We understand Social Labs as a process inspired by Zaid Hassans understanding of Social Laboratories that follows the U-journey after MIT’s Theory U and integrates diverse methods, tools, practices along the way (check out our toolbox). It’s a format designed to address complex problems like those addressed in the Sustainable Development Goals. Solutions coming out of this process are meant to tackle the root causes of a challenge and have systemic impact, rather than fight symptoms.
Social Labs are platforms for addressing social challenges that are:
Social: bringing together stakeholders from all sectors to represent a diversity of perspectives is key
Experimental: working with prototyping and sustained efforts with the right to fail and try again distinguishes them from a project-based approach
Systemic: the solutions that come out of it are meant to tackle the root causes of the challenge and have systemic impact, rather than fight the symptoms.
A Social Lab is:
Is anchored in a quest (challenge), a topic of systemic relevance.
Brings together a diversity of people that are stakeholders from all sectors or in other ways have things to offer, around a shared intention or guiding question.
Is a space and time to create an in-depth, wholistic (body, mind, soul) understanding of the root-causes and hold space for realignment.
Opens room for individual (challenging beliefs, breaking habits, learn new ways of being) as well as collective transformation (becoming present together, surface collective knowledge).
Allows for experimentation, prototyping and fast learning cycles, opening space to fail and try again. Where we cultivate the ability of not knowing and hold the question, allowing things to emerge.
A space to train together how to become and be a conscious living system; a learning, sharing cycling organism.
Has prototype solutions as an outcome. These go through a continuous iteration of testing in the real world, collecting data for further refinement and testing again.
new services, infrastructure, prototyped solutions
new knowledge & learning
trust & collaboration
new capacities & skills
Though the concrete results will remain uncertain - following the principle of emergence - Social Labs generate a minimum of four sets of outputs:
Physical: new services or infrastructure, such as the prototyped solutions
Human: new capacities and skills
Social: increased trust and collaboration
Intellectual: new knowledge and awareness