Community problem solving through technology-aided social forums

Good advice about structuring social innovation from Beth Kanter’s interview of Minnesota Open Idea:

They developed a state-of-the art idea challenge web site. They married an online social good contest with civic engagement (raising $14M online in 24 hours!). They had hundreds of people exercising on the field at a Twins Baseball game and the contest finalists throwing out the first pitch. The finalists also appeared on the state’s premier public affairs show in an “American Idol” style session to showcase their ideas.

Q: How does your innovation challenge connect with your theory of change?

Our intent is that building this high-tech “civic infrastructure” will improve the functioning of our entire sector. For MN Idea Open, it is infrastructure to support community problem solving and our hope is that providing an easy to use platform will increase the frequency with which decision makers in Minnesota engage large numbers of citizens on issues and, in turn, increase civic engagement and improve the quality of decisions.

Our Theory of Change is

(1) making issue education fun can dramatically increase public engagement on a topic

(2) framing issues in terms of what people can do about it will make more people internalize that “the problem is us” and encourage them to take action rather than just admiring the problem.

Marc: Can you guess what the specific issue was here? It shows the method is applicable to any social issue. Read whole story.

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