PLAN Institute

For Innovators

Social innovation: Transforming deeply rooted social problems by introducing new ideas, practices, policies, relationships and resources in the direction of greater resilience.

“Watch for groups of fellow travelers with who you can journey.  Take the plunge, be prepared to learn – to be disappointed, to be energized, to be up and down but most of all to learn – about what works for you, what engages you, what matters to you, where you feel you can make a difference.”
– Getting to Maybe, Dr. Frances Westley

Plan Institute provides leadership around system transformation and public policy that strengthens the resiliency and engages the contributions of Canadians who have been labeled, excluded, or marginalized.  We are interested in the convergence of social justice and sustainable development.  Our current focus is generating new social, legal, digital and financial resources for people with disabilities, seniors and family caregivers.

Plan Institute’s experience is based in the development of a Vancouver based organization, Planned Lifetime Advocacy Networks, incorporated in 1989.   PLAN would not be here today if creativity and innovation had not been encouraged to flourish – and if their supporters had not encouraged a new way of thinking. PLAN has demonstrated that innovation is not something that starts and ends, instead, it is continuous. Each innovation leads to future innovations. At both PLAN and Plan Institute, we are intentional about creating a culture of continuous innovation.

For the first time in history a generation of people with disabilities are outliving their parents.  Five million Canadians are caring for a loved one with a long-term health problem.   Plan Institute continues to be creative in responding to these new challenges.  Instead of asking what kind of programs and services a person with a disability or caregiver will need in the future, PLAN asks; “What is a good life?” A different question with very different answers.

PLAN has taken an innovative approach to funding, and as a social enterprise, earns revenue rather than relying on government funding.  Bridging formal systems of care, with the assets of families and community (informal systems of care) while not confusing them, makes for a more efficient and effective result in health and a good life outcomes. For more information on Social Enterprise and Social Finance click here.

Plan Institute operates with different assumptions and concepts. PLAN looks at issues through the lens of abundance, reciprocity and resilience and seeks the participation of people with disabilities as contributing citizens.

Creating PLAN and its various programs required us to think and act differently about what would truly keep our family members safe and ensure a good life – which led to another insight about innovation. Simply bridging the gap between problems and solutions won’t create enduring change. Strategic innovation must address the root causes that inspired the new idea in the first place, or the innovation will eventually wither. It’s not good enough to create something new and stop there. You must continually respond to and transform the system around you. Status quo forces can be very powerful; they can withstand criticism and challenges when innovation is not reinforced by adaptation and resilience.

At Plan Institute, we are primarily interested in social innovation through the lens of impact, durability and scale. For more informationon PLAN’s Sustainability Methodology, click here.

If you’d like to read more on the subject of enduring social change, Getting to Maybe: How the World is Changed offers an in-depth look at ideas, individuals and movements that have had large-scale, durable impact.

Digital Library
Download resources, articles and listen to audio clips.

Leaders in the citizen sector who want to extend impact, durability and scale of their work should check out Thinking Like a Movement retreat. With four days of intensive learning with other social change leaders, participants will explore the complexities of systemic change while reflecting on personal roles and responsibilities.


Social Innovation:

Transforming deeply rooted social problems by introducing new ideas, practices, policies, relationships and resources in the direction of greater resilience.


Social enterprise:

An organization, usually non-profit but sometimes for-profit, that seeks to earn revenue while achieving its social and economic justice objectives.


Social financing:

The leveraging of multiple sources of financing to achieve long term, accountable, social impact while generating an economic return.




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