Amazon, Google and most private sector superstars spend 3-30% of their annual budget on research, design, and development. It’s time the social sector has the same infrastructure to re-imagine what is and co-create what could be.
Grounded Space 1.0 was Canada’s first collective of social service and community organizations pooling resources for continuous experimentation, or what we call Social Research & Development. It was undertaken with the Degrees of Change organizations as well as West Neighbourhood House in Ontario.
Grounded Space 1.0 was a next iteration of Fifth Space, a social R&D undertaking with Degrees of Change organizations and InWithForward . From Fifth Space we learned that even when staff are upskilled in social research and development methods, they don’t apply them to everyday contexts. The reason, we though, was because the cultural conditions of organizations weren’t generally amenable to experimentation. Instead, they were characterized by conformance, compliance and accountability, which is anathema to creativity, to contesting values and assumptions, and so on.
Grounded Space 1.0 was about creating space for experimentation inside organizations. It consisted of a new role–the culture curator–who would provide the permissions for staff researchers to dig into organizational culture, ask questions, and try new ideas. It was about building ongoing capacity and culture within our organizations to make, test, and embed new practices.