SOCANZ 13 Innovation Auckland Conference

Natalie Nicholles and Nic Frances closing the SOCANZ conference

Natalie Nicholles of NEF and social entrepreneur Nic Frances closing the SOCANZ conference


I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last two days enjoying the energy,  intelligence and commitment of the amazing attendees and speakers at the SOCANZ conference. (Tweets from the conference on storify though not many of us tweeting!)

SOCANZ is about building and celebrating social innovation and social entrepreneurship in NZ. Over two days 25-26th March we heard from an amazing and diverse group of people about their journey’s, ambitions & achievements delivering social outcomes through innovative models.

It was wonderful to get an insight into the wealth of amazing initiatives being driven out of the community all around NZ and to hear how others are tackling some of our most challenging and complex problems. There were parallel tracks so it wasn’t possible to get to everything, but four highlights for me were:

Natalie Nicholles of the New Economics Foundation (NEF) which is about recalculating how we model and think of economics and wealth. They are also proponents of the co-production model which has great synergies with co-design and participatory design.

George Housakos of Urban Communities Australia who has created an “integrated” or hybrid organisation where social and private sector thinking and approaches work generatively together to create a thriving social housing infrastructure: returning “social and financial dividends”.

Suzanne Kendrick of GreyLynn2030 : A bunch of amazing ‘doing’ by a generous and connected community.

The ever awesome transformational employment program created by the The Te Whangai Trust.

Favourite sound bite was from Jennifer Gill of the ASB Trust. Jennifer talked about the value of tensions: tight and loose being one of them.

“You need to be tight about your values and your mission (what you are doing and why, principles etc) but loose on how you get there. This is what leaves the space for co-design and co-production”.

I thought this was a very simple and powerful way of thinking about how we create the conditions for participation, ownership, and change.

My own workshop on Monday covered the topic: Design for Innovation: How might we use creative co-design approaches to co-create value? This was a hands on workshop with about 30 wonderful participants who generously trusted the process and dove straight into “Design Doing” starting with a Journey Map, and later some low-fi prototyping as way to explore design principles experientially. I will post the slides and notes from that session shortly. It was great to start this conversation with people and I am only sorry that we only had 90 minutes, no where near long enough to find out where all the people in the room wanted to take it!

A big thanks again to the organisers and all the attendees and speakers for a wonderful two days, I look forward to the ongoing conversation and action.




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