Participatory, user-centric approaches to solving problems are gaining momentum as alternatives to traditional organizations. Among these approaches is the innovation Lab, a creative, multi-disciplinary environment that employs a proven and repeatable protocol to seek disruptive, potentially systems-tipping solutions.
Labs: Designing the Future examines the Lab’s roots in complexity, networked collaboration and design thinking. It shows how Labs focus on problem-solving in a highly experimental fashion within a neutral space. The paper offers a review of several Lab models in action around the world, highlighting the Lab’s role in addressing the complex challenges we collectively face in the 21st century.
It is widely recognized that our existing industrial systems are showing their limitations as 20th century constructs in a 21st century context. James Maxmin and Shoshana Zuboff, authors of The Support Economy, argue that organizations in both public and private sectors are increasingly disconnected from the people they serve.1
They contend that incremental innovation within old organizations will not create the change required to meet growing challenges. Charles Leadbeater, innovation authority and advisor to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, concurs. He writes, “In the name of doing things for people, traditional and hierarchical organizations end up doing things to people.”2
In this time of major socio-economic and ecological transition, the world needs new approaches to problem-solving beyond the traditional organization. Hence the theme of the 2012 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos: “The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models.” In positioning this theme, WEF founder Professor Klaus Schwab defined four “musts” to effectively address global challenges:
1. To integrate empowered newcomers in “collaborative power”
2.To cultivate regional and global togetherness
3.To embrace a “stakeholder” rather than a purely quantitative “shareholder” approach to economic development
4.To transition from capitalism to “talentism”3
The full report can be downloaded here.