IssueLab’s Excellent Post on Innovation
Posted by Allison Fine on June 23, 2009
IssueLab posted a terrific piece today further assessing the design and intentions of the White House’s proposed Office of Social Innovation. They were riffing on my negative reaction to the Fund last month which received a lot of heat from the MBA crowd.
What I liked best about the post was the thinking about the intersection of innovation and legitimacy. Government, like many foundations, are loathe to be out on a limb testing new social programs and ideas. There is just too much heat that they’re going to take from a bevy of critics when they do so. Legitimacy includes all of the externality, all of the window dressing and norming and social acceptance that comes with being tried and true, and large and successful. Just the opposite of innovation in my opinion.
The post ends with these questions:
What are the equivalent measures in the sector for judging the legitimacy of organizations? Other funders, name recognition, buzz, scale, earned income revenue, the ability to measure results and impact? How many innovative startup projects and organizations can claim all these measures? And will they have access to either the Office of Social Innovation or to ever scarcer foundation funding?
These are exactly the right questions to ask. Now, where else are we going to have this discussion, do I hear a vote for a group pow-wow in the Rose Garden? Hope so, I’ll buy a new hat for that one!
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