Dip into Resilience

As you learn more about the process and dynamics of social innovation, you realize that the big goal is not necessarily to get to the ultimate solution to a problem. While we do definitely want to see positive change occur on our most pressing problems, a long-term goal is to work to enhance the overall state of any system so that it has capacity to continually learn, adapt and transform present and future challenges.

As we think about social innovation particularly, resilience theory also encourages us at times to pay attention to how the resilience of a system can be inhibiting the conditions for the kind of large scale change that we believe is needed. It is the kind of resilience that sees a system maintain itself despite having a cumulatively negative impact on the environment or society. In the Adaptive Cycle we might see these systems trapped in the conservation stage – unwilling or perhaps unable to release the resources necessary for positive transformation. When an innovator looks at a system in this state, he or she is looking for specific points of weakness or windows of opportunity to try and push that system into a new set of circumstances.

Look through this powerpoint to get an introductory understanding of resilience as a theory and lens for social innovation.

In the Dive section you can watch a comprehensive webinar by Frances Westley that goes into these concepts further. 

The next report looks at the motivation, development and outcomes associated with a unique collaboration between a group of regional funders. Together, they launched the Waterloo Region Resiliency Initiative (RI) in late 2009 to enhance the resiliency of the nonprofit sector through new forms of collaboration, capacity building, and innovation. This ground breaking initiative aimed to support transformational change within and across organizations as a means of strengthening the sector’s capacity to weather economic changes and increase effectiveness.

From a regional initiative to a national funding organization who decided to reframe their funding processes using a resilience lens. Tim Brodhead’s paper below reveals why the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation decided to focus on building Canadian resilience and the impact that had on the programs they support.