Another 6 ideas to steal from OpenIDEO

Prototype for international matching of bone marrow donors

Prototype for international matching of bone marrow donors


Last week, UnLtd posted 6 ideas to steal from OpenIDEO. And that’s a wonderful thing to do. As you know, I’m a big OpenIDEO fan, and in the almost three years of its existence, it has grown out to an enormous repository of great ideas to tackle social issues. All these ideas are in the public domain, free for you to implement. And improve your community. So, following the lead of UnLtd, here are my six ideas to steal from OpenIDEO.
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Five questions about OpenIDEO

Recently, I was selected as the End Atrocity Challenge Community Champion on OpenIDEO. Some of you might have read some of my previous posts here about the OpenIDEO platform, and those of you who follow me on Twitter might have seen quite some tweets the last weeks referring to the platform. So, I thought it would be a good time to share a bit about my passion for this open innovation platform here, by answering five questions you might have.

1. What is OpenIDEO?
As the tagline says it on the website, OpenIDEO is a place ‘where people design better, together’. This designing is done in challenges, that each follow the Human Centered Design principles of IDEO. Every challenge aims to look at a social issue, formulated in a central question, and find solutions for it. Sometimes, these challenges are quite specific in terms of locality, but even then the users are asked to come up with ideas that can be used anywhere.
Some examples of challenges are:

  • How can we raise kids’ awareness of the benefits of fresh food so they can make better choices?
  • How might we improve maternal health with mobile technologies for low-income countries?
  • How might we increase the number of registered bone marrow donors to help save more lives?
  • How might we restore vibrancy in cities and regions facing economic decline?

The current challenge is looking for ways to end and prevent atrocities, by looking at the question: ‘How might we gather information from hard-to-access areas to prevent mass violence against civilians?

2. How does it work?
The nice people at IDEO have made a great video about that, which answers this question better than I ever could.

3. What is your involvement with it?
I am an entusiastic user of the site. I joined during the healthy food challenge in August 2010, and have participated in most challenges. In some more than others, of course, depending on the time I could spend. Currently, as mentioned above, I was selected as the Community Champion. This is a volunteer role, which takes me about 4 hours per week. One of the things I do as the Community Champion, is making video blogs with challenge updates and a bit of ‘how to’ information on use of the platform.

4. Who can join?
OpenIDEO is a true open innovation platform, which means everybody can join in. And that is exactly what happened. I suspect that a large part of the almost 50.000 users are from the US and Western Europe, but there are also users from South America, Asia, Africa and Australia and New Zealand. There are men and women, most age groups are represented (although I think it’s mainly 20 and up, I have seen teenagers join in), and there’s a plethora of occupations. OpenIDEO is currently also used by several schools and universities to teach classes, so many students are also taking part. In short: OpenIDEO is a vibrant, multi-demographical community. And you’ll fit right in!

5. What happens with the concepts and ideas?
In true Open Innovation Style, all contributions to the platform are in the public domain. That includes the Ideas for solutions. Anybody can take one, or more, of these Ideas and Concepts and start implementing them to solve a social issue. One quite fresh example is the Made in Lower East Side, or miLES, project, that was contributed as a concept to the site, and then implemented by the team behind it. Another example is the MyFailTale website, which aims to help (young) entrepreneurs to learn from the mistakes from others. Recently, Tim Brown, the president and CEO of IDEO, shared the story of a Doctor in Colombia, who is taking all winning concepts from a challenge, and implements them to improve healthcare in underserved parts of his country.
By now, after almost three years, OpenIDEO has become a repository of wonderful Ideas, that are waiting for people to take them, implement them and have real impact on the world. You could be one of them.

Making Greenbook real: Open Planet Ideas Development Day

Have you ever found yourself with some time to spare and the urge to do something good with it? And did you manage to do that? Micro volunteering is not easy. Sure, there are several websites, like Sparked, but their focus is mainly on online tasks. What about off-line action? Well, that was exactly the thought of Paul Frigout when he came up with his Greenbook concept on Open Planet Ideas. Standing at a bus stop, waiting for the bus to come, he thought how great it would be if right at that moment he would be able to find a spot close by to make a difference in that short time.
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Making volunteering easier with Greenbook on OpenPlanetIdeas Dev-Day

Have you heard of OpenIDEO? If you have, you know it is a great platform for open innovation for social good.If you haven’t, here’s a short explanation: based on a challenge set by a sponsor, the OpenIDEO community is asked for ideas to tackle the challenge. Based on the design method of IDEO, the first stage consists of gathering inspirations. These are basically examples of how the challenge could be tackled. The next phase is about coming up with solution concepts. This is followed by an evaluation phase and the final step is the realisation phase. Currently, OpenIDEO has two active challenges: ‘How might we improve maternal health with mobile technologies for low-income counties?’ and ‘How might we increase the number of registered bone marrow donors to help save more lives?’ You should go and check them out.

One recently completed challenge was sponsored by Sony and WWF. It asked the question how today’s technology can address the environmental challenges we’re all facing and had a separate channel called Open Planet Ideas. It is completed in the sense that the inspiration, concepting and evaluation phases are all finished now, and that there is a winning concept that is now in the process of becoming real. The concept, called Greenbook, aims to lower the threshold for volunteering, so that people can more easily contribute to changing communities and the environment for the better. On the Open Planet Ideas website and Facebook page, the conversation continues. Everybody is invited to contribute to making this concept real. On top of that, some participants have been invited to join Development Day. I am one of them, and next Friday I will be in London for some intense brainstorm sessions to see how Greenbook can be further developed and refined. As should be with an open innovation platform, participation is not limited to the people in the room! Through the Open Planet Ideas website, Facebook page, and other social media, you can share your input as well.

As you can imagine, I’m looking forward to the Open Planet Ideas Development Day, and will definitely report back on it. In the mean time, the question is: how do you think Greenbook can convince you to do some volunteering, or raise the number of volunteered hours in your community/organisation? And: what issues in your community should be addressed?