?
- Are we asking the right questions? Is data the right solution?
- There is a lack of funding and capacity within the third sector to engage in this conversation.
- How can we better share data to have a better impact?