July 2012 Download this article as a PDF

From the Editor-in-Chief

Welcome to the July issue of the TIM Review. This month’s theme is Social Innovation and it is my pleasure to welcome our guest editor, Stephen Huddart, President and CEO of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, who has assembled a wonderful line-up of authors to share their experiences and insights in this issue.

This issue also includes a report on a recent TIM Lecture by Giovanni Pizzoferrato, Senior Manager, Technology Strategy TELUS, who spoke about the approach to innovation used by TELUS in developing products and services for the healthcare market.

In August, the theme is Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century, and then in September, Seppo Leminen, Principal Lecturer at the Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Finland, and Mika Westerlund, Assistant Professor at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business, are guest editors for an issue on Living Labs. If you would like to contribute an article to the August or September issues, please contact us immediately to discuss possible article topics related to these themes.

As always, we welcome your feedback, suggestions for future themes, and contributions of articles. We hope you enjoy this issue of the TIM Review and will share your comments on articles online. Please also feel free to contact us directly with feedback or article submissions.

Chris McPhee



From the Guest Editor

The theme of this issue is social innovation, as enabled by technology. With the advent of the Internet and the exponential growth in computing power, social entrepreneurs and communities have applied these capacities to expand human ability and to address problems previously beyond solving – from creating Wikipedia to mapping the human genome. 

The articles collected in this issue of TIM Review are representative of such work taking place today in Canada, but readers elsewhere will recognize similar patterns from their own countries. Indeed, one of the characteristics of technology-enabled social innovation is that it readily transcends boundaries – political, sectoral, and those between experts and citizens. In doing so, a source of new innovations is generated.

The first article examines the shift from social innovations to social innovation systems, which are designed to replace maladaptive institutions and obsolete policy frameworks with novel and disruptive means for improving outcomes. Continuous cycles of implementation and learning could be achieved if tools and processes for social innovation were made available to community organizations and their government and business partners. Finally, the article introduces Innoweave, a technology-enabled social innovation system for sharing the tools and processes of social innovation with the community sector, as an example of the type of system that can promote multi-sectoral participation and continuous social innovation around complex problems.

Next, Michael Lenczner, CEO and founder of Ajah, and Susan Phillips, Professor and Director of the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, describe the opportunities to use newly available digitized information to enhance decision making in the nonprofit sector, while highlighting the cultural shifts that are required to realize the full potential of these opportunities. Their article uses the Ajah online research tool as a case study to demonstrate how the systematic use of funding data, gathered from a multitude of online sources, can improve the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations.

Elisha Muskat, Executive Director of Ashoka Canada, and Delyse Sylvester, Director of Community at Ashoka Changemakers, describe how the Ashoka Changemakers.com online community creates a space for: investors to find and support multiple innovations; social innovators to find each other, work together, and source funds; and disruptive innovations to grow over time where disruptive change is needed. Their article provides examples of how an “Open Growth” approach supports the co-creation and evolution of innovative ideas and collaborative social entrepreneurship.

Seana Irvine, Evergreen’s Chief Operating Officer, provides a case study of Evergreen Brickworks, Canada’s first large-scale community environmental centre, which is also a venue for celebrating innovation in urban greening, with a focus on the role of ICT in enhancing communication, education, and action towards social change. Here, the transformation of a physical space, and the innovations subsequently layered upon it, provide a metaphor, a framework, and an organizational mindset for further social innovation by Evergreen, its partners, and the wider community across Canada.

Vickie Cammack, President and CEO, and Kerry Byrne, Director of Research, at Tyze Personal Networks, share experiences from their health and social venture, which uses technology to engage and inform individuals, their personal networks, and their care providers to co-create the best outcomes. They describe a shift from individual models of care to a network model of care, which recognizes that, to achieve the best outcomes, individuals require communication, problem solving, and collaboration amongst and between informal networks and formal care providers.

Jeeshan Chowdhury, co-founder of Hacking Health, reports on his early experiences with a “hackathon” approach to stimulating innovative solutions to front-line healthcare problems. Hacking Health brings together healthcare professionals and software developers to quickly create working prototypes of new applications. This approach to social innovation and entrepreneurship using information technology holds promise for improving the quality and sustainability of healthcare.    

In the last article, Anil Patel, Executive Director of Framework, describes the Platformation project, through which nonprofit organizations can identify sets of cloud-computing tools that will work well together and will help them function more effectively by increasing collaboration, transparency, and efficiency within their own organizations and with other, like-minded organizations. Platformation is motivated by “the sharing imperative” – a movement or tendency towards sharing information online and in real time, which is an important mechanism for social innovation.  

Since it is evident that the relationship between technology and society is co-evolutionary, we may discern the shape of things to come by looking at work being today. We hope that you enjoy this glimpse at technology-enabled social innovation's promise and potential.

Stephen Huddart
Guest Editor

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Keywords: charities, community sector, nonprofit, social entrepreneurship, social innovation