Social labs are an innovative response to the complex social challenges facing the world today. Similar to scientific research labs, which bring together a wide range of experts to explore and answer integrated scientific and technical problems, social labs are comprised of diverse stakeholders who work together to address complex social problems. Social labs differ from traditional strategic planning and technocratic approaches to problem-solving in three major ways:
- The members of the lab engage in multi-disciplinary collaboration.
- The work of social labs is largely experimental in nature.
- The solutions proposed by social labs are often systemic in scope.
 Hassan, Zaid. 1014. The Social Labs Revolution. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. page 3.