Okay, so you’re ready to get started. You’re excited about the prospect of catalyzing a uniquely awesome career of tackling big effing problems (re: saving the world) like the hero you always secretly (or not so secretly ) knew you were. There’s just one issue: where do you start?
The Stanford Center for Social Innovation made the video above on this very topic (this is a marketing video for their program, but there are plenty of ways to get started without a fancy degree).
The world is chock-full of issues worth addressing. To start thinking about issues you could address, consider the issues that have popped up in your own life. What problems have gotten you really riled up? Also, step out into your community. Is there someone, or maybe a group of people, who have a problem you think you could help solve?
So we started at the personal level, then moved up to the community level. But what about the global scale?
Luckily for us, the United Nations has come up with a list of priority issues that it calls Sustainable Development Goals. Here they are:
These goals come from the internationally agreed upon 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by Heads of State and Governments in September 2015. The 2030 Agenda is a new plan of action for people, planet and prosperity, with 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 associated targets at its core. I highly recommend you look into each of these goals on their website.
Okay, so now you’ve thought about the world of concerns that you could potentially delve into if you so desired. Now let’s take a moment to consider how you could start problem-solving.
Here’s a great resource from the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society about problem-solving that I highly recommend: “Problem Solving, Human-Centered Design, and Strategic Processes” by Paul Brest, Nadia Roumani, and Jason Bade. This essay sets out a framework for integrating conventional problem solving and strategic planning techniques with Human-Centered Design (HCD) to help organizations improve their understanding of the problems they are trying to solve and increase their creativity in developing solutions.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments regarding your process for getting started on social innovation, for problem identification and selection!