In the civil society sector, it can sometimes feel like we are running just to stand still. Changes are going on around us all the time, and faster than ever before. That’s why having the people and ideas to harness those changes is crucial. Those people are called innovators. They work tirelessly to employ changes for the benefit of others, strive to break the mold and create what has never existed before. It’s as challenging as it sounds.
At the International Civil Society Centre we are lucky enough to have gathered the thoughts and experiences of several innovators at the top of their game and the forefront of their sectors. Here we present blogs from those innovators from; CIVICUS, Keystone Accountability, Save the Children, Feedback Labs, Good4Trust, Disberse, The International Civil Society Centre and UNICEF.
Togetherness Against the Riptide of Restrictions – 2 May
Ellie Stephens, Communications Officer, CIVICUS Alliance & Katie Mattern, Communications Officer, CIVICUS Alliance
“At Innovation for Change, we have reached out to activists and organisations working in some of today’s most restricted spaces and, with this core group of incubators, we are working hard to co-create a better world together. Throughout this process, we have had to ask ourselves the difficult questions: What if we did make time to ask the person next to us what they’re doing? What if we find out that not only is that person doing similar work, but together we can relieve some of the challenges of time and resourcing? That is what we have discovered at Innovation for Change, and it’s not revolutionary. It has been remarkable that the most powerful connections in our work are the ones we’ve most overlooked because they were just too simple”.
Storytelling as a Tool for Change – 9 May
Marc Maxmeister, Chief Innovator, Keystone Accountability
“Going “human” as a leader is accepting the unpredictability of outcomes when you truly listen to people and let them decide what is going to happen. Understanding science leaves me comfortable with complexity. The only solution to global problems is to embrace and accelerate the process of evolution within a community context, and rapidly explore different ways to share wealth and decision-making power, as I’ve explained on my blog. Evolution is a mechanism that transforms bad ideas into better ones, weak approaches for behavior change into stronger ones, and it can even better align our actions with our personal moral code. If religious texts are in agreement on one thing, it is that we are not going to save the world without undergoing the disruptive process of changing ourselves”.
Disrupt & Innovate – Breakthroughs for Children – 16 May
Kimberly Coletti, Senior Director of Innovation, Save the Children US
“Save the Children’s greatest value is our unique ability to bring innovations to scale, thanks to our combination of pioneering ideas and a century worth of experience, global partnerships, and presence in 120 countries around the world. Innovation continues to be a driver in everything we do and is a key component in our Theory of Change, where we are charged to ‘be the innovator’ and develop and prove evidence-based, replicable breakthrough solutions to the problems children are facing”.
Three Simple Questions – 23 May
Megan Campbell, Manager of Research and Learning, Feedback Labs
“What do people want to make their lives better? Are we helping them get it? If not, what should we be doing differently?
These are simple questions. Sometimes, we mistake them as trivial or think that we already know the answers. When I led a water and sanitation programme in Malawi I believed that people in Malawi needed clean water. I believed I could help them get it by helping local governments build their capacity to construct and repair water infrastructure. I saw plenty of evidence that what I was offering matched what was needed and wanted. I knew about confirmation bias, knew that communities and local government officials were likely to praise my programme rather than risk losing free support, but I believed that I had strong enough relationships to be hearing the truth”.
Disruption in the economy? Listen in, or better pitch in! – 30 May
Uygar Ozesmi, Founder & Instigator, Good4Trust
“Imagine a future where we as humans live in harmony with nature and ourselves. Would you think of this as utopian? It may be so… but is that not what we strive for in social movements and in civil society organisations? So how do we go about it? What we have chosen to work on is a new economic paradigm”.
Stop Killing Innovation – 6 June
Duncan Cook, Group CEO, 3 Sided Cube
“Running an agency means that you get the great privilege of working with a variety of organisations. The closeness of these relationships mean that you often get an insight into their innermost workings, and you’re able to see how they operate — the good, the bad and, unfortunately, the ugly”.
Get on the Blockchain or Get Left Behind – 13 June
Flora Kwong, Finance Manager, International Civil Society Centre & Ben Joakim, CEO and Co-Founder, Disberse
“Blockchain—it’s a term we often see in newsfeeds and articles but perhaps don’t really understand. We are however supposed to know that, despite its original incarnation as the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, it’s now the hottest technological innovation relevant to all industries and sectors—including the civil society sector”.
Cynthia McCaffrey, Director of the Office of Global Innovation, UNICEF, James Powell, Global U-Report Lead, UNICEF & Brooke Yamakoshi, WASH Specialist, UNICEF
“Here is an innovation…..what if we listened to them…..to young people? Many are not expecting us to listen, but they are the ones in school. They are the ones preparing for future employment and starting families.
UNICEF tried just this: engaging and listening to young people in real time in 2011. Under the leadership of Dr. Sharad Sapra, UNICEF’s Uganda office developed and tested U-Report, an SMS tool enabling them to share their views on issues confronting them. Now available on Facebook, Twitter and Viber messengers the U-Report members, or ‘U-Reporters’, can respond to polls and submit questions to experts on a range of issues”.