designing stronger communities

Social innovation may start with one person, an organization or a community, but it takes a network to make true and lasting change happen.

All three sectors (private, public and not for profit) must work together, as well as with the public to achieve the solutions and outcomes sought to address today’s challenges. These collaborations are both domestic and international, and can be physical and virtual.

Achieving systemic, social change requires a shared understanding of the problem space. This demands a shared terminology, as well as a holistic evidence base about the social issues being addressed and the populations being served.

The design thinking process is structured to encourage, not eliminate, opposing views and differences. This is accomplished by creating an environment and processes to achieve needed compromises and accommodation to ‘nudge’ the needle on social challenges.

Together, hard (quantitative) and soft (qualitative) data inform a story and uncover new narratives – about how an individual, a neighbourhood, a community, a city, a nation is doing. One type of data without the other is incomplete.

The qualitative side, the one often ignored and under-valued, is in fact the missing link that can lead to systems-tipping insights and innovations. Social development by design focuses our work to enable the telling of the real narratives that will bring about positive and lasting change – for individuals, neighbourhoods, communities, cities and even Canada as a whole.

Ottawa Design Collaboratories

Working with all three sectors and the community – grounded in democratic principles – the Ottawa Design Collaboratories are applying a powerful problem-solving approach that encourages inclusion, experimentation and continuous learning, viewing the power of diversity as a requirement to solving complex challenges.

Experimental space: To come, a physical and virtual space with three dimensions to serve as both a local and national resource:

  • Design School to teach design thinking, creative and analytic approaches, entrepreneurial skills, and interdisciplinary design thinking – including a repository of tools, methodologies and best practices, in partnership with community colleges, research institutes and post-secondary institutions

  • Ideas Incubator to incubate new solutions/ideas and provide access to needed resources (experts, mentors, targeted skills workshops, colleagues to challenge and potentially partner, etc.)

  • Problem Solving Project Zone to share design knowledge with partners/clients (private, public, not for profit sectors) to address current complex problems and produce tangible outcomes

Canadian Network of Collaboratories

Working with our partners, including the Social Planning Councils and the Community Data Consortia, which now function as hubs to discuss local priorities, we are actively seeking opportunities to launch more physical and virtual problem-solving collaboratories across Canada to address critical social and public policy issues.

Scaling it up to build a resilient, more caring nation

Our intent and desire is to grow the collaboratory model, both physically and virtually, convening diverse sectors and groups of citizens in human-centric, creative and evidence-based environments. There, they would rethink and reframe current problems and challenges relevant and of priority to their communities, and co-create innovative and scalable solutions. Reframing the issues is critically important to the identification of novel solutions and social innovations.

Our goal is to stimulate a network of community collaboratories that are able to learn from each other, share insights and practices, and collectively build stronger and more inclusive communities. CCSD’s contribution will be the creation of a common shared space to learn, collaborate and co-create.

Once the seeds are planted in a community, they will have the power to co-create needed solutions. We are convinced communities will constantly return to these kinds of problem-solving fora, once established.


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Phone: 613-236-8977

Kanata, ON

P.O. Box 13713 K2K 1X6

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