Lectio Pluralis – SocialFare, design in social innovation
Monica Paolizzi and Roberta Destefanis from SocialFare – Centre for Social Innovation spoke at Arte al Centro: “Social innovation consists in answering a social challenge. To develop a project you need to study the context and produce a long lasting idea.”

With the article dedicated to Hydro, we have highlighted all the speeches from the Lectio Pluralis relative to design in social innovation. The vision of this second part of the conference (the first part focused on education) was entrusted to Monica Paolizzi and Roberta Destefanis from SocialFare, a centre for social innovation engaged in facilitating, generating and innovating solutions for the common welfare to promote a systemic change and create a new social enterprise.

“Designing for social innovation – says Monica Paolizzi – means developing a sustainable model, studying its causes and effects so that it can be continuous. You don’t necessarily need to formulate new proposals, but it is essential to observe the context and implement what already exists on the territory. It’s important to study sustainable models and try and develop a long lasting idea.
Designers must understand who they are working for and why, in order to launch useful initiatives answering specific needs. The key to social innovation is to comprehend how it can study and act on needs and context. Another determining factor is technology – if used as an enabling instrument, and not as the aim of the project itself – because it allows a quick diffusion of an operation.”

Paolizzi then talks about the time factor: “There are no defined designing time, it depends on what you must realize. Our experience as social innovators has taught us that the preliminary phase of analysis and study of context and needs is the most important and often requires a lot of time and resources. You must analyse the beneficiaries and the potential clients, identifying who are the stakeholders and partners to get in touch with. If this phase is not carried out correctly, the results are not effective.”

Roberta Destefanis takes over analysing the criticalities you meet while designing: “In the preliminary phase, called ‘empathize’ from design thinking, when you speak with the future beneficiaries of the social innovation project, it is important to listen and question the context using an appropriate non specialized language. The designer must not use a very elaborated language in addressing the interlocutors, but be clear and communicative, especially if dealing with a “vulnerable” category. Getting a wrong reading of the need voids the process: hence the probable failure of the prototype and the testing. Even more important – Destefanis explains – is the evaluation of the generated impact. You can’t talk of social innovation if you can’t precisely demonstrate that empowerment has resulted from it, i.e. not only the initial problem has been solved, but the acting subjects have been enabled to face it and fix it autonomously. Also very important for the development of a solution with social impact is to be able to overcome the fondness towards an idea not produced through the dialogue with the beneficiaries and one’s own team. Through this dialogue you are presented with different points of view which can validate, enhance or question the feasibility of a project.”

Photo credit: SocialFare.