3. The Road to Open Social Innovation

Along this line, this sourcebook focuses on promoting open innovation approaches suited for key challenges of sustainable development. To be successful social innovation combines all of the three visions characterized above. Social Media make a difference in all of these approaches. Policy and decision makers, therefore, will be provided with

  • Nine selected good practices – based on experience from the field of international cooperation, networks and social media management;
  • Free access to further online information and a platform for knowledge sharing and reflection with like-minded policy and decision makers,
  • Links to specific seminars for policy and decision makers provided by the GIZ Academy of International Cooperation.

The Sourcebook is dynamic and open by its very nature as well: all contributions will be periodically reviewed, updated and complemented with new findings. Examples and contributions from our readers are most welcome.



Photo Jacob Botter (CC) goo.gl/q9y20±±v


In order to provide policy and decision makers with innovation know-how for the knowledge society, this source books sheds light on open innovation from different angles. The source book is loosely grouped into four modules. The first module provides access to a number of good practices and benchmarks. The second module gives room for broader reflection while the third and fourth modules provide tools for implementation as well as thoughts on monitoring the impact of social media.

Module I: Good Practices

1. Creating Space for Change – Africa’s Technology Innovation Hubs

Social Media have by now spread to all corners of the world, including the remotest areas in Africa. They have changed our personal and professional communication, our news and consumption habits and the way we share information. New markets and industries are emerging as these technologies, in particular mobile internet services, are now globally accessible. Whilst these creative and digital industries are driven by the Internet, they also require physical space to evolve. Creating such space as well as physical social networks is crucial for digital innovation, especially in spots where fledgling technology communities are just beginning to evolve, like Addis Ababa or Dar Es Salaam. Beyond the bad news about famines and civil wars, Africa is also undergoing a profound telecoms and IT boom that sees young entrepreneurs invent anything from mobile payment systems to rooftop gardens.

2. Africa’s silent revolution – How the mobile phone is transforming the continent

Mobile innovation in Africa: The mobile phone has turned from a communication tool to a device, on which much of Africa’s economic aspirations rest. Innovations built around the mobile phone have increased the population’s inclusion in financial markets and have helped to work around the continent’s infrastructure problems. In some regions, more Africans have a mobile phone than have access to electricity. This has opened up opportunities for entrepreneurs and has changed the way business is done in the continent’s banking, agricultural, telecoms and pharmaceutical sectors. But it has also helped to increase transparency in politics, as activists use mobile applications to monitor political violence and fight against state control of free speech.

3. Without a boss and open to customers, startups can only innovate

The most efficient way to force yourself or your company to be at the forefront of innovation is to share what you are doing with everyone around you. When your customers can constantly see what you are working on, when they can copy your product and adapt it and develop it further, you need to be the best to thrive. Software startups are amongst the most innovative institutions in the world. They offer the environment that developers, engineers and creatives need to create ideas and develop products. These companies mostly do with internal hierarchies in order to allow good ideas to grow quickly and realize their potential without being bogged down by internal politics and bureaucracy. Online collaboration tools allow developers to focus on nothing but joint product development in a collaborative way, allowing for flexible software development that can quickly respond to requirement changes and problems that emerge along the way. These online tools are more than just technology. They also function as social media, allowing these companies to immerse themselves into large communities of users who contribute their ideas in what is known as open innovation, further leveraging the innovation power that single companies can field.

Module II: Broader Reflection

4. Learning by Sharing – How global communities cultivate skills and capacity through peer-production of knowledge

Open sharing of knowledge and ideas revolutionize the way in which global communities cooperate and learn. Learning can be organised in peer production based on open licensing and a decentralized, collaborative and non-proprietary process of global knowledge co-creation. This joint learning propels transformation processes and capacity development across borders. Global knowledge peer production and open innovation allows for exactly the scaling up of technical and social innovations that is currently much debated and needed in the international development cooperation world. It also allows striking a balance between respecting the intellectual property of corporations and institutions and giving communities access to advanced knowledge, in a bid to create fair and just conditions for everyone. The vision is a self-organised and connected peer-to-peer learning for sustainable human development worldwide, turning learning by sharing into a game changer in development cooperation.

5. Crowdfunding – What’s in it for development aid?

Crowdfunding is the latest fundraising buzz word. One project, one website, through which hundreds or thousands of donors not only raise money for their cause.but also spread the word all over the Internet by asking friends and followers for support. With social media at work, crowdfunding has turned into a fundraising hype. There are already more than four hundred operating platforms worldwide. But those who pioneered this fundraising instrument have long discovered that crowdfunding is not about the money at all. Crowdfunding wins feedback, volunteer support, public debate and open innovation processes that also results in direct improvements to the fundraiser’s work. Crowdfunding has the potential not only to be a game-changer to organisational structures but also to the aid industry in a broader sense - it levels hierarchies by directly linking people short of funds to people with money.

Module III: Implementation

6. Managing the open – How organisations can use social media to open up without losing control

The rise of social media is constantly and profoundly changing the environment businesses and organisations operate in. Employees are using twitter and Facebook to share their views, at times unwittingly disclosing confidential information and conflicting the organisation’s goals. Business partners and customers have access to a wealth of information as competitors
and markets become more transparent. These rapid changes in communication technology and behavior put pressure on organisations to embrace more openness. This change offers tremendous opportunities. Organisations can improve their everyday operations and boost their sustainability and competitiveness. Wikis that enable efficient online collaboration, weblogs and discussion boards that allow global knowledge sharing or the joint development of software in open innovation processes are just some examples for social technologies. At the same time, organisations are facing the fact that the widespread use of social technologies undermines traditional hierarchy structures and threatens an organisation’s traditional power structures. They need to find ways of dealing with the challenges of social technologies and make conscious decisions on how and to what extend a wider degree of openness can be integrated into their existing structures.

7. Taking Down Barriers To Social innovation

Thanks to the Internet and social media, we are nowadays able to mobilize talent and great minds from around the world to work together on all sorts of matters. This form of collaboration is the main driver of open innovation. People collaborate on open innovation platforms 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Open innovation is a global phenomenon. People share ideas and work together through open and transparent networks, be it for commercial or social purposes, thanks to the ease of online collaboration tools and social media. This module maps out open innovation as a new form of innovation enabled by the rise of social media. It provides an overview of its use in co-creation of anything ranging from products to policies, describes its use in monitoring politics and in open government. It then discusses how open innovation is an answer to organisational barriers to innovation. The next section is devoted to providing practical steps on how to set up innovation challenges and how they can be evaluated.

Module IV: Monitoring Social Media Impact

8. Impact in the Age of Context: Approaching the issue of Social Media Impact Monitoring

Social media has become one of the most powerful tools in creating the context, in which capacity can be developed. But unfortunately little evidence is available for how the impact of social media can be measured. This module describes possible criteria that indicate the success of social media activities. Unfortunately, literature on the phenomenology of social media (the experience you enjoy or create by using these tools) is scarce. However, as this publication also shows, the anecdotal is particularly strong. We all create and own stories about successful social media projects, as well as advocate for its wider usage in development cooperation. However, we often lack numbers to describe its actual impact. We have no indicators at hand, which are proven and trusted within the framework of development. How does the use of social media relate to economic growth, to food security, to youth employment, etc.? In other words: what is the economic impact of having 10,000 fans on Facebook? We lack answers to that kind of questions. Sometimes – when complexity increases – it is worthwhile to take a step or two back and observe.



>> Here you will get back to the Main Page of 'Open Innovation with Social Media'