Well, as suggested in a Disrupt & Innovate blog post: “hedgehogs symbolise radical innovation because as curling up into a ball – their very successful defence strategy for millions of years – became ineffective when the car was invented, hedgehogs changed their strategy and learned how to run.”
The Disrupt & Innovate project ran a campaign this summer to find civil society hedgehogs. Using a twitter hashtag #BeTheHedgehog, they sought examples of “people, teams or whole organisations that are courageously innovative reacting to changes in the world by changing themselves and the way they pursue their mission… so that all of us can learn from them and from each other and get better at what we do.”
We are now looking for hedgehogs in Dudley borough, to help us design a programme of support for people in our sector who are keen to lead innovation and transformation* in their teams, organisations or communities. If you are a hedgehog, or know one, please leave a comment below or get in touch with me (firstname.lastname@example.org / 07501 722255 / twitter @dosticen) so that we can involve you in a conversation later this month.
* What do we mean by innovation and transformation? – you may well ask, as these are buzzwords which have lost their impact through over-use.
Innovation can be defined as the act or process of introducing new ideas, methods or devices. In our sector we tend to focus on what is often called social innovation. This is about finding novel solutions to social problems that are more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just, than present solutions. Social innovations create value primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals.
Social innovations can be described as new strategies, concepts, ideas and organisations that meet social needs – they extend and strengthen civil society. Social innovation includes the social processes of innovation, such as open source methods and techniques and also the innovations which have a social purpose. (From wikipedia)
This could mean changes in how an organisation is structured, how it operates, and/or how it is financed – often in response to changes in the context in which it is working. Examples of transformation we could develop knowledge around and try out include:
- changing governance structures or developing group or integrated structures (perhaps even joining discussions about new infrastructures of governance)
- embracing the potential of digital technologies (The New Reality offers food for thought around digital transformation in our sector)
- moving to an asset based, co-productive approach from a needs based provider approach (we’ve been exploring this through CoLab Dudley Borough and work in communities)
- adopting new income generation models (see for example, ideas in this Stanford Social Innovation Review article on nonprofit funding models in the US).
Obviously we don’t want organisations to innovate and transform for the sake of it. We are here to connect and inspire people and organisations to achieve positive change so that we have caring, vibrant and strong communities across the borough. So part of our focus is on supporting organisations to be resilient and sustainable. As well as financial sustainability, we are keen to support organisations to be adaptable and develop their leadership and strategic muscles.
If you’d like to help us design ways that we can provide support around all of these sorts of things please get in touch. We’ll be thinking and talking about ideas this month and getting ready to start doing things next month.
Image credit: Soerfm, shared through wikimedia commons using a creative commons licence