Exploring Social Innovation

I remember a while back telling someone that what I wanted to do was to try to help businesses be more human. At the time I thought if anybody heard me say that, they’d probably think I was somewhat strange. But I guess we’re living in strange times now because more and more people are thinking it as well.

Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World is a book that covers this subject extremely well. While I’m still in the process of reading it, I’d have to say that this book comes the closest to synchronizing with my years of thought and research on trying to change the way organizations work. Above all else though, it’s an amazing feeling to know that you’re not alone and others are out there thinking and pursuing the same visionary things that you are.

That said though, that’s when reality returns and slaps you in the face again. That’s because while this is my life’s work (there’s no question of it now), what frustrates me the most is that even though there are a diverse variety of books on this subject now, I’m still not really seeing a change in the way businesses work locally within my own city.

The solutions we need to move forward, to grow, and adapt are not technological innovations, they are social innovations.

Don’t get me wrong though. Vancouver is booming as a digital tech hub and the game development scene is still thriving even with some closures and layoffs earlier this year. But that’s not what I’m talking about. The solutions we need to move forward, to grow, and adapt are not technological innovations, they are social innovations. And for that to happen, we need to rethink the very behaviours, values, and beliefs of our organizations and of ourselves.

But that’s exactly why things aren’t changing. As I told someone else a while back, many business owners and managers would rather let their company die than give up their centralized command and control way of working because they’ve habitually become accustomed to it. In effect, even though it’s slowly killing their company like a cancer, it’s still feels comforting and risk averse to them, so they still stick with it, grandly naval gazing off into the distance as they sail off the edge of the Old World to their doom.

What we need now aren’t people playing it safe. What we need now are courageous explorers. That’s the type of people I’m looking for and the type of people I want to work with in helping to navigate and reach this New World. The obvious question though is does such a company of people like this exist within Vancouver? Or at the very least, are there companies that do want to be this socially innovative in Vancouver but just don’t know where to start in transforming themselves?

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