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Partnerships at eye-level and the co-creation of innovative solutions between diverse stakeholders need to be grounded in a common language. This allows for a common starting point and facilitates communication.

Here, we provide you with our perspectives and understanding of approaches – in a nutshell. For deeper insight, have a look into our toolbox or join us live. In addition, you will find some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Yanuz, the team or our change agent training.

Yanuz is grounded in the concept of mutual continuous learning. So, please let us know what you miss or share your own views and ideas with us.

How do we understand social change?


For us, in its broadest sense, change means to make things different or to become different. Striving for social change is an eager goal that involves the alternation of the social order of a society. This assumes interconnected sustainable change in social institutions, social behaviours and social relations.

In our context, social change determines the learning pathway towards the complex challenge of a more healthy society. It refers to mid- to long-term developments in society at large that are often accompanied by disruption.

This includes more citizens enjoying a (more) healthy lifestyle but also their social environment holding (greater) capacity to enable and value healthy aging. 

What are complex problems?


Complexity refers to a dynamic and constantly emerging set of processes that interact with each other and develop by these interactions. It means that complex problems are specifically determined by greater social complexity. They are subject to constant change in time, emergence and self-organisation qualities.

Complex problems include the ability to approach them from multiple – sometimes even competing – perspectives. There is no single (right) solution but multiple possible solutions to complex issues.

Complex issues need to be clearly distinguished from complicated and simple problems.

Simple and complicated issues are characterized by knowing the outcome in advance. Thus the steps to follow can be clearly defined. Both the outcome and the process is reproducible.

Whilst a simple problem – for example making coffee – is realtively simple to resolve, the complicated needs considerably more effeot and expertise, for example when it comes to rocket science. However, for both one can create protocols and rules towards the criterium based outcome.

Complex issues on the other hand – for example raising a child – are characterized by the inability to define the outcome(s) completely. There are no defined standards or exact protocols to follow, because complex problems are subject to emergent processes.

How do we understand social innovation?


For us, social innovation is the process of commonly developing and deploying novel ideas and effective solutions towards social change. This includes out-of-the-box-thinking to meet social needs, create social relationships and implement co-creation towards healthy lifestyles.

Such social innovations can be products, services, programmes or models addressing unmet complex societal challenges more effectively.

From our experience, social innovation requires an ecosystem in which all stakeholders collaborate from a multi-actor approach. This innovation ecosystem must have a special emphasize towards collective ownership and active involvement of the end users in all phases of the social innovation process.

What is our understanding of a community of practice?


We have experienced that a community of practice (COP) is one valuable enabler and excellerator to facilitate and drive social innovation. It builds the social innovation ecosystem to enable social change.

Communities of practice describe a social learning pathway where people voluntary commit to improve a common concern around a complex social challenge. Its members interact regularly to learn and to co-create innovative solutions.

The COP is determined by an active and open learning environment that allows for eye-level exchange and a participatory approach. It leads to action towards social innovation that is openly shared and can be applied in practice. For us, the COP is an instrument for education to anticipate contemporary challenges and gives a structure for lifelong learning.

How do we understand a complexity-oriented approach?


From our point of view, a complexity-oriented approach is based around an underlying (onto-epistemological) philosophical shift from a conventional Newtonian (linear, cause-effect) perspective to a systems perspective that embraces non-linear causality.

Learning and researching then always have their roots in the anticipation of complexity, and thus they are embracing the emergent and dynamic characteristics of complex issues. To think and work consistently from a complex ontology we define as a complexity orientated approach.

What is meant by collective ownership?


For us, an important aim of a local community of practice is to create collective ownership. Collective ownership means ownership of all members of the respective local COP for the mutual benefit of all.

Collective Ownership encourages everyone to contribute new ideas to all segments of the COP, but also to make use of its outcomes in their specific social context.

What is a Yanuz change agent or change agency?


From our point of view, change agents are persons who are able to encourage people to engage in successful change assignments and who are skilled to facilitate change processes.

Yanuz Change Agents come from inside a local community of practice and engage with promoting healthy lifestyles at the local level at a regular basis. They are equipped to facilitate change processes and the implementation of innovative solutions through communities of practice under the specific circumstances of their local environments.

Due to the various roles of change agents to take in the running of local communities of practice, we support the mindset of change agencies.

A Yanuz Change Agency is made by a team of change agents that have the complementary knowledge and skills to commonly – and sustainably – facilitate their local community of practice towards social innovation for a more healthy local society.

What is a social innovation makerspace in our context?


A Yanuz Social Innovation Makerspace serves as a tangible environment for co-creation and collaborative learning. It creates a learning environment that differs from typical class-room settings.

It includes furniture and technical equipment that invites for innovation and collaborative practice where students and COP stakeholders build up their capabilities together, at eye-level.

A makerspace provides a safe and engaging ‘feel-good-place’ for practical hands-on experience with new technologies and innovative processes to design innovative solutions for the local community.


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