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On Friday 23rd February 2018, the Melbourne Lean in Chapter hosted it’s first event of the year.

The event focused on “Social Impact and Social Innovation”. Social problems are complex and require navigation across multiple sectors. We collaborated with the brightest minds from the not-for-profit, government, academic and corporate sectors to discuss how to create positive change in the world.

Our excellent speakers and panel for the evening included:

1.    Sam Hannah-RankinDirector of Public Sector Innovation at The Department of Premier and Cabinet (Vic)

2.    Jane FarmerDirector of The Social Innovation Research Institute at SwinburneUniversity

3. Peter McNamara, General Manager of Good Shepherd Microfinance

4. Corinne ProskeGeneral Manager of Digital and Retail at Good Shepherd Microfinance

The common message from all of the speakers was that there is an opportunity for public, private and not-for-profit sectors to engage much more proactively to create genuinely self- sustainable models that create social change on the ground and are also commercial.

Top 5 takeaways from this fascinating discussion:

1.    What is Social Impact and Social Innovation? How do we achieve it?

Social impact is doing good things for a social purpose. Social Innovation is doing disruptive, surprising and intriguing things to create change which creates value. It may not be leading edge innovation but it has space for it and it’s more inclusive.

To create social impact you need to understand who are you trying to help, who your audience is, their skill-set and what you are building for them.

You need to constantly think about your role and can’t be tempted by the money and bright lights. 

2.    How can corporate work with academia, NFP or government to create a social impact?

Making money and doing good can happen hand in hand. Making money and doing good are not always separateWhen the two goals are combined opportunities to bring private and public sector together open up significantly.

e.g. NAB has funded Good Shepherd’s Speckle. Speckle offers a brighter alternative when you need a small loan for life’s expenses (without the hidden costs).

The common component here is if young people get in to debt, they will struggle to access finance and mortgages in the future. By providing access to finance, crime, and mental health issues can also be reduced.

3.    How do we institutionalise the innovation at public sector?

The opportunity is to give people space to connect and make things visible so they don’t feel that they are fighting the world by themselves. We have pockets where people are doing amazing things but we don’t talk about them or we don’t connect them. Providing space to connect can help build momentum.

 4.    There are a lot of institutions working in silos for their own ambitions. There is honour and pride, selfishness and ego associated. How do you take that institutionalised sense of purpose built in to those organsiations and then neutralise is to get people to work with other people?

It’s a very complex process to change. Creating a neutral place where morally motivated participants can come together is important. This is quite a sophisticated engagement approach. It requires everyone to let go of their personal baggage and identity to prove they are worth being in the room. It’s very difficult because it requires people to give up their identity as an academics, policy makers or working for not-for-profit.

Using new methodologies like co-design to bring a broader cross section of people together can be helpful.

Code switch and bridge to bring people together from corporate, community and government . Government talks about policy, corporates talk about profit, not-for-profits talks about people. Connecting sectors which talk different languages is the key to success. Otherwise we miss opportunities by not listening to each other and not knowing our role.

5.    How do we help an aging population or rural communities with little access to technology?

Socially disadvantaged people, people in rural area and aging populations are digitally excluded. There needs to be greater peer support activity. Initiatives like Telstra’s digital inclusion program are helping an aging population learn digital skills.

There is a digital divide. Those excluded financially are the same people excluded digitally. This is a large population group being left behind. Approximately 3 million people are financially excluded and almost the same number are digitally excluded.

Understanding the communities is the essential thing. Some communities are more resilient than others. Those who have difficulty finding solution for themselves need support.

If you are interested in networking events and discussing matters important to women then join our group here : Melbourne Lean In Circle

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