OpenIDEO.com – expanding the community of problem-solvers
The theory behind OpenIDEO.com is that ideas emerge through a collaborative process, and that this process is most effective when it is inclusive and open to non-experts. OpenIDEO.com is an online platform, maintained by the design firm IDEO, which elicits participation in the design process from anyone who’s interested and willing to contribute to solving serious problems.
The site intends to create promising solutions to “Challenges,” social problems in need of innovative solutions, like raising kids’ awareness of healthy eating, making affordable learning tools more available in the developing world, and increasing the numbers of registered bone marrow donors.
There are three crucial design features that make OpenIDEO inviting and fun to use. One is its interactive design process, a three-stage progression of inspiration, conception, and evaluation. To start, a challenge is posed by IDEO to the community, with an explanation why the problem exists and which particular facets of it are most in need of innovative solutions. During the next two phases, any registered user can jump in during to suggest inspirations and concepts, or to collaborate by building on other users’ ideas, but there are time windows for each phase. Contributions are encouraged to be as specific as possible in explaining how they address particular aspects of the challenge.
The second important aspect of this site is the system of rewards that motivates users to participate in the creation process. Users create a profile and accumulate accolades through posing inspirations and concepts, as well as collaborating with other users and applauding other ideas. After the evaluation state, finalists are selected and a winning concept is voted on; furthermore, IDEO may actually choose to implement the final concept or some aspect of it.
Building on these features is the highly visual nature of OpenIDEO.org. Each individual entry, whether a challenge, an inspiration, or a concept, can include video or images that illustrate the content.
OpenIDEO is empowers users by making them feel that, no matter what their backgrounds are, they can be part of creating solutions to dire social problems. And it will be exciting to see how some of these ideas are implemented by IDEO in their design work.