The Adaptive Cycle – phases of social innovation

The Adaptive Cycle is a model that can be used as a tool to understand the phases where new social ideas

  • emerge
  • are launched as initiatives
  • become successful and
  • inevitably adapt and change over time.

It also gives clues to why great ideas may get stuck.

This slide deck shows a visual overview of the adaptive cycle using the growth of a forest as an analogy, followed by a set of slides that look at the different stages and when different kinds of supports are needed for individuals, organizations and programs.

This simple presentation simplifies knowing the patterns of complexity of social innovation.


From the University of Waterloo’s Social Innovation Generation. For further information: