Friday, June 3, 2011

Innovation Mistake?

"The $300 house will fail as a social initiative because the dynamic needs, interests and aspirations of the millions of people who live in places like Dharavi have been overlooked. This kind of mistake is all too common in the trendy field of social entrepreneurship."

Matias Echanove and Rahul Srivastava, "Hands Off Our Houses," The New York Times, June 1, 2011.

Understanding customer needs, assets, skills, and context seems like it would be a "no brainer" for any kind of business solution, social enterprise or otherwise. And I suspect customers will be different in different community and economic contexts. I think we've learned from this mistake before. Of course, other relevant mistakes include generalizing from one community to another and relying upon focus groups for market information. I mistake I observed in some jobs and workforce investments several years ago was that some organizations and enterprising people prefer innovation to results. But, sadly, they don't always go together.

1 comment:

Colin Austin said...

Ah results, that's the rub. Much more fun to just think of new ways of doing things. At the same time innovation does often beget useful mistakes, as long we consider them. There is also "good" innovation and "bad" innovation - I am looking at private for-profit colleges to see what can be learned. As far as student recruitment and retention (especially low-income) they certainly get results. But can advocates and the public system accept their practices?