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Explore and Experiment

Understand, design and prototype potential solutions to complex societal issues


How can we experiment with new approaches to address complex issues?

Social innovation labs, prototyping, participative processes, living labs, design thinking, user research. This vocabulary has gained in popularity in recent years among organizations looking to implement best practices. While implementing such strategies does promise strong results, several conditions must be met for organizations to reap the full benefits.

Organizations must understand two important things to ensure successful experimentation: which processes to put into place and their logical sequence, and how to conduct such experiments and learn from them as they are deployed.

To conduct these experiments, project leaders and their teams and organizations must demonstrate continuous learning, question the status quo, name their assumptions, be able to start conversations with the right people at the right times, etc.

Living Guide to Social Innovation Labs

Innoweave partnered with MaRS Solutions Lab to create the Living Guide to Social Innovation Labs. It’s a living compilation of social innovation tools, templates and guidance to help social innovation practitioners tackle the intractable problems of our time. It’s intended for anyone looking for a fresh set of social innovation tools, with a focus on the lab approach, as one of many ways to address complex problems.

Learn more

Support offered in the Explore and Experiment coaching stream

The purpose of Innoweave’s Explore and Experiment stream is to clarify what the experimentation process enables the organization to do and the related conditions for success, in particular for nonprofits and charitable organizations seeking to put these approaches into practice.

The following topics are broached in a series of workshops that shed light on key concepts and enable participants to see how well an approach is suited to an organization’s needs and its capacity to use:

  • Different types of experimentation labs
  • A systemic approach and a complex or “wicked” problem
  • User research and user centered design
  • Prototyping and fast iterations
  • The need or lack thereof for a consensus

The Innoweave self-assessment tool is designed to help you determine your organization's readiness and whether your initiative or program model is well suited for Explore and Experiment.


This assessment has 5 questions.

Please respond to each of the questions to the best of your ability by choosing the option that most accurately reflects your organizational context.

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Do you have a challenge in mind for which you’d like to use an experimentation approach (e.g., a social innovation lab)?
What can you say about the challenge that you are facing?
Which statement best describes your approach to solving the challenge?
Who are you willing/seeking to work with to address this core challenge?
How willing are you and what level of resources are you prepared to commit to taking part in the workshops, and ultimately to solving the challenge?

Impact Accelerator

We encourage all organizations to attend or view a pre-recorded Impact Accelerator before further exploring a coaching stream.

Upcoming Accelerators

Info Sessions & Workshops

    No upcoming events.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? We might have more events in French. Or, contact the Innoweave team to discuss hosting a learning event for you and other organizations in your community.


Innoweave offers support to organizations that are well positioned to undertake Explore and Experiment coaching. You can connect with an Innoweave coach to help you explore and implement your initiative. Then apply to Innoweave for funds to support that coaching engagement.

Ben Weinlick
Kathy Manners
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Apply for support

Your organization is eligible to apply for Innoweave coaching support if you have submitted an Expression of Interest and it has been approved.

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These are our most frequently asked questions.

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What resources are needed to set up a social innovation lab?

Different types of labs will require varying levels of resources. Generally, however, labs require coordination to set up iteration processes, in addition to spaces that foster creativity and open dialogue.

Do I have to create a social innovation lab to use Explore and Experiment approaches?

No! The approaches supported under Explore and Experiment are often used in a lab setting, but you need not build an entire lab to try them out. We recommend connecting with Innoweave (info@innoweave.ca) to chat some more about what challenge you’d like to experiment on, so we can share some ideas about the best tools for the job.