Social Innovation Lab Field Guide

Creativity Books, Creativity Techniques
We keep getting asked to email links to our latest social innovation lab field guide and thought it was long overdue to simply link it on the Think Jar Collective website. Our innovation field guide has been refined over the last 4 years and will continue with future iterations as new insights emerge. This latest version was tweaked with the help from my stellar colleague and close friend Aleeya Velji for the Mount Royal University and MacEwan University’s Social Innovation Labs Course. Terms like Social Innovation, Design Thinking, Systems Thinking and many other buzzwords of disciplined innovation approaches are demystified in the guide.

“To aid the move from roundtable talks to action, a promising approach has been emerging in the social innovation ecosystem. Often called a social innovation lab, the approach draws on the strengths, empathy, creativity, and wisdom of a collective to explore new ways of making progress on a complex challenge. These labs are guided by convening diverse perspectives on an issue, gaining insight from people with lived experience of a challenge, facilitated ideation, building prototypes of solutions, and testing them to see how they work on the ground with people. A lab creates a safe zone for a collective to explore, question assumptions, be bold, be agile enough to adapt as learning emerges and experiment with solutions. As evidence emerges of what prototyped solutions are working, solutions can be scaled and spread to impact systemic change.”

Labs are messy and so is this scrappy field guide


The guide is not as slick and well designed as some field guides, but it’s packed with practical tips, tools, and learning that is our current best offer of what helps diverse collectives tackle complex social challenges through design and systems thinking methodologies. Even if you’re working in the public or private sectors, you’ll find tools and approaches that you can adapt to help tackle your own innovation and systemic challenges.


Enjoy, remix, adapt and beware of using the process rigidly.

Ben Weinlick



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