Social Innovation Safari: a problem-solving learning adventure

How can we work on the complex social issues that are in desperate need of both new approaches and new solutions? The Social Innovation Safari is a methodology for developing our collective problem-solving capabilities and skills by working on real-life challenges. Kennisland believes that the best way to innovate is to blend different ways of learning and acting.

Safari hand clap

Maker: Muryani Kasdani




Safaris can be applied on any kind of complex social issue. The focus is not on solving problems from the outside, but on understanding who is involved, what the problem is, and how to facilitate the co-design of new possibilities and unexpected solutions that enable sustainable social change. Kennisland organised Safaris in the field of education++Safari in educationRead more (in Dutch only)., on issues++CasesCheck out the cases of our Summer Safari’s. like youth unemployment and youth care, and on questions regarding the sharing economy, the environment, and arts & culture.

Who defines the problem?

A Social Innovation Safari can take place in different contexts and time frames, with different partners, with a mixed group of professionals and experts, but always with the same set of guiding questions:

  1. Framing a problem: who defines the problem? What is the problem behind the problem?
  2. Stakeholder outreach & engagement: how do you identify all the different actors, and see the world from their perspective?How do you identify all the different actors, and see the world from their perspective?
  3. Measurement, accountability and impact evaluation: judging the results and the outputs of our actions. When and why is a success a success?
  4. Cultural diversity and value-based differences: how do we differ and what do we share?
  5. Change management, dealing with resistance, conflict management, power dynamics: how do we keep moving when we get stuck?
  6. Storytelling: how do we make the case for change?

Besides working on these capabilities during the Safari we will reflect on ‘transfer problems’ and what is needed to use these capabilities back at work in their local context.

Forming a teamForming a teamForming a teamForming a teamForming a teamRichard Gerritsen on Trish Nhutsve
Social Safari 2013
Bekijk stream op Flickr

Prototype, fail, learn, try again

Eventually people learn to innovate if they get the chance to try things out in practice. When they can fail and learn and try again. We call this prototyping: setting up an experiment in collaboration with end users, and testing hypotheses and disconnects++DisconnectsDisconnects are broken connections between wish and reality, between what people experience or perceive and how the system is organized. Disconnects can also appear in or between organisations..

It’s one of the principles of the Social Innovation Safari:

  • learn by doing and failing
  • start with the (perspective of the) end user
  • think big, start with small steps
  • stimulate the ability of creative and critical thinking
  • prototype, learn and iterate
  • combine top-down and bottom-up, room for innovation is needed on all levels of an organisation

Prototyping can be helpfulThe focus is not on solving problems from the outside, but on understanding who is involved, what the problem is, and how to facilitate the co-design of new possibilities and unexpected solutions when testing out new approaches, interventions, services, relations and products. It’s part of a process of design thinking which draws on methods from engineering and design and combines them with ideas from the arts, theories from the social sciences, and insights from the business world.

Breakfast for champions @ KLBreakfast for champions @ KLTigers @ Salvation ArmyTigers @ Salvation ArmyFreerk & Kim @ Salvation ArmyFreerk Dijkstra @ Salvation ArmyTigers @ Salvation ArmyTigers @ Sociale Verzekeringsbank
Kennisland Social Innovation Safari 2012
Bekijk stream op Flickr

New collaborations and partnerships

Key element of the Safari is that we aim to establish new collaborations and partnerships. In organising Safaris we collaborated with e.g. InWithForward++InWithForwardBe sure to check out their website., the Graduate School of the University of Amsterdam, international development organisation Hivos, Pedagogical Academy for Primary Education in Zwolle and the Municipality of Amsterdam.

Safari cases have been commissioned by e.g. the Salvation Army, Amsterdam City Theater, schools for children with special educational needs, child protection services, Social Insurance Bank and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

In 2014 the first Social Innovation Safari outside the Netherlands was held in Nairobi, Kenya organised by Amani and NESTA++Partners in KenyaCheck out our partners in Nairobi: Amani Institute and Because art is life with support of Hivos and Kennisland.


Deze tekst heeft een Creative Commons Naamsvermelding-licentie (CC BY) en is gekopieerd van de Kennisland-website. Ga voor de volledige versie met afbeeldingen, streamers en noten naar

This text has a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) and has been copied from the Kennisland website. For a full version with images, streamers and notes go to