A solution ecosystem, from inception to execution

April 7, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

Sometimes problems resist solution because they are daunting or complicated or even difficult to understand.

Often, however, problems persist because there is no atmosphere for problem solving: it doesn’t occur to anyone that solutions can be found for problems or that it is worthwhile to try to arrive at solutions. Such an atmosphere can involve new organizational models, new currencies, new applications of technology and a new generation of people willing to make saves.

In their book “The Solution Revolution” William D. Eggers and Paul Macmillan emphasize the idea of fostering a solution ecosystem, one in which solution is part of the way of life, not a stranger to it. They suggest the following steps for a solution ecosystem, from inception to execution.

  • Identify: Problems, existing solutions, gaps in existing models or markets, limits and failures of current players;
  • Connect: Connect around a central problem, have conveners bring the problem into the spotlight, ascertain relevant technologies and models to leverage;
  • Innovate and incubate: Invest in market-building activities, convene problem solvers and innovate solutions, pilot innovative ideas with seed funding, build and test multiple prototypes; and,
  • Execute and scale: Establish standards and benchmarks, create an ongoing process to refine solutions, scale solutions.