When we think of innovation – we often think of commercial innovation. New products. Services. Better, faster, cheaper. We think of startups and technology. But rarely do we think of communities.
Over the last six months, Disruptor’s Handbook have been sponsoring and supporting youth entrepreneurship organisation, Vibewire to host and facilitate social impact hackathons. We collaborate to use our tools and techniques to address intractable social challenges.
In late 2017, we turned our combined attention to our most confronting challenge yet – family and domestic violence.
Over one weekend, over 100 participants worked together to tease out the details, listen to the often personal, harrowing accounts of abuse, and partner with experts from the social services sector to develop solutions. Identifying, amplifying and celebrating the voices of the vulnerable in our community is indeed, challenging, yet the NSW Council of Social Service, (ncoss) and Vibewire approach to social innovation is finding success.
Around 50% of participants had never been to a hackathon previously – yet were, with guidance and goodwill – able to move their mindsets very quickly – creating, pivoting and iterating solutions to the challenges presented by teams from ncoss and Jewish House.
The CEO of ncoss, Tracy Howe, observed that this community led and community driven approach to challenging cultural and social problems represents a new way of thinking. It turns traditional approaches to policy development on its head, putting those with lived experience at the centre of new solutions to these challenges.
It also challenges the forms of design thinking that we’ve been using with our corporate partners. In many ways, design thinking is an intellectual exercise – it’s possible to out-think, analyse and rationalise approaches, challenges and solutions. However, when you are working deep inside a social – and deeply personal – space, the urgency to make a difference comes with added weight. The potential impact can literally change someone’s world.
After 36 hours of hacking, the participants emerged excited and amazed. In many cases, the strangers who met on Friday night were now fast friends, collaborators and social innovators. And the solutions – and potential new businesses – that they created over the weekend are set to change lives.
These solutions may only change one life at a time – but the power of articulating, validating and proving out social problems and solutions could be seen on the faces of presenters, and the teams. And perhaps the most important aspect of this entire event was simply to show that those who experience family and domestic violence are not alone. That there is a community of hackers, hipsters, hustlers and humanitarians who are willing to raise their voices, share their time, skills and expertise – to tackle this scourge on society.
Disruptor’s Handbook are proudly partnering with Vibewire 16-18 February 2018 to Hack4MentalHealth. We’d love to have you join us.