Social labs are...
a format designed to address complex problems like those captured in the Sustainable Development Goals. The approach brings together a diverse group of stakeholders to develop a portfolio of prototype solutions with systemic effect, test those solutions in the real world, use the data to further refine them, and test them again in a process of continuous iteration.
Social Labs address social challenges (= Quests) that are:
social: bringing together stakeholders from all sectors to represent diversity of perspectives is key,
experimental: by working with prototypes, persisting, and allowing space to fail and try again, we distinguish our methods 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.
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 will 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) and Intellectual (new knowledge and learning). The inspiration for this comes among others from Zaid Hassan’s “The Social Lab Revolution” and Otto Scharmer’s Theory U.