“Innovation is important insofar as it relates to the values of improvement and quality of life for people”

July 29, 2019
Communications Colunga Foundation

We talked with David Alonso, Doctor in Social Work of the Complutense University of Madrid, who traveled to our country to participate in the “How to measure innovation?” Seminar, organized by the Department of Social Work of the University of Chile. We were able to be with him in a dialogue with organizations of the Colunga Network and nurture our experience in social innovation.

How do you think social innovation?

For me, social innovation would not only be about doing new things, but that things have a value, a meaning for the people that are being done. In many cases it is not about inventing, creating things that have never been done, but taking actions that have been developed and that can be used to improve people's quality of life. Innovation is important insofar as it is related to the values of improvement and quality of life for people.

What are the challenges of measuring innovation?

The challenges would be, on the one hand, to be able to include all the agents and elements that have to do with the processes of improving people's lives, and I believe that there are basically three key elements. On the one hand, the people who design, which are the innovators, are the classic agents which are those who adopt and make the decisions to put these innovations into practice and on the other hand there are implementers, which are the professionals who work in the sector and the people who receive or are beneficiaries of the services. The challenge would be that all these agents must be taken into account when measuring innovation, because it affects all of them.

Why is it important to have decentralized measurement systems?

I believe that data is not reality, but without data there is no reality, so it is important to know what phenomena we are facing. It is important to define the phenomena that affect people in relation to the spaces where people are. They live on a street x, in a neighborhood x, a city x, it is very important that not only the macro aspects, but the aspects that affect people's daily lives be taken into account.

Why is it important to take into account the knowledge of communities in social innovation?

If we did not take into account your knowledge we would be ignoring that there is a very high percentage of people who are not participating in the process and I believe that there is a level of co-responsibility, of people who innovate or investigate, to recognize the other in the things they are doing To improve your own reality.

You mentioned that you would like to make the black book of social research, can you tell us more about it?

Normally, academics and researchers only publish things that are very effective, that have very positive results and often the research and interventions that have failed, far from being a bad or negative thing, serve as a learning process. When we fall it is when we are able to get up. It is important to show what has been the path that has led us, perhaps with very good intentions, not to do things well. Not only assess the positive aspects of research, but those things that do not work, to try to make them work in the best possible way.

The question of "failures" at the communication level has been questioned. What do you think about that?

Normally when we talk about problems people often think that a problem is something negative and a problem is a challenge. I think it is important to look at the fault, the error, for the system to work. It is true that the concept of failure has a negative connotation, but it would also try to value how positive the concept can have. The words themselves are not pretty with each other, they also have to do with the content there is. There are many people who say that innovation is a very nice word but nuclear bombs are a great innovation and it was a big problem for people. Sometimes we have to look at the words from a distance alien to the connotation it may have. There is also a provocative action when talking about failure so that it poses a challenge and improves it.

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