Better solutions and new ways of solving problem is required in all areas of society. Social innovation is a concept that is perhaps less known that innovation in technology sector. But to make positive social change happen requires new ideas and solutions.
The Young Foundation has Thinking Action Change as their motto and the organisation works hard towards making sure that thinking leads to action. Below is an extract from two blog posts written by Daniela Olejarova about social innovation in Slovakia.
In the first post Daniela sets the context for social innovation in Slovakia.
“Imagine a country where – similar to George Orwell’s 1984 – only a single opinion and perception of reality were permitted to exist. Unfortunately, such was the context of many Central and Eastern European countries, including Slovakia, for more than 40 years. Twenty four years later, Slovak society is still struggling with allowing itself to think “out of the box” and be innovative in different areas – technology, research, politics or social issues. According to the 2011 European Innovation Scoreboard, Slovakia is one of the lowest ranking countries for innovation performance in general. Despite high ranking on human resources (top 5 – right after the UK!), the opposite is true (bottom 5) when it concerns open, excellent research systems or intellectual assets. There are some excellent examples of successful social innovation within Slovakia, which I’ll be highlighting in a subsequent blog post. However, they are islands within a broader culture that does not understand or support them. What prevents Slovak innovation leaders from fully developing their potential?”
In the second post, some recent success stories are described like the idea to install audio cash machines. As a comparison, talking machines has recently been installed by some British Banks.
Audio Cash Machines
In 2011 Tatra Banka, a major bank in Slovakia – through close cooperation with the Slovak Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted – launched an innovation of cash machines which provide recorded instructions to visually impaired people that they can listen to through headphones. This allows them to have direct access to their finances, helping them to become more independent. The bank employees were engaged in recording the instructions on a voluntary basis. Almost 120 such cash machines have been installed throughout Slovakia. This could be considered a systemic innovation because it’s the first bank in Slovakia providing such services to people with visual impairment.
These are just a few of the many examples of successful social innovation in Slovakia, all of which are building up a momentum which is transforming our national culture of innovation for the better. Innovations like these – and especially the people promoting them – make a significant contribution to overcoming relics of the past and building the foundations for Slovakia to be a free and open society.
You can read the blog posts here.
Photo by scottchan