“OpenIDEO is a place where people design better, together for social good. It’s an online platform for creative thinkers: the veteran designer and the new guy who just signed on, the critic and the MBA, the active participant and the curious lurker.”
“The idea of crowdsourcing innovation is, in my view, still a big experiment. Conventionally the question has been whether the crowd can outperform the internal team. Our view is that small teams are good for some things and the broader community is good for others. The goal of OpenIDEO is to find out whether it is possible to orchestrate a collaboration between the two to achieve better results…”
I just signed up for OpenIDEO and am excited for its potential. Those of you who follow this blog may have noticed that I enjoy looking at crowdsourcing and collaborative platforms. In ’08 we saw kluster, a year later we saw Idea Bounty (a couple other projects here and there). And now OpenIDEO.
Tim Brown is correct, there are a lot of challenges with online collaboration and it’s still an experiment. One of the main hurdles being the collaboration, one of the main opportunities being the removal of time and place. These platforms must also include a process and system that lands on ‘the best design’. Kluster has shown strengths in the evaluation phase with weighted voting. Idea Bounty skips out on the limitations in collaboration (because it’s a competition), and encourage collaboration outside the platform.
OpenIDEO begins with a noble premise to generate ideas for the greater good. And at first glance a future challenge from SONY and WWF raises the question of true altruism. Somebody has to pay the bills, right? Reading the FAQs helps clarify that “Depending on the engagement level required by IDEO, we may ask for a contribution to help cover the costs of the challenge.”
The strengths of OpenIDEO I see at this point are
1) Enabling the Innovation Process – The platform uses a simple process to problem solving. One that helps translate field notes into ‘Inspiration’. Then by moving Inspiration to > Concepting (idea generation) to > Evaluation (idea selection). Mirroring Bill Buxton’s view that ‘Design is Choice, and there are two places where there is room for creativity.‘
2) The Challenge Question – In my opinion a question is the best way to solliciate a creative response. An issue I have with the traditional creative brief (used in advertising problem solving) is that it doesn’t demand a response. This approach typically provides context and ‘one thing’ focus statement VS asking for a creative response. Reference this video by Continuum to see how they shape an insight into an inspirational question. A question that demands a response.
3) The Field Notes (or Inspiration) – Field Notes help uncover additional insight to inspire better solutions, or to ask a better question. They also show the need to understand the system (or human problem) before a well-informed solution can be designed. Wouldn’t it be interesting if this phase helped re-shape the original question? Quick Plug: At Two West we’ve been prototyping the idea of the Citizen Anthropologist to help us uncover more insight – we call it ESP, or the Ethnographic Sampling Project.
4) The Design Quotiant – Linkedin Answers is a platform where question-askers vote a ‘Best Answer’ based on their subjective opinion (I’m surprised there isn’t community voting). This ‘Best Answer’ is a badge-of-honor designed to display a command of subject matter. The Design Quotient provides a similar opportunity to demonstrate your value, but in collaborative capacities. A badge that could easily be more marketable to collaborative organizations.
5) Innovation Street Cred and More – IDEO has a solid reputation for innovation, and with OpenIDEO they understand that past success does not necessarily equal future success. And with their OpenIDEO venture they will generate lots of intangible value (and street cred) regardless of a direct financial ROI. They’re growing a participant group (recruiting new talent), learning from the experiment (potentially building a proprietary solution behind the scenes?), gaining insight, press, and innovating publicly for the social good.
Overall, like I said, I’m excited for the potential and hope to find time to participate. Try it out and know they’re fixing those beta bugs. I really want to see platforms like this succeed. And ultimately see learnings for enabling and building collaborative experiences online.