In April, Scope set up a Foresight and Innovation unit. Since then we’ve been busy setting up some new projects, developing our own innovation process, and gathering ideas and inspiration from innovative work from across the world.
The Foresight and Innovation unit is designed to help Scope access the best new thinking, data, external ideas and practical tools to develop pioneering processes, services and products that help us achieve our vision of a better world for disabled people and their families.
It’s been a steep learning curve for all of us, especially two of our Charity Works graduates, Zoë Boult and Rosa Manning. They joined the unit at the beginning of September and have been plunged headlong into a world of minimal viable products, hacks and prototyping!
But while the innovation world is full of jargon, and there are lots of definitions of innovation and lots of books and consultants with views on how to do it, for me, innovation, at its heart, is simply about solving problems.
Contrary to popular belief, innovation is not some mysterious process practised by a chosen few; in fact most great innovations have been developed by ordinary people inspired by a problem. So if you think innovation isn’t something you can do, think again.
Most innovation is incremental, it will make what you already do a bit better (think about ring pull openers on tin cans or quick drying paint). On rare occasions, radical innovations can transform the way we live or organise ourselves as a society (think about the Internet or the petrol engine, or democracy).
So why does Scope care about innovation?
Because in our world we encounter lots of problems. For example how can we continue to provide good quality care in the face of huge public spending cuts; how can we help disabled people without speech to communicate effectively; and how can we bring down the extra costs of living that leave many disabled people in poverty?
We aren’t short of problems, but in many areas we are really short of good solutions. That’s why innovation is important and that’s why Scope is investing in it.
In future blogs I will tell you more about the projects we are working on and share some of the tools and inspiring projects we’ve identified that might help you make things in your area of work that little bit better.
But, for now I want to share some good news. In October three of Scope’s projects were shortlisted for international best practice awards from the Zero Project. Scope’s Connect to Control and Activities Unlimited projects and the Access to Elected Office Fund, which we worked with the Government Equalities Office to create, have all been recognised as best practice under the themes of living independently in the community and democratic participation.
They show us that Scope is already an innovator; in policy, in technology and in service delivery. We are looking forward to building on these great foundations.