Powering Social Issue Breakthroughs Through Open Innovation Design

Written by Clive Reffell

Sep 11, 2019

Powering Social Issue Breakthroughs Through Open Innovation Design
At first glance the open innovation sector can appear a crowded  and perhaps confusing space. A closer look reveals many platforms have focused down on to one area of specialist business interest. OpenIDEO is one such platform and provides an interface for social issue challenge sponsors to engage with design solution providers. From starting as a mere Facebook post in 2010, OpenIDEO last year generated 19,608 ideas from participants in over 200 countries who shared $4.2 million awarded by challenge sponsors.

An effective “Third Way”

Open innovation challenges throw problem solving opportunities open to a more diverse range of solution providers than would probably be employed by a challenge sponsor on a continual basis. In the matter of social issues, it can be hard for free market forces motivated by maximising profits to address the concerns of all stakeholders adequately. It can be as equally challenging for government bodies or agencies to distribute taxpayers’ contributions in ways acceptable to the cash contributors, the service providers or facilitators, and the end-of-the-line recipients.

Benefits for challenge sponsors

The platform wants to help design solutions for the world’s toughest problems. Challenges hosted by OpenIDEO accelerate impact through bringing the right people together through a process of self-selection. Collaborative engagement between them can create momentum to turn small ideas in to significant breakthroughs. 

Challenge sponsors include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Nike and The Rockefeller Foundation. Occasionally, a number of organizations will work together to jointly sponsor a challenge.

Benefits for solution providers

Individuals who choose to become involved find willing support and encouragement to make an impact on big social issues. It connects them with other innovators, both like-minded and those with alternative knowledge, skills and experiences they would perhaps otherwise never engage with. They find access to resources to help develop their ideas faster and further than they would otherwise be able to, and develop their own personal skills through their interaction.

Diversity of challenges

Challenges now closed include improving water supply and sanitation in India, reducing food wastage (main image: OpenIDEO’s Food Waste Challenge engaged over 20,000 people around the world to design solutions to reduce food waste) and designing a bicycle share scheme in Kenya. Three current challenges focusing on healthier aging through improved bone fracture treatment to prevent osteoporosis, creating a compelling visual representation of cybersecurity, and creating books that inspire young children and their carers to read together are just a tip of the iceberg. 

Powering Social Issue Breakthroughs Through Open Innovation Design

Photo by Avi Richards on Unsplash

Let’s take a closer look at the cybersecurity-related challenge. Too often, visuals in the cybersecurity space reflect surface level understanding influenced by sensationalist media. We see pictures of locks, white men in hoodies, or green 1s and 0s that do little to convey the reality of this complicated, critically important topic.

This challenge, sponsored by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, hopes to realize imagery that better represents the cybersecurity space in an accessible and compelling manner.

From 165 unique visual creators who submitted
209 ideas from 14 countries across 6 continents,
25 entrants made it to a shortlist. They will each receive mentorship from a cybersecurity expert and $500 to take them forward to the next stage in which five winners will be rewarded $7,000 each. The judges’ final evaluations will commence October 4 and the winners are due to be announced from October 24 onwards.

Managing the process

Powering Social Issue Breakthroughs Through Open Innovation DesignAt OpenIDEO’s HQ in San Francisco a Challenge Team of three are responsible for smooth progress of the cybersecurity challenge. They are part of the main head office team based here, under the leadership of MD Jason Rissman

There is a global network of Chapters around the world in more than 20 cities including New York, Detroit and Washington D.C. in the U.S., plus Shanghai, Sydney, Mumbai and Vienna. Current vacancies exist in San Francisco and in the Nairobi office, Kenya.

CSW Global 2019

Powering Social Issue Breakthroughs Through Open Innovation DesignWe are very proud that Jason Rissman of OpenIDEO is a speaker and panelist at our Global Conference in San Francisco this week on September 12 and 13, and the majority of Day 2 activities will take place at OpenIDEO’s offices.

Jason is speaking both days. On Day 1 at 11.25 he will be part of a panel discussing best practices to produce innovative ideas that can be implemented to solve large-scale social problems. That afternoon at 2 p.m. he will speak on the most effective ways and means to address complex social problems by developing capacities for systems thinking.

On Day 2 at 10 a.m. he will speak once again, this time on Ecosystems for Social Change. Then at 11.25 he is part of a panel discussing more open, transparent and collaborative approaches to make a difference in tackling societal problems in the future.

You can follow the event on social media using #CSWGlobal19. Or if you’re in the neighborhood a few tickets remain available.

About Author

About Author

Clive Reffell

Clive has worked with Crowdsourcing Week on sourcing and creating content since May 2016. With knowledge and experience gained in a 30+ year marketing career based in London, UK, he operates as an independent crowdfunding advisor helping SMEs and startups to run successful crowdfunding projects, and with wider social media and content marketing issues.

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