Though Innov8Social is entirely dedicated to exploring social innovation, after reading a few posts you still may find yourself asking, “so, what exactly is social innovation again?”
“Social” Typecasting
And you wouldn’t be alone—in the social media-wired world you say the word “social” and many people immediately begin thinking the trifecta: Facebook, Twitter, and everything else (Google+, LinkedIn, etc.)
While online networking capabilities can play a major role in enabling social innovation—the “social” in social innovation is more related to public good or public benefit.
Stanford Professor Rob Reich Explains Social Innovation
If you have about a half hour, the clip below can answer many of your questions, provide a framework to understand social innovation, and introduce you to roses and thorns of the field.
The address is by Director of Program on Ethics in Society at Stanford University, Rob Reich made to 2011 Stanford graduates at Stanford Class Day Lecture on June 11, 2011.
Watch below and read further below for an overview of some of the topics raised.


Key Points from Professor Reich’s Talk:

  • The new social economy seeks to produce social benefits
  • Buzzwords: social entrepreneurship, social innovation, impact investing, venture philanthropy, social enterprise
  • Traditional balance of 3-sector society: government sector, business sector, social/philanthropic sector
  • Today, the boundaries between the sectors are blurring
  • Now, social innovators seek to deliver social benefits within each sector and across sectors
  • Social innovation in business: microfinance, corporate social responsibility, creative capitalism, socially responsible investing
  • Social innovation in non-profit: importance of business strategy, increased focus on measurable social impact (i.e. charitable return on investment/donation), new corporate/legal forms
  • Social innovation in government: White House Office of Social Innovation, partnerships between foundations and U.S. government (Investment in Innovation Fund–I3), Chief Technology Officer and Open Government Initiative
  • Perils of new social economy: 21st century warfare is asymmetrical warfare (nation state vs. non-state actor….i.e. war on terror), unchecked innovation in financial sector contributed to 2008 financial meltdown, 21st century innovation is happening in 20th century framework of policy
  • Concerns: there is inherent tension between for-profit pursuit and social mission, current legislation and structure for non-profits has not been updated since 1969, some forms of social impact are difficult or impossible to measure

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