From city bus stops to school lunchrooms, the platforms of social change are all around, as are the creative minds that build them. That’s why the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team at Samsung Electronics started Tomorrow Solutions, a nationwide competition in Korea aimed at uncovering and advancing powerful new ideas to solve social problems.
Samsung and Continuum worked together to create Samsung's Tomorrow Solutions Fair, an open innovation platform that asks the general public to address everyday social challenges. Unlike most corporate-sponsored idea competitions, Tomorrow Solutions considered not only the quality of final deliverables but rather measured the sustaining impact of the top innovations.
Samsung Electronics’ internal talent and competencies helped ensure that the platform would focus on defining and tackling problems. Continuum’s Seoul team helped frame the Tomorrow Solutions program to ensure that it fostered innovations with the greatest potential for creating meaningful social change.
Research & Insights
A Different Way to Win
Most social innovation competitions in Korea gave weight to the quality of final submissions but little consideration to the process by which participants conducted their work. Our team saw this as an opportunity to differentiate Samsung’s CSR program, by restructuring it around a design-thinking approach. Tomorrow Solutions’ winning projects would be those that embrace human-centered design principles and consider all stakeholder needs.
A New Beginning
It’s impossible to solve a societal problem at a macro level without first understanding, at a micro level, the individual members of that society. Our new framework for Tomorrow Solutions required participants to explore their social problem in-depth, from different angles, to uncover the root causes or perspectives not immediately apparent. We also tasked them with identifying the key stakeholders their solution was meant to serve. Gaining greater visibility into the social drivers and human values underpinning their project enabled participants to ask the right questions, before seeking the right answers.
Ensuring Success Through Trial and Error
Our new framework highlighted the importance of prototyping, in which the participants’ output was validated in a real-world context. We empowered participants to use trial-and-error to test out ideas, and refine based upon their insights. By constantly challenging their own solutions, participants evolved their final output to be more socially relevant and potent.
Samsung’s CSR team and Continuum reframed Tomorrow Solutions to better evaluate, identify, and nurture meaningful new social innovations. An inclusive platform open to the general public, Tomorrow Solutions gives aspiring social innovators of all ages and backgrounds the chance to bring their ideas to bear in the world, with the support of Samsung’s talented engineers and designers.
Tomorrow Solutions’ innovation guidebook and toolkit applies design thinking methodologies for creative problem solving. Our framework provides guidance for scrutinizing the problem at hand, engaging stakeholders, and prototyping ideas to develop a human-centered solution.
These new process guidelines, in turn, define the standards by which Samsung selects their award winners. Tomorrow Solutions participants are judged according to an evaluation matrix that includes criteria such as originality and diversity of ideas, demonstrated passion and commitment, expected social impact, and overall benefit of the solution. Aligned with Tomorrow Solutions’ mission, theㄱㅘse new criteria balance an emphasis on the final output quality with methodology used. This new platform also partners participants with relevant experts from Samsung’s talent pool.
Tomorrow Solutions has become a sustainable platform by which individuals can impact the world in a positive way. Since launch, over 100 new social innovations have been created and made real. Two innovations generating particular public attention and acclaim are the MUJIGAE Food Tray, which eliminates food waste in schools, and a bus service for the visually impaired.