During his presentation last night, Marcos Salazar, founder of NYC-based Be Social Change, offered a core insight from many years of domestic investment in prototyping and scaling social enterprises.
Projects that go the distance have mostly emerged from time and attention invested in understanding the problem and the people affected by the problem rather than ~ as our genius culture would suggest ~ from an individual’s bright idea or ~ as our obsession with collaboration would encourage ~ as a product of expert brainstorming sessions.
Ian C. MacMillan supports a similar formula in less developed settings as outlined in his The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook. MacMillan’s add is that sustainable innovations have clearly ‘define[d] your segment population’ and given attention to the behavior change (i.e., carrying reusable shopping bags with you to the store) that is necessary to scale the innovation.
Remembering that sustainable solutions emerge from investing time and attention in understanding the problem, the people affected by it and the desired behavior change is a useful practice to help innovators to stay grounded in the world. MacMillan also points out that this can be practiced quite effectively by start-ups with low resources.
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