Innovation, Change, and Technology Strategies for Success as Social Entrepreneurs

How does social change happen? | Social Innovation Blog Series

Sarah Sharif (r), Founder and CEO of Experimental Civics based in Austin, Texas and Charlotte van Oostrum (l), freelance consultant and researcher in content strategy, design and management and Community Developer for Offcourse.io based in Rotterdam Area, The Netherlands met each other at SXSW 2017 and started to churn over this question.

Charlotte: “In the fall of 2017, I travelled to the Black Forest in Germany for a mini-holiday with my partner and dog. We stayed at a family run guest house in a cherry orchard. We hiked, visited waterfalls and ate Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte and spätzle. The forest was at its most beautiful this time of year — green, red, brown and yellow leaves decorated the skies everywhere you looked. And to our joy, almost every farm roof was covered in solar panels.

But while driving on the serpentine roads through the valleys of the region, we continuously ran into alarmingly yellow and red signs with big black letters saying “NEIN ZUM WINDPARK” (no to the wind park). “Why”, my partner at one point remarked, “are people always opposed to change?” “Because they’re people,” I said.”

Change, Innovation, and Time

Mostly, people resist change. Whether it is to have a windmill in their backyard to change desks at the office. Why is that? And why, on the other hand, is innovation often seen as cool and hip?

Maybe this is because change is painful. Change can be defined as “to cause to be different, to transform.” Change leads us away from what we know, and towards something that we don’t. Innovation can be defined as “the art of introducing something new.” While change takes place in the past and present, innovation seems invokes the future. In other words, innovation doesn’t happen in our backyard as we know it. It happens in the future, a future where there’s a blank slate waiting for us to start over and do things differently.

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