Evaluating Open Innovation Community OpenIDEO

OpenIDEO logoOpen innovation basically means using the smart people that do not work in your organisation to contribute to creating value that can be used in your organisation, or as a spin off if the resulting solution does not fit in the organisation’s strategy. So far a simplistic view of the theory. But this post is actually about a practical example that launched in early August; one that focuses on creating value for social good: OpenIDEO.

What Is It?
OpenIDEO is a open design and innovation community trying to find answers to social questions. The idea is simple: use the talents and minds of the community members in innovation challenges for a cause. As in every social network, you can sign yourself up, also by using your Facebook credentials and start sharing your ideas. And as with every other social network, you get a profile in which you’re asked to give a bio, your website(s) and your twitter account, and that shows your activity in the community for which the Design Quotient (DQ) is your badge of honour. Collaboration is guided by the 5 principles of the OpenIDEO Community: inclusive, community-centered, collaborative, optimistic and always in beta.

How Does It Work?
The innovation process on Open IDEO starts with a challenge, or: A Big Question. This challenge goes through three phases: inspiration, concepting and evaluation. All phases have a time limit on them, that is clearly indicated on the challenge page. This time-limitation is a simple but very effective measure to keep the process flowing and avoid getting stuck in a phase.
Each challenge starts with a question, explained in the challenge brief. In the inspiration phase, the community is asked to post inspiring examples to get the creative process going. The more visual the example (think photos or video), the better. When the collection of inspirations is done, the concepting starts. This is where the real solutions are proposed and built on. The final phase is evaluation of the concepts. By commenting and applauding (the OpenIDEO version of the like-button) concepts, a winner eventually comes out on top: the concept with the most applause and comments wins and is given to the organisation that posted the challenge.
For every contribution a community member makes, points are awarded in 4 categories: inspiration, concepting, evaluation and collaboration. Together these points form the person’s Design Quotient (DQ), which is shown on the profile page as the badge of honour. Adding this game mechanism is a very effective way of getting people to participate. As is showing the leader boards on the community page. You want to get something in return for donating your ideas, and recognition is always nice.

What Is Good About It, And What Could Be Improved?
I like the way OpenIDEO puts open innovation for the social good into practice. By combining the proven innovation process with social networking and game-mechanics, IDEO has started a community that can help solve some of the social challenges we face. Or at least contribute to making things better.
For now it seems, as in many social networking sites, that the vast majority of the community is American. I think it will be very benificial if the community becomes better balanced with other nationalities.

Conclusion: Skip or Join?
If you are a person of many ideas, and you like to share even if you don’t make money of it, this is definitely a great community to be part of. I like it very much, and would certainly put a challenge to the test here if I had one. So, my conclusion: Join.

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