The new year is swiftly underway and with its first month nearly behind us, an interesting theme seems to be taking hold at the Innov8Social headquarters.
Adaptive persistence. The concept, described by entrepreneurs and leadership experts Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek in their book Life Entrepreneurs, describes a trait social innovators can develop in the face of adversity.
growing through concrete
What is adaptive persistence?
Adaptive persistence is applying flexibility and ingenuity to situations of resistance, rejection, and refusal—all common ends a new social innovator is likely to face.  Specifically Gergen and Vanourek describe it as “hanging in through adversity while creatively tailoring one’s approach the circumstances.”
How does adaptive persistence apply to social innovation?
Social innovation, at its essence, is about finding new connections between existing disciplines, subjects, and concepts. It’s about look at how business can create social impact. Or how a triple bottom line can be integrated in a company’s bookkeeping. It focuses on the entrepreneurial potential of maximizing impact of a non-profit beyond maximizing funding.
It looks at existing societal issues, environmental concerns, and proven solutions with fresh eyes and innovative intention.
All of that, however, is to say that social innovation is about trying, testing, and calculating leaps of faith to achieve new success. And along the way, a social innovator is nearly guaranteed to face some form of resistance–internal, external, and everything in between.
In those situations, the concept of adaptive persistence can provide a respite. It can be a recharging station. The choices are not only to keep doing or stop doing—adaptive persistence creates the option to refine, reframe, and recalibrate efforts continually and consistently so that small failures can be written off and released, making way for new incremental successes.
A new year of Innov8Social
2012 is shaping up to be a bold and interesting year for Innov8Social. While we have spent the past months dipping a toe in the social innovation sea, the new year brings new opportunities for furthering understanding, being able to discern grey areas of the field, and beginning to discriminate nuances of its practice.
You may notice sporadic posting in the early part of the year—the exploration is very much alive and occurring in offline avenues which will be reported on in due time.
As we use concepts like adaptive persistence to navigate the waters, we hope it can provide clarity and support to you in your social innovation exploration.

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    2 replies
    1. Christopher Gergen
      Christopher Gergen says:

      Thanks for sharing Neetal. The connection between adaptive persistence and social innovation is right on point. We need to continue to adapt and innovate to be able to create break-through solutions to very complex social challenges. The world abounds with great examples of this – which is heartening since we need to rapidly close the gap between the escalating nature of our social challenges and the innovative solutions needed to address them. Christopher Gergen

    2. neetal parekh
      neetal parekh says:

      Thanks for the comment Christopher. Really enjoyed reading your book, and working through exercises with other New Leaders Council Fellows. A few years after after writing your book, I am curious to hear how the life entrepreneurs stories outlined have further developed, changed course, etc. Thanks for reading!


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