Social Innovation Laboratory: Collaborative Process For Finding Solutions To Complex Social Problems

LABIS - Institut du Nouveau Monde,

Year: 2013

For supplying and for accompanying organizations, governments and communities, the Institute du Nouveau Monde has developed a laboratory of social innovation (LABIS). The LABIS is a collaborative process to find solutions for complex social problems

LABIS model

The LABIS concept involves the integration of specific expertise stemming from three distinctive academic traditions: group
dynamics, complex system theories, and design thinking. The intersection of these traditions offers a rich conceptual basis
for the development of novel solutions to intractable problems arising from contexts where the social and ecological problems
are complex. An innovation laboratory uses a process that gathers together various stakeholders to develop a common understanding of a problem for which participants can design new innovative solutions.

Social Innovation Laboratory features

  • Promotes a collective approach and horizontal structure
  • Inclined to be dynamic
  • Focuses on a multidisciplinary team
  • Is open to failures as a source of learning
  • Is user-centric
  • Favours social change outcomes
  • Intellectual property is shared among participants
  • Is based on an iterative and organic process
  • Success is conditional upon the aspirations and desires of users and beneficiaries

Roles of LABIS actors

The INM’s role in LABIS is to design the approach, ensure ongoing support, lead workshops and offer developmental evaluation throughout the process. To start a LABIS project, one of the stakeholders must be invested as a leader and convince other system players to join. In an initial phase, there should be a minimum of eight to ten stakeholders. The group can then expand to reach an optimum number of between twenty and thirty participants.The stakeholders’ role is two dimensional:

  1. Becoming unequivocally involved in solving a clearly identified complex problem. LABIS is a process that yields results but raises a good number of challenges, including the choice of participants. It is important to favour actors who have a degree of influence and real capacity for action that will lead to change.
  2. Investing the required time and financial resources in the initiative undertaken. For the process to advance, an involvement of eight to ten days a year is required on the part of participants. In addition, a financial contribution from participants, each according to their ability, is necessary to ensure the viability of the process.

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