When 10×10=1,000,000 — 4 Examples of Coupling Social and Technical Innovation

People continuously develop amazing technical innovations: urban agriculture; CRISPR; drones, blockchain; electric cars; work on Mars; language translation.  On all fronts, technology is bringing more abundant solutions.  On a scale of 1 to 10, these technical innovations are 10s.

People also continuously come up with social innovations: crowdsourcing; online platforms; sociocracy; hubs;; sacred hospitality; innovation labs; global action networks.  People are experimenting everywhere with ways to interact more abundantly.  On a scale of 1 to 10, these social innovations are 10s.

While these technical innovations and these social innovations are 10s, bringing 10X impacts to the problems they address, they are small compared to the 1,000,000X solutions people are finding when they combine the two: technical and social innovations.  Something very interesting is happening in this space where people are coupling technical and social innovation.  As part of the Global Initiative to Map Ecosynomic Deviance and Impact Resilience, we are very exited about these coupled innovations, finding more of them, and learning with them about what they are doing.  Here are four cases we have found.

  1. Innovation Ecosystems in Mexican Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency.  Technical innovations in energy and finance.  Social innovations in connecting innovation ecosystems.
    • Equitable engagement of the natural and social capital of rural indigenous communities in Mexico with global financial, social, and environmental metrics, and intellectual capital leads to: (1) large-scale carbon emission reduction through renewable energy and energy efficiency; (2) equitable access to energy efficiency and renewable energy; and (3) locally generated economic wealth.
    • See the documentary of this initiative that engaged 286 university professors and researchers from rural universities and local indigenous communities throughout Mexico, leading to 93 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
  2. Fostering Local Wellbeing in South Africa.  Technical innovations in complementary currencies and youth video documentaries.  Social innovations in building local capacity to develop an evolving collective narrative through youth ambassadors and videography, coupled with locally controlled complementary currencies to fund local wellbeing.
    • A two-year long, University of Cape Town African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) research project that took place in two South African municipalities – the Greater Kokstad Municipality in KwaZuluNatal, and the Bergrivier Municipality in the Western Cape, from August 2014 – September 2016. The project engaged out-of-work, out-of-school local youth – the FLOW Ambassadors – to build both individual and community capacity to thrive and innovate in the face of the growing challenges of climate change, resource depletion and inequality.
    • See many of the videos describing this journey in two townships.
  3. Global Anti-Corruption Coalition.  Technical innovations in measuring corruption and in national anti-corruption, pro-transparency policies.  Social innovations in interweaving global policy and attention with local action, across 120 countries, giving a voice to the people seeing corruption and to those affected by corruption.
    • Fighting corruption around the world since 1993.  “We’ve fought to put in place binding global conventions against corruption. We’ve held governments and companies to account, exposing the corrupt and dodgy deals (saving more than US$2 billion in the Czech Republic alone). We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people to take a stand” (https://www.transparency.org/impact).
    • See an Impact Report describing many examples of how people are changing the global discourse and outcomes around corruption, one place at a time.
  4. Portable Solar-Powered Stoves.  Technical innovations in light-weight, solar-powered cookers.  Social innovations in giving free-energy, portable cooking to the global poor, in dozens of countries.
    • Saving lives from indoor toxic smoke from stoves with solar-powered, portable stoves that cost nothing in fuel to run.
    • See videos about the innovations.

Four examples of massively impactful interventions, coupling technical and social innovations to have a much larger impact, orders of magnitude larger.  These technical-AND-social innovators are discovering that either innovation alone–only technical or only social–is not enough.  Coming up with a great technical innovation that stays within the previous social form tends to have only local and limited success in transformative impact resilience.   Likewise, a social innovation in how people interact with the same technology also tends towards the 10X impacts: far less than the impact resilience available when there is an innovation in the what, who, how, why, when, and where–in the technical and the social dimensions.  Innovations where 10X x 10X can equal 1,000,000X.

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