We’re creating the conditions to shift social safety nets into trampolines: supplying the data, teams, methods and solutions to shift stuck outcomes.
We function as a Research & Development shop with & for the social sector.
Why focus on R&D?
Canada’s social safety net is made up of 19K social service organizations. Money flows to service delivery. Services are held to account for how much they deliver. Without resources to continually develop alternatives, the safety net often entangles rather than enables change. And social innovation workshops, pilot projects, and change labs are inadequate responses. They do little to overcome the structural barriers to meaningful social reform.
Unlike in the private sector, where businesses typically spend 3-5% of their budgets on Research & Development, social sector organizations have no inbuilt function for inquiry and experimentation. So the ideas that emerge from workshops & pilot projects have nowhere to land. Innovation ends up happening off the side of people’s desk. Competition typically overrides the rhetoric of collaboration.
We know from research in the private sector that there’s at least four things required for R&D: (1) dynamic talent, (2) good data, (3) access to capital, and (4) multi-sectoral networks.
We work on all four. While we don’t have direct access to financial capital, we do find and leverage informal resources in our community, creating more human capital as we go.
We are confronting the 7 reasons the social sector stays the same:
- Workforce for caring — not innovating.
- Strong hierarchies.
- Compliance cultures.
- Accountabilities up — not down.
- Little perceived control & agency.
- Limited on-the-ground data.
- No remit or resources for Research & Development.