Hivos International

Development, Impact & You (DIY)

Practical Tools to trigger and support Social Innovation

Toolkitting transformation – by Remko Berkhout & Josine Stremmelaar.

Our writing of this blog competed with our reading of Russel Shorto’s Amsterdam. Shorto’s analysis of the turbulent late 16th/17th Century is instructive for change agents struggling to transform contemporary societies. Early 17th Century Europe was in a state of chaos. Citizens, merchants and  politicians alike were gasping to make sense of fast changing times.  There was no theory of change, just a multitude of experiments driven by  a spirit of questioning and renewal in all domains of life.

We live in times of similar turbulence. Widespread sentiments of  multiple crises live side by side with excitement about unprecedented  opportunity.

What then, is the task for the fast emerging field of social innovation?

Roberto Unger recently suggested two perspectives. The minimalist perspective posits social innovation  as an effort to humanise the current global trajectory, without  questioning the politics and dynamics of its fundamental course. In a  recent Hivos think piece,  Alan Fowler goes one step further by suggesting that in minimalist  mode, the current hype around social innovation amounts to little more  than a false promise. The maximalist view posits social innovation as a  transformative movement and a catalyst for new experiments across  multiple domains and sectors of social life. 

We can apply these perspectives to the DIY Toolkit.

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