Reading List

Below are a few suggested reading materials on public + social innovation labs.

Lab Matters Kennisland1 // Lab Matters: Challenging the practice of social innovation laboratories

BY: Marlieke Kieboom – Kennisland

May, 2014

“Social innovation labs are ‘hallelujah-ed’ as the latest vehicles for transforming the way our cities, our schools, our welfare programs, and even our economic systems run. Yet we, lab practitioners, encounter a lack of critical literature and struggle to find learning spaces to improve our practices and deepen our knowledge. The paper “Lab Matters: Challenging the practice of social innovation laboratories” aims to move beyond the current lab hype and deepen our discussions by asking ourselves tough questions. How do we ‘lab’ social challenges? Does labs’ pursuit of systemic impact miss the point? And how could we better prompt social change?”


Radical Dilemma Geoff Mulgan2 // The radical’s dilemma: an overview of the practice and prospects of Social and Public Labs (v.1)

BY: Geoff Mulgan – Nesta 

February, 2014

Introduction to the history, structure, methods of a public + social innovation lab. Great foundational reading.


Labs: Designing the future3 // Labs: Designing the Future

BY: Lisa Torjman – Martin Prosperity Institute (formerly SiG@MaRS)

February, 2012

Another great foundational reading – a general introduction on the international ecosystem of labs, the utility of tackling complex challenges with the lens of a public + social innovation lab, and the value that this model brings.

This report is a foundational document for the creation and establishment of the MaRS Solutions Lab.


SiG Change Lab/Design Lab for Social Innovation Report 4 // Change Lab/Design Lab for Social Innovation

BY: Frances Westley, Sean Goebey, Kirsten Robinson – Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience

January, 2012

Change Lab/Design Lab for Social Innovation; a thought piece for the development of a new approach for building capacity for social innovation in Canada.


Social Labs Revolution_Zaid Hassan6// The Social Labs Revolution

BY: Zaid Hassan – Reos Partners

February, 2014

“People often ask, “If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we solve global hunger?” That very question demonstrates the fatal flaw in the dominant way of dealing with difficult social challenges: they’re treated like straightforward technical problems. Organizations do a few studies, establish some goals, devise a plan, and attempt implementation. As a look around the world sadly shows, this hasn’t worked.

Issues like poverty, ethnic conflict, and climate change are incredibly dynamic and complex, involving an ever-shifting array of factors, actors, and circumstances. They demand a more fluid and adaptive approach. Social labs are a more effective approach.

Social labs bring together a diverse a group of stakeholders not to create yet more five-year plans but to develop a portfolio of prototype solutions, test those solutions in the real world, use the data to further refine them, and test them again. Their orientation is systemic—they are designed to go beyond dealing with symptoms and parts to get at the root cause of why things are not working.”


Towards a Civic Innovation Lab7// Towards a Civic Innovation Lab

BY: Various
A collection of articles / essays. Contents include:
– Communication for Social Change
– Start-up Governance
– Democracy 2.0
– The Lab Model of Governance Innovation