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How To Tackle Social Challenges: Carolin Silbernagl from Zukunft Zwei

Carolin from Zukunft Zwei gives an insight into her creative way of tackling the big challenges of social change.


I'm Caroline Silbernagl from zukunft zwei. My problem was how to bring the benefits of social innovation to mainstream to actually tackle the big challenges of social change that we are facing.  My background is in social innovation, in developing innovative approaches to big social questions.

At a certain point, I came to the frustration that everything my team and I did did not spill over into mainstream. So we remained these little beautiful flowers of great creative ideas.  

My creative solution was to found a consulting agency that actually works with the organisations and institutions that build our societies. ‍ Consulting for me was a creative approach to do this because it helps me to take the methods and the thinking and the ethics of all the work I did in social innovation development and take it to the clients and to the projects that we are doing now.


First thing that I experience as valuable is to stay authentic and be yourself with all the competencies and expertise that you bring to the table because there is a strong picture of how, especially, business consulting is to be exercised and this is very much influenced by very few companies that have a very distinctive style. My experience is that the demand is much vaster than that kind of style. For example, in our work with zukunft zwei, we work with a lot of warmth and a lot of personal interaction and relationship between us, our clients, and the target groups they are working with and that's something, that's a quality that a lot of the clients are missing with other players in the field.

My second thought would be to go for diversity in the team and gender diversity is just one element of that. Especially in our work when we work a lot with societal questions it's very valuable to have different voices on the table; that applies to more experienced and less experienced people or younger and older generations it applies to every part of the diversity spectrum. We are small still and not as diverse as we want to be but that's also something that we try to achieve in the interaction with our clients: to have really a lot of perspectives coming together.

The third thing would be to accept the complexity as it is. A lot of consulting is trying to reduce complexity to make it more manageable. Our approach would be, especially in questions that tackle our social interactions or the big future topics like sustainability or equity, it's a lot about navigating the uncertainty that we are facing and embracing the complexity that's there and embracing that every step you take will have consequences that you don't see yet and working responsibly with that. Keeping that open on the table is just something that I really think is essential for the kind of work that we do.

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