Social Innovation: A BOOST for women, work and wages in the UK

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Oxfam’s UK Programme worked with Sappal Consulting and a range of stakeholders from the business, voluntary, government and other sectors, including women on low incomes, to addres the challenge of ‘How do we create the conditions for tens of thousands of women on low incomes to move into decent work that pays a Living Wage?’ We used a model called the Cross Sector Social Innovation BOOST, developed and delivered by Sappal Consulting, Social Innovation Camp and commonground. As well as developing a new high-impact project, we wanted to learn more about the social innovation process. This case study documents what we did and what we learned.
  OXFAM CASE STUDY DECEMBER 2016  SOCIAL INNOVATION: A BOOST FOR WOMEN, WORK AND WAGES IN THE UK Graham Gillions, Development Manager, Oxfam UK Programme Bally Sappal, Sappal Consulting   Oxfam Cross Sector Social Innovation BOOST (BOOST) used a cross-sector approach to address the ‘wicked social problem’ of women’s in -work poverty. 1  Participants were tasked with developing scalable, innovative, high-impact projects to address the ‘challenge question’: ‘Over the next three years, how do we create the conditions for tens of thousands of women on low incomes to move into decent work that pays a Living Wage? Oxfam Cross Sector Social Innovation BOOST partners:    2 1 THE BOOST AIMS AND BACKGROUND The BOOST supported Oxfam’s strategy to alleviate poverty by addressing gen der inequality, 2  by aiming to develop projects under Oxfam’s UK Programme (UKP) theme of Women, Work and Wages. The programme is focused on seeking justice for women living with poverty, including the significant number of women in the UK who are currently experiencing in-work poverty. The primary objective of the BOOST was: ã  To bring together a cross-sector group of participants and facilitate an ideas-generation process to design and develop a small range of innovative, high-impact projects with the ability to go to scale The secondary objectives were: ã   To assist with UKP’s approach to social innovation methodology and practical approaches to programme design ã  To enhance existing relationships and develop new relationships with a range of external organizations to support future collaboration for Oxfam. The BOOST background and approach The BOOST project was commissioned by Oxfam GB and was delivered between November 2015 and March 2016. Oxfam retained the services of Sappal Consulting, in partnership with service design and innovation experts commonground and Social Innovation Camp, to develop and deliver the BOOST event. The project used the BOOST methodology developed by Bally Sappal with the support of the Big Lottery Fund, 3  which adopts ‘ social innovation ’  techniques and tools, and a cross-sector, multi- agency approach to address ‘wicked social problems’ 4  (social or cultural problems that are difficult to solve)   which no single sector can address alone . The BOOST builds on the principles of ‘ social innovation ’, which it defines as  follows : ‘Social innovation is a solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable or just, than existing solutions and benefits society as a whole rather than just private individuals.’ 5  Social innovation BOOSTs or camps are a recent, though not completely new, phenomenon. They are a means of bringing together a range of stakeholders to work on a social issue or problem, by taking them through an ideas-generation process to identify, prototype and test new projects or products. This type of ideas-generation process has also been used by Social Innovation Camp, Start-up Weekend, Govjam, and Global Sustainability Jam. The BOOST builds on learning from organizations including the Social Innovation Camp, 6  Design Council 7  and Nesta 8  on ‘ challenge innovation ’  processes. The ideas-generation stage is shown in the context of the Social Innovation Spiral in Figure 1 below.  CASE STUDY: OXFAM CROSS SECTOR SOCIAL INNOVATION BOOST  3 Figure 1: Social Innovation Spiral Source: An introduction to social innovation for NGOs (2016), Bond Oxfam has significant expertise in this area, as evidenced by the recent report, Unlocking Innovation. 9  This outlines Oxfam’s approach to innovation as follows: ‘Oxfam’s goal as an organization is not to be innovative per se, but to work with others to bring positive change at scale. The creative, collaborative process of achieving this often leads to new solutions that meet people’s needs and improve their lives.’   2 THE BOOST MODEL The BOOST model, and the proposed methodology at the outset of the project, are shown in Figure 2 below. Figure 2: The BOOST methodology ã   Steering Group: a Steering Group is established, to include approximately 10 leaders from a range of sectors (i.e. funders, business, academic, voluntary, and statutory sectors). The Steering Group agrees the challenge or ‘ wicked social problem ’  and governs the project, including determining the exit strategy. ã   2.5-day BOOST event:  20 to 30 cross-sector participants (a range o f ‘usual and unusual suspects’) attend at least three morning sessions of the BOOST event . In the afternoons, the service designer participants develop projects further. Participants are facilitated to develop projects using tried and tested social design and innovation techniques and tools to address the ‘ challenge question ’ . Set Up Steering Group  Agree Challenge Question 20-30 Cross Sector Participants Including Beneficiaries   Social Innovation Process Winning Pitch Funding  Applications  4 ã   Projects  are pitched to a panel of experts, outlining the innovative potential of the project and the resources required to implement it. ã   A winning project is selected to be taken from the ‘ ideas-generation stage ’  into the ‘incubation stage’,  where the idea can be tested and piloted prior to being rolled out at scale. 3 LEARNING FROM THE BOOST  A review of the BOOST methodology, delivery of the BOOST event, and the roles of various stakeholders, was informed by 27 evaluation questionnaires completed by BOOST event participants; a focus group with and questionnaires from the Steering Group; and interviews with Oxfam staff. This review reflects the short-term impact of the BOOST, and notes that the ideas it generated are currently being ‘incubated’ and developed , and that new learning will arise from this process to complement and inform the initial learning. It would be useful to further evaluate BOOST in six to twelve months to test its longer-term impact. Participants at the BOOST event included eight women directly connected with the lived experience of poverty in the UK, six participants from the private sector, seven participants from trusts and foundations, participants from 10 charities, and two participants from local government (see Chart 1). Participant numbers ranged from 26 to 36 per day. Feedback from the Steering Group The Steering Group comprised members of Oxfam GB, Comic Relief, Big Lottery Fund, The British Council, Skills Network, Young Foundation, East London Business Alliance, HSBC, Timewise Foundation, Nesta, Imperial College and Microsoft. Private Sector 18% Funders 21% Charities 31% Government 6% Beneficiaries 24% Chart 1: Participants of the BOOST by sector
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