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  • Offers a more dynamic, powerful, and practical way to address difficult social problems than the dominant planning approach
  • Features inspiring examples of the results social labs around the world have achieved
  • Provides detailed guidance on how to start a social lab in any setting and on any level

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. The answer, says Zaid Hassan, is social labs.

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.

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 describes a fast-growing global movement around a new generation of ambitious social labs that are tackling big challenges such as dramatically reducing global emissions, preventing the collapse of fragile states, and improving community resilience. The Social Labs Revolution offers a new generation of problem solvers an effective, practical, and exciting new vision and guide.