First of all it is important to highlight from the begining, there are different views on concepts and topics of innovation and business and business. Thus, there is no single or unanimous understanding of issues, as well as related concepts and processes.

As someone who has been working with “new” issues, at least for most of regular people in the streets, such as sustainability, corporate responsibility, engagement, social investments, I think is fundamental to consider an important indicator – or KPI if you prefer – from the point of view of communication and understanding about these “weird” areas: the KPI “Aunt Cotinha”. No, it’s not a joke! This was the name I gave to represent the enormous difficulty that we have to communicate and to translate for a majority of people information regarding such themes.

In other words: I always think on how to explain something to someone, or wehn I am write about something: What I’m saying, writing and explaining would make sense for Aunt Cotinha? You know, that person who has no idea what you do, what those concepts are, can she (or he) get a little better understanding about this stuff I am talking or writing about? Sometimes I succeed, some times I do not.  So, please, take into account TC KPI as an important element that has driven my choice on content and form in this article.

That said, my highlights on the subjects I want to adress are the following ones:

  • I do not really like the adjective “social”: first because it is usually associated with issues related to people identified as social (and usually with a view of “lack”): education, health, health, food, violence, etc. What is what is what “naturally” this connection means) with the economic and environmental aspects of our society and which demand solutions.
  • Social Entrepreneurship: A social entrepreneur is a person with ideas capable of provoking transformations with broad social impact not only for social profit (or non-profit or Third Sector), private companies or the public sector – Normally among, the social entrepreneur is Associate to the Third Sector (and this is a clear example of the “problem” that is highlighted not the first point of this text …)
  • Social business or enterprise: in Europe the term “social enterprise” and in the US “social business” are companies that are formed to solve a social, environmental or economic issues (problem or opportunity) and adopt the legal format of a regular company. In general, in Brazil, the terms social business and social enterprises are often used as synonyms, but there are those who differentiate between them: social enterprises would be closer to social organizations, while social businesses would be closer to conventional business – see the concepts used by the Yunnus Innovation Center and Artemisia, for example
  • Social innovation is different not just any product that generates, but in the process:

“Social innovation is distinct (from” conventional “innovation) both in terms of results and in forms of relationship, since it brings new forms of marriage and collaboration among those involved. As a result, the processes, metrics, models and methods used in innovation commercial or technological are not always sent in the social field. “(Open Book of Innovation)

“Social innovation and the process of developing and deploying effective solutions to challenging and often systemic social issues in social progress.” A social innovation is not prerogative or privileged in any organizational way or legal framework. constituencies across government, business, and business as well as social organizations or the Third Sector “(Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSRI).

  • Social innovation and “conventional” innovation: if on one hand it is necessary to share an innovation in boxes and this can lead to separate, divide, and box What is social and what is in the real world, between what is social and what is ” of business “- how a corporate responsibility is seen as something separate and different from the field of business (when in fact, through business questions that can be provided by the potential response to socioeconomic and environmental challenges and opportunities – but this is a theme for another conversation). Thus, this is a broader and more comprehensive term than the others.

Having said that and from these alignments we enter the field of impacts and solutions.

  • Solution: comes from the Latin solutĭo, which has two conceptions. On one hand is the action or effect of solving a difficulty, a doubt, a theme. On the other hand, the effect of dissolving (yes, from chemistry classes at the college). So solving something consists, therefore, in solving a problem, an issue, a theme or take it for closed, finished. Choosing “impact solutions” as a concept is a decision that seeks to reinforce a vision that embraces the broad possibility of ways, paths, processes, approaches to find a problem resolution or to identify an opportunity.
  • Impact: are the tangible and intangible effects (consequences) of the action of one thing or entity or influence over another.
  • We need to respond to the challenges, but also the opportunities: we must avoid depression syndrome, the Lexotan effect, the focus on problems that always tends to be stronger when we talk about social, economic or environmental issues. One of my acquaintances usually says that “sustainability must be sexy”. And the same applies here. The generation and deployment of solutions capable of responding to challenges and opportunities from a social, environmental and economic point of view must be super sexy! We need to build communication and positioning social innovation, social business, impact solutions as an interesting, engaging, stimulating issue for people!
  • It is necessary to have a systemic vision and action: solutions that respond to challenges or leverage opportunities can arise from tools, processes, new technologies, tradtional knowledge, created and combined by people, groups, communities, governments, companies, social organizations . In a complex and interrelated world like ours, the solutions needed to be constructed in a cooperative and joint way to deal with the challenge. Obviously it is known that there are different corporate, organizational and social cultures that have different degrees of openness and desire to cooperate and build together. Lucky the ones that are more oppen to these connections and cooperation because they will have more chances and will have more adaptability on 21st century context.

Considering the vision I have of my work, what I have been developing in recent years, I have aligned with the concept of generating impact solutions as those that seek to respond to the challenges and opportunities for current socio-environmental and economic challenges, these solutions that can be designed, implemented and replicated in the short and medium term.