Just a few random thoughts on reading Seeds of Innovation.
1. Vertical integration - Companies try to control other companies that comprise supply, distribution, and sales channels for the company. Nonprofits really don’t absorb others but the basic concept seems useful - team up to coordinate efforts at all stages of addressing a social problem. The example of homelessness came to mind. The descent into homelessness sometimes get interrupted by social service nonprofits. Other nonprofits provide services to the homeless. Some nonprofits try to help people transition successfully from homelessness to a home and stable job. The nonprofits in question are all trying to do something about homelessness, just at different phases of the person’s experience.
2. Skunk works - Aerospace giant Lockheed (now Lockheed-Martin I think) developed a couple of spy planes in a dedicated research and development unit that existed apart from the organization’s normal structure. Maybe nonprofits - I’m thinking or really big organizations or networks here - could establish skunk works to develop revolutionary new programs or technologies.
3. Suggestion boxes - Generic suggestion programs are generally a waste of time and resources. Focus a suggestion program on a certain campaign or event and solicit ideas relevant to that target.
4. External collaboration - Nonprofits work together, but they might need to spend time working with “customers,” business owners, teachers, local officials, or other stakeholders. The point is to work with people who can help, hinder, or benefit from an innovation to get their input on what innovations would work.
Many of the concepts could be used in a nonprofit or an activist group. Seeds was written with business people in mind, but the language of profit, customers, and marketing that she uses should be easily translatable.