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Social Revolution

Despite the fact that the solution economy’s developments have proven to be valuable, it still has a long way to go. This is because the solution economy can only grow to fill the space it is given. Not all regions and governments have room for creativity or investors that trust alternative currencies of return. Governments must be willing to forge new partnerships, make data more accessible, contract for outcomes, reduce regulatory minefields, and convene diverse groups of contributors. In addition to the necessary changes the government must make, the solution economy requires people to be increasingly willing to collaborate.

The authors have developed six principles for individuals and organizations to facilitate their own solution revolutions:

1. Change the Lens. Solving a problem through current or legacy programs can be problematic. People must forget established assumptions and how they currently do things and instead focus on the goal at hand. Additionally, it is necessary to be willing to look at institutions and citizens in fresh, new ways and consider what they would be willing to contribute.

2. Target the Gaps. It is important to treat gaps in basic needs as opportunities–not as obstacles. As failure is part of the path to success, wavemakers must continually try to fill the gaps of market failures, unmet needs, and ecosystems to advance important social outcomes.

3. Rethink Constraints. Resource constraints happen and must be adapted to. After the U.S. Congress stripped away most of its budget, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had to scale back and change its role in research and space travel. By looking beyond its constraints and partnering up with several members of the private sector, NASA was able to survive. There are three things that can be gleaned from NASA’s experience:

  1. New members in an ecosystem are not always a threat and often can provide a win-win situation.

  2. It is necessary to support the development of platforms and exchanges that enable different providers to collaborate on problems.

  3. Wavemakers must get creative about the resources they can bring to emerging ecosystems because creativity can result in new solutions.

  4. Embrace Lightweight Solutions. In today’s technological age, the best solutions are often the cheapest. Truly innovative solutions can be affordable, such as free online education for impoverished people or self-monitoring health tools. The authors suggest eliminating tradeoffs between dollar investments and social returns through the following strategies:

*Leveraging the Internet for distribution.

*Crowdsourcing solutions through tools like peer-to-peer networks.

*Encouraging innovative business models.

*Including individuals and communities in tackling their own challenges.

5. Buy Differently. Purchases are like votes. Consequently, both individuals and public and private institutions can drive the right outcomes by spending their money in the right places. Governments can use prizes and challenges or pay-for-success contracts to enable solution economy endeavors. Private multinational corporations can drive the adoption of social and environmental criteria across their industries as Costco did with sustainable fishing.

6. Measure What Matters. To solve society’s most intractable problems, it is necessary to first understand what needs to be measured. Every solution economy initiative is nuanced and different and therefore requires its own carefully constructed sets of metrics and feedback mechanisms.

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