President Obama has created a new White House Office on Social Innovation and Civic Participation. The idea behind the new office is for government to work with nonprofit organizations to identify programs that are successful in addressing the tough social issues facing communities – homelessness, unemployment, education, etc. The goal would be to expand those programs across the country. The office will subsidize those innovative ideas.
Professor Clayton Christensen wrote an insightful article about the office and the three things it must do to at least try to accomplish its goals. (Huffington Post, July 7, 2009)
1. Demonstrate a new way to solve social problems where government serves as an investor in innovations that are developed and identified by citizens outside of government.
2. Guide more social innovators towards "bottom-up" initiatives, in preference to "trickle-down" philanthropy.
3. Use the convening power of the White House to initiate a focus on impact and metrics.
Very interesting stuff and worth a read.
The full text of the article can be found here.