Taking innovation to the people
At TACSI, we run one-day workshops on social innovation for many organisations. They are a great way to get introduced to the new ideas, tools and mindsets needed for innovation.
But they are not enough to change behaviours, or develop innovative responses to complex social issues.
If you’re in Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide you could access more coaching and support from TACSI to grow your capability. But what if you’re in Lake Cargelligo is Western NSW?
In regional Australia, the story usually goes something like this. Expert from the city flies in, delivers a one day workshop, flies out, and then you are left to figure out how to turn this learning into some action on the ground.
Building regional social innovation
In 2016, we flew into Lachlan Shire, six hours west of Sydney and ran a workshop for a great group of people who were passionate about building positive futures for their region. They were doing good things, but knew that with more support and learning they could achieve great things in their region.
In the process of running the workshop and talking over a few drinks afterwards, we began to grow a big idea.
The people at the workshop were doers – they wanted to do things differently because they could see that doing more of the same was not going to work to build a future for many people in the region.
They were natural entrepreneurs, and they were born innovators, but they needed more than a workshop to tap into that potential.
Most of the examples we share of social innovation in workshops are urban examples; few are about the innovations that take place in regional and rural Australia, despite the fact that there’s lots happening across the regions that could contribute to the growing field of social innovation.
What if regional Australia became a heartland for great social innovation?
What if we catalysed a regional epidemic of social innovation that spread from community to community and grew thriving regions across the country?
This is exactly what we’ve started in Western NSW with the support of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation. We’re starting in three areas: Dubbo, Lachlan Shire and Bourke.
We are challenging not only the fly-in, fly-out model of training, but also the idea that we should start with ideas from the outside and then try to adapt these to suit different communities.
Introducing the Regional Innovation Network (RIN)
The Regional Innovation Network turns learning and innovation in the regions on its head. We start with what is happening on the ground already. We look for innovators and innovations, work with them to not only grow their programs of social innovation but help them spread these learnings in their own communities and across the region (and possibly beyond!).
We are growing a new way of learning with communities, and of community to community capability building.
In the process, we are:
Growing people, communities and stories of doing social innovation in regional Australia;
Supporting locals to turn ideas into outcomes in regional communities by working alongside them on real projects;
Using all that is learnt in the process to form Australia’s first regional social innovation academy where community members become the faculty and ideas, learning and action is transmitted from community to community across the region.
It is the beginning of an epidemic – where communities are spreading not just ideas, but real and lasting skills and action that will help their regions thrive.