En route to Explore and Experiment

February 21, 2017

Innoweave and MaRS Solutions Lab have kicked off the Explore and Experiment Workshop Series to support groups across Canada in using experimental approaches to address complex social challenges. Since the series started on January 25 groups have been working on understanding the underlying complexity of their challenge, as well as the variety of tools, methods and shifts in their thinking needed to conduct a successful lab or experimentation approach.

This month, we are pleased to highlight how one group has begun to explore how to use their lab approach.

Step 1: Define a solid working hypothesis

The Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre‘s (WOCRC) mission is to partner with others to develop, provide and coordinate accessible community, health and social services for all members of their diverse communities. They joined the Explore and Experiment Workshop Series to learn about social innovation lab approaches and tools that could help them generate solutions. They have identified that harm in relationships in rural communities is a very complex challenge and addressing it differently, with a new set of approaches, could probably help them and their key local partners unlock some of the systemic causes that lead to harm in relationships in rural settings. A core group of dedicated WOCRC employees has chosen to meet every other week in the workshop series to learn about how a lab approach could help them address their issue in an effective way.

To understand the depth and complexity of this issue, they began working on a theory of change – a foundational piece for all work leading to a systemic change. They were curious to know if their theory of change should only focus on what they can commit to achieving, knowing that their group could probably not take responsibility for solving the entire problem. This question led to their realization that a clear hypothesis can help engage other stakeholders that could take part in a larger strategy and share accountability in tackling the issue. These stakeholders may also opt to take part in prototyping different solutions that could help generate a significant change. After only two weeks in the program (which will extend for another 18 weeks), the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre has already aligned some of the key components that will enable powerful conversations.

We look forward to learning more about their progress as the series continues!