Our team at The Social Impact Lab is excited to start sharing our methods, insights, projects and results with our rapidly growing community. We hope these posts inspire dialogue, shared learnings and ultimately engagement in the projects and ventures we have keenly initiated.

To start things off, we thought we’d share our approach to social innovation by providing a series of posts that focus on how we achieve desired outcomes through co-creation methodologies and collaborative environments. We express our approach with this formula: People + Practice + Place = Desired Outcomes.

This formula is highly versatile as it enables both analytical and exploratory behaviours in the pursuit of improving outcomes. To be clear, we didn’t invent this formula. We have simply adopted and adapted it in order to avoid doing something over and over again while expecting a different result.

When seeking different or new results this formula encourages us to discover the influence of each of these factors:

  • Who (People) is directly contributing to and influencing the current results?
  • What cultural norms, processes, methods and policies (Practices) are driving their behaviours?
  • Which facilities, locations (analog & digital), equipment and tools (Places) play instrumental roles?

To illustrate, let’s consider a Food Truck vendor that is looking to improve sales.

Perhaps the vendor isn’t meeting demand as customers impatiently depart the order queue. Training and or increasing staff (People) could increase order through-put.

Perhaps the vendor is getting poor customer reviews. Changing recipes and ingredients (Practice) could improve customer satisfaction leading to improved retention and referral.

Perhaps the vendor isn’t in the right place at the right time. The vendor could change locations and times (analog places) to better align with target customers. The vendor could also adopt social media (digital places) to enable and inform location strategies. The vendor wouldn’t need to do all of these things, they would need to determine which People, Practice and Place factors were most influential on sales and experiment with changes accordingly.

In our case, The Social Impact Lab is using this formula to guide a constructive and experimental approach to achieving our desired outcomes which are:

  • Identify and develop innovative and disruptive projects that form the basis of strategic funding opportunities and new solutions for our community.
  • Facilitate multi-partner collaboration between agencies, corporations, and citizens to co-create solutions for the complex problems in our community.
  • Provide open access to participation in social innovation.
  • Promote and teach a systematic, citizen centric approach to social innovation.

The Social Impact Lab is just 4 months old and we have made great progress in enabling our People, Practice, Place factors. Here is where we’re at.

The Social Impact Lab is an empowered partnership between J5 Design and the United Way of Calgary and Area. Both organizations have dedicated a core team of personnel who are curious, capable, committed and humble.

Our core team fully understands that we alone cannot achieve our desired outcomes, so we’re working earnestly to activate stakeholders and participants who share our ambitions. We have met with hundreds of these people through numerous open houses focused on social agency partners, donors and United Way committees. And, we’re just getting started.

All of our divergent and convergent practices align to our core creative methodology which we refer to as Listen, Experiment & Scale. This creative process primarily relies on design thinking but also includes the best of systems thinking, service design, business model design, agile and group facilitation.

More detail on how our design thinking mindset informs our Listen, Experiment & Scale methodology will be shared and opened up for discussion in a future post.

We have a fantastic physical lab location that is highly conducive of creativity at Suite 300, 129 8 Avenue S.W. in Calgary, Alberta.

We hope this People + Practice + Place formula helps you see how The Social Impact Lab is working towards desired outcomes through an accountable, open, transparent, collaborative, iterative and productive approach to Social Innovation.

This post (and future posts) will be part of our Social Innovation as we seek to learn how Digital Place can help us build our ever-expanding community.

Please consider following our LinkedIn page and commenting, liking and sharing our posts that resonate with you.

To learn more about what we’re specifically working on please visit our Insights & Impact page on our website.

Thank You – Kelly Shaw, Design Director, The Social Impact Lab & J5 Design