“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” - Albert Einstein
Community Innovation is: Change, for good, with and within a community. In other words, Community Innovation is a community-championed change with benefits that are meaningful to the community. What makes Community Innovation different from other forms of Social Innovation is the focus on community – placing community members as both the champions and as the arbiters of change.
As dynamic ‘living labs’, communities offer the perfect container for innovation. Our experience with community change has taught us to appreciate that to be effective, Community Innovation requires an appreciation of both the issue one is hoping to address, as well as a deep understanding of the unique characteristics of the community – the place and the people within it – where the innovation will be implemented. Successful Community Innovation is context specific. Solutions that have been proven effective in one community can, at best, serve as a source of inspiration for another community. These innovations, however, must be adapted and modified to reflect the unique strengths, challenges and leadership of the community where they are being replicated.
Innovation creates a solution that is distinct from – and more ambitious and uncertain – than continuous improvement. It is also important to note that innovation exists in a number of different forms. These include: program; product and/or service innovation; funding innovation or, system innovation. Karen Pittman, founder of the Forum for Youth Investment, illustrates this distinction well: “Programmatic interventions help people to beat the odds but systemic interventions seek to change the odds.” System innovation moves beyond the better alignment of programs and services within an existing system to challenge the system’s conventional norms and look beyond proven or accepted practices to create new, never-before considered solutions that are usually based on a fundamentally different set of assumptions.
In this thoughtful paper, Sylvia Cheuy explores community innovation - a unique form of social innovation that is place-based within the specific geography of a community - and notes how communities face an imperative to develop innovation capacity.
By The Bridgespan Group, and The Rockefeller Foundation
In this helpful guide, the Bridgespan Group and the Rockefeller Foundation discuss how non-profits can realistically satisfy their aspirations to innovate. This paper covers both how to identify breakthrough ideas and opportunites, and how to put them into practice.
This insightful article discusses the patterns and dynamics at work in our communities around building strong social infrastructure. She explores the patterns of our relationships with each other as individuals and groups that give rise to our physical infrastructure.
In this series we will learn what community innovation is, how it has changed the way we look at community change and how you can apply different innovation methods and lenses to your work in a meaningful way.
This webinar series explores how the practice of Community Innovation can help you create effective community change, how the practice of Community Innovation relates to other community change practices, and some of the most common Community Innovation methods.
In this video, taken at Tamarack's 2014 Collective Impact Summit, Brenda Zimmerman discussed the concept of snapback in relation to community innovation, and the difficulty involved in creating resiliency in change.
By D Magellan Horth & J. Vehar, Center for Creative Leadership
This free resource was developed by the Center for Creative Leadership, and outlines the difficulty of pursuing innovation in the face of day-to-day duties. It empahsizes the need for organizational support, focus, and a culture that nurtures creativity.