When you’re addressing intractable social issues, status quo solutions just aren’t cutting it. Recently, civil society leaders gathered at the Innovation Outside the Lab Summit (IOL) to discuss innovation as a pathway to societal change. Read on below for a shortlist of the many takeaways from IOL.

1. Start with “yes”, “and” and “both”
It seems like innovators have a lot in common with improvisors in seeing the value of saving space for “yes and”. When your engagement in new ideas is guided by these words, it leaves room for holding multiple truths, welcoming complexity, and avoiding false dichotomies. It also allows for identifying blind spots, what we are missing, and what we haven’t thought about yet.

2. Celebrate “failure”
We may be used to thinking of failure as an F on a report card, ripe with shame and stigma. Instead, IOL participants see failures as golden opportunities to learn and evolve. One IOL participant used a Failure Report to articulate and celebrate the things that were tried, didn’t work and learned from. Inspired by an IOL speaker, IOL included “F*ck Up Nights”, where participants shared their “mistakes” and the benefits of the learnings that came from them. So, fail, fail again, and keep going.

3. Incorporate the language of innovation into the everyday
Innovation shouldn’t be something done over there, by someone else – it should be an everyday function in all parts of an organization.  

4. Innovation is different for everyone, and every organization
There isn’t just one innovation model, practice or pathway. Find out what works for you, your role, and your organization. While it may not be in everyone’s job description, an innovation culture requires the participation of all parts of an organization.

5. Innovation is HARD
With the end of the IOL Summit, we have everything figured out, right? Wrong. Embedding innovation in civil society requires big cultural changes, while juggling clients, programs and everyday operations. Holding space for innovation is a struggle.

6. Innovation embraces evolution
Already embedded innovation in your culture? Kudos. The way you innovate will change. The way your Board, your staff and you engage with innovation should look completely different two years from now. With that in mind, you can expect to hear more from Sagesse about engaging with innovation!