Great innovation requires widespread collaboration. The strongest evidence of this correlation is the spike in innovation that occurred around the time of the Industrial Revolution, when people from diverse backgrounds began living and working together in cities for the first time. Solitary inventors could deliver amazing discoveries, then and now, but the world is growing far too complex for individuals to make breakthroughs at the societal level as often as before.

Tom Hulme

Widespread collaboration  CO-CREATION among diverse individuals requires clarity – making everyone aware of the process, roles and motivations. It is often improved by taking a visual approach to problem-solving, because images and drawings transcend language and enable communication across cultures.

New Ways to Collaborate

At IDEO, we have long embraced the idea that innovation and collaboration go hand in hand. When we work with clients, we typically bring in outside experts and consumers for design research and testing. In recent years, emerging technologies – from digital video to social networks – have provided completely new means to collaborate. Establishing our own web-based community and hosting challenges online seemed a natural next step. When we couldn’t find a platform that accommodated all of our criteria, we created our own.

OpenIDEO brings together creative people from all corners of the globe to solve design problems SOCIAL DESIGN for social good. The platform is unlike any other: it walks participants through the innovation process in three distinct phases; it encourages visual contributions; and it features an automated feedback tool called the Design Quotient. The DQ rewards both the quality and quantity of an individual’s contributions. All contributions are valued – even simply applauding the efforts of others.

When developing the platform, we specifically focused on encouraging collaboration as much as possible. For example, OpenIDEO invites users to build on one another’s contributions.  BLUEPRINTS It also enables comments on every type of contribution, no matter how small. These two features have already produced innovative ideas that traditional closed calls for final solutions would never have yielded.

In OpenIDEO’s first six months, the site had 10,000 active users who completed four challenges. To date, IDEO has received more than 1,500 inspirations and 1,000 concepts. We have also begun collecting success stories of how OpenIDEO is creating impact in the world — the only metric that really matters.


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