Collaboration to Innovation
“We will get through the crisis together” is the phrase heard (or even seen) very often during the flood crisis. Now the mass of water subsided, but a lot of problems—conflicts, inequality, and others that are deeply rooted in Thailand--are still intact; they have not come and gone like the flood. In fact, some are prolonged and getting more complicated because of the changeable and more complex society. Although I cannot decide for sure which or both reasons cause problems, one thing I am certain is that the solutions to those problems cannot be worked out by a person or an organization alone. The collaboration from different sectors and the gathering of knowledge and expertise from experts in various fields are the key that lead us through the crisis together.
The idea to build collaboration is not a new thing, especially the idea to create innovation from ‘co-design’ which is widely used in many fields. Co-design opens for those with different professions and diverse social background to design and share ideas. It is a channel for creativity and new innovations that might change the world. One example of an organization that officially adopts the concept to its social innovation designing is IDEO (http://www.ideo.com)-a well-known global design firm and a consulting company for innovation designing. Their scope of work is not limited to product, brand, or business designing, but includes innovative designs to solve social problem. Moreover, it owns a website http://www.openideo.com/which allows everyone to participate in designing innovations or find social solutions. Currently, the website has more than 20,000 members worldwide, who are eager to bring about new ideas to solve social problems assigned.
However, OPEN IDEOis only an example of one type of cooperation. Having only free space online for discussing and sharing ideas is, I believe, unable to replace meeting in person. Another idea that should gain attention is to build a Co-working Space or a shared working area. At a superficial level, Co-working Space seems like a place where new entrepreneurs can rent at low cost; instead of renting a whole office, the renter can only pay fees for using the work place and for office equipment such as a copy machine and share costs with other renters. But when you think thoroughly, the value of Co-working Space is not only an economical cost, but also an opportunity for networking. Co-working Space gives creative minds a chance to work at the same place so they can discuss, share ideas, and mutually inspired. It is truly a place that gathers different types of human resources together. Although the chance to exchange ideas is not as various as in the on-line forum, the off-line interaction is more profound and tangible, paving the way to a partnership formation between members who have the same interest or ideas and eventually lead to the creation of new innovations or remarkable projects.
The most successful and well-received example of a Co-working Space for social entrepreneurs isThe HUB (http://the-HUB.net/index.html). The HUB believes that the most valuable resource for men are ideas, but at present there are not many places where men can work on their ideas and turn them into reality. It also believes that the important things for organizations or those who work in innovative circles is the ability to access needed resources, connection, experience, knowledge, and capital. Therefore, The HUB was built as a passage to those factors. Members can join and build their own networks, exchange ideas, share experience and knowledge, and support one another. This includes the opportunity to meet social investors who regularly join and search for new interesting ideas or projects.
At present, The HUB has branches in 27 cities around the world in 5 continents and connects more than 4000 social entrepreneursand experts in different fields. The achievement of the HUB is a concrete proof that it is important for social innovators to meet and exchange with various professionals in order to create new innovations. A shared working environment or Co-working Space like the HUB is ideal for them. Metaphorically, it is a box with different tools and raw materials. Once they are used properly, the ultimate result is ‘social innovations’—a high potential equipment to solve or alleviate complex social problems. In other words, to create a space for social investors is to open the new door of opportunity that would sustainably get all of us through the crisis together.
- 26 april 2012
- 0 Comment