Innovation Outside the Lab Banner (1080 × 200 px)

Recently, the government of Alberta announced recipients of the province’s Civil Society Fund. The funded projects will help vulnerable Albertans and contribute to the province’s social and economic recovery. Sagesse’s Innovation Outside the Lab Project is one of the successful applications.

We sat down with Sagesse’s Director of Innovation and Programs, Carrie McManus, to find out more.

What is Innovation Outside the Lab all about?

I know it sounds rich coming from someone who has innovation in their title, but innovation needs to be more than a job for one person, it needs to be a framework for everyone.

The Innovation Outside the Lab project is about supporting organizations in the civil society to create frameworks for innovation in all parts of what they do, allowing us to challenge the status quo and create new and unique opportunities for social change.

Through this initiative we will aim to shift thinking in the sector to investment in and engagement with entrepreneurship and innovation as a mindset and the cornerstone of everyday practice, perspectives and thinking. This initiative will build capacity of staff within organizations to engage in new practices and initiatives while also building organizational ability and models to ensure that innovation lives on within the sector long into the future.

Where did the idea from the project come from?

Sagesse has been working from a foundation of innovation for many years. This has impacted the opportunities we pursue, the work we do with organizations, communities and individuals, and our own understanding of the social issues we are working to address. This work also inspired a desire to work collaboratively with other civil society organizations to create the same type of innovation framework, and work towards large-scale social change.

While innovation labs have popped up across the sector as a means of growing new opportunities, these often happen in safe, isolated environments and with individuals and organizations who are already invested in the benefit of innovation and disruption of the status quo.

The Innovation Outside the Lab initiative leverages the learning and model of innovation labs and expands to include a structure and process that engages diverse individuals along the spectrum of discomfort to desire to engage in innovation. It also engages individuals from a wide variety of sector and professional backgrounds.

Why is it important?

What could be more important than ensuring everyone has the chance to have a healthy, happy life? Innovation in the civil society sector is crucial to find solutions to the most intractable societal problems, like domestic abuse. We have learned many things over the past 40 years, but people are still being harmed. We can’t keep doing the same things over and over and expect anything to change. The status quo is unacceptable both in terms of the human cost, and the misuse of resources.

Innovation Outside the Lab will invite organizations within the civil society sector of Alberta to engage new models for preventing and addressing social challenges and delivering programs. Participants will support transformation within their organizations, with the goal of creating new ideas for how to address long-standing social issues. Albertans at large will benefit from this work through improved opportunities for addressing social issues personally, within their communities and through their friends, family and social support networks.

How will it work?

We are partnering with New York University’s Institute for Impact and Intrapreneurship and its founder, Dr. Nir Tsuk, to engage a diverse cross-section of civil society representatives in experiential learning and collective engagement within an innovation framework. Participants will be identified from across sectors (social services, academia, media and arts, faith, government and policy) and placed into two cohorts of up to 30 people.

Under Dr. Tsuk’s direction and leadership, cohorts will engage in a journey of discovery, capacity and comfort building and exploration of innovation theories, methodologies and techniques that they can apply within their work.

Content will focus on both individual engagement in innovation as well as how to support organizations to create intrapreneurial resources and frameworks to guide their strategic goals and outcomes.

What’s next? How can we get involved?

Sagesse’s Innovation Team will be working on creating an expression of interest form to share amongst the civil society sector to create our cohorts. If you are interested in being part of the cohorts, please look for that on our website in Q3 or let us know

We will be continuing to write about this project and our experiences, finding ways to share our innovative content and thoughts with people across the world as we all move towards eradicating domestic abuse.