Norm, deviant and diffuse

Social innovation is very serious business, with profound human consequences. But it has been largely misinterpreted: as creativity, as an expression of noble character or as a pretense to teach business and entrepreneurial skills. In response, GreenHouse has developed a foundational framework for social innovation, grounded in both social science and empirical research over seven years of projects in the public, private, social and academic sectors.

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At its core, social innovation involves three steps: revealing the social norm that holds the undesirable conditions in place; identifying or creating a deviant from that norm; and diffusing the deviance through a sufficient number and breadth of reference groups.

GreenHouse has developed a methodology – and is working on a technology – to help potential social innovators with the first two steps: revealing norms and identifying deviants. The framework and methodology are being taught in-depth at USC as part of the nation’s first doctorate in social innovation and will be fully explored in the first-ever casebook on social innovation.