In this lesson we present guidelines for developing the different stages of a business model for sustainability and social innovation.
Stage 1: Generating ideas by understanding needs and identifying potential solutions
The first stage consists of identifying a need that has not been met and notions of how it could be met. Examples: hunger, homelessness, disease, the need for protection from domestic violence, or racism.
Stage 2 – Developing, prototyping and piloting ideas
Social innovations are often implemented early as those involved are either highly motivated or too impatient to wait for governments or third parties to act. Thus, during stage 2, the promising idea is tested in practice, which can be done through formal market research or desk analysis. Testing can be done in a sample of the intended audience.
Stage 3 – Assessing ideas then scaling up and diffusing the good ones
The third stage starts when an idea shows promising after being proven itself in practice. The idea can then grow, replicate, adapt or be franchised.
Innovations commonly spread in an ‘s curve’, with an early phase of slow growth amongst a small group of committed supporters, then a phase of rapid take-off, and then a slowing down as saturation and maturity are achieved.
Therefore taking a good idea to scale requires skilful strategy and coherent vision, combined with the ability to marshal resources and support and identify the key points of leverage
Stage 4 – Learning and evolving
This stage turns the ideas into forms that may be very different from the expectations of the pioneers as experience may show unintended consequences, or unexpected applications.