The proverb “Necessity is the mother of invention” has been a part of Western culture for centuries. That’s because it neatly summarizes something that has been proven to be true: that when faced with a difficult problem, people can be amazingly creative at devising new solutions.

We have seen this repeatedly the last 18 months as nonprofits, governments, and businesses around the world have changed how they operate to overcome the impact of COVID-19. We have published numerous articles about some of these efforts: grassroots organizations helping to get their neighbors vaccinated; food banks rapidly scaling up to meet unprecedented demand; schools and teachers moving from in-person to virtual learning.

Many of these efforts involved adopting already known approaches, such as funders changing their grantmaking to provide general operating support rather than project funding. Doing this is often not a trivial task, but it doesn’t require creating a truly new idea or process. Some of the efforts that organizations undertook, though, did result in truly new ways of tackling social problems.

Read the full article about open innovation by Eric Nee at Stanford Social Innovation Review.