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The Social Labs Revolution

Book Description

Current responses to our most pressing societal challenges—from poverty to ethnic conflict to climate change—are not working. These problems are incredibly dynamic and complex, involving an ever-shifting array of factors, actors, and circumstances. They demand a highly fluid and adaptive approach, yet we address them by devising fixed, long-term plans. Social labs, says Zaid Hassan, are a dramatically more effective response. Social labs bring together a diverse a group of stakeholders—not to create yet another five-year plan 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. Hassan builds on a decade of experience—as well as drawing from cutting-edge research in complexity science, networking theory, and sociology—to explain the core principles and daily functioning of social labs, using examples of pioneering labs from around the world. He offers a new generation of problem solvers an effective, practical, and exciting new vision and guide.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Dedication
  5. Contents
  6. Foreword
  7. Preface
  8. Introduction
    1. What Does It Mean to Be Winning?
    2. Playing in the World Cup
    3. The Scale-Free Laboratory
    4. A Cascade of Social Labs
  9. 1 The perfect Storm of complexity
    1. What Is a Complex Social Challenge?
    2. The Futile Optimism of Optimization
    3. Yemen as a Natural Experiment
    4. Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Jail
  10. 2 The Strategic vacuum
    1. Business as Usual
    2. The Expert-Planning Paradigm
    3. Flying Autopilot in the Perfect Storm
    4. A Lack of Genuine Strategic Intent
  11. 3 The Sustainable Food lab: From Farm to Fork
    1. The Race to the Bottom
    2. The Multiple and Conflicting Logics of Food
    3. What Is Sustainable?
    4. Systemic Spread Betting
  12. 4 The bhavishya lab: The Silent emergency
    1. The Bhavishya Alliance
    2. The Moon Shot
    3. Movement Requires Friction
    4. Fail Early, Fail Often
    5. Business as Usual and Its Radical Refusals
  13. 5 The new ecologies of capital
    1. The End of the Beginning
    2. Emerging Forms of Capital and Preventing Collapse
    3. The Dumbest Idea in the World
    4. More Rainforests, Fewer Plantations
  14. 6 The Rise of the agilistas
    1. The Practical Wisdom of Social Labs
    2. Starting with Current Realities
    3. Events Rupture Dispositions
    4. The Right Stuff
  15. 7 Steps Toward a Theory of Systemic action
    1. First Requirement: Constitute a Diverse Team
    2. Second Requirement: Design an Iterative Process
    3. Third Requirement: Actively Create Systemic Spaces
  16. 8 Starting a Social lab: Seven how-Tos
    1. Strategic versus Tactical Thinking
    2. #1 Clarify Intention
    3. #2 Broadcast an Invitation
    4. #3 Work Your Networks
    5. #4 Recruit Willing People
    6. #5 Set Direction
    7. #6 Design in Stacks
    8. #7 Find Cadence
  17. Conclusion Next-Generation Social Labs
    1. Averting the Zombie Apocalypse
    2. State Collapse: A Stabilization Strategy
    3. Climate Change: A Mitigation Strategy
    4. Community Resilience: An Adaptation Strategy
    5. The Battle of the Parts versus the Whole
  18. Acknowledgments
  19. Notes
  20. Bibliography
  21. Index
  22. About the Author
  23. About Reos