IDEO is a design firm that assists companies in sparking and nurturing creativity within an organization. In 2010, the firm launched OpenIDEO to help solve pressing societal issues through crowdsourcing. IDEO refers to their methodology of “design thinking,” which marries the human perspective with available technology. More recently, OpenIDEO teamed up with Michigan-based Steelcase, which sponsored a challenge to help find sustainable solutions for cities like Detroit that are facing economic decline.
The purpose of partnerships like this one is to encourage creative ideas and collaboration in an effort to maximize an outcome. In this case, the process begins with crowdsourcing sustainability ideas. Submissions then go into an Applause phase where some ideas are filtered out; followed by Refinement and finally an Evaluation phase, after which only the best ideas remain.
To date, 894 inspirations have produced 331 concepts that resulted in 11 winners. One of the 11 winners is a Decode the Codes manual, which is a translation of the rule books provided by cities to inform residents about policy and codes regarding such matters as how an abandoned parking lot may be used. These online manuals are intended to be intuitive enough for public consumption and untangle the web of complicated intertwined regulations. Each of the 11 of the winning ideas can be seen here.
We built this platform as a way to learn how we can push the design process… How we can collaborate with thousands of people, not just small teams within IDEO? OpenIDEO is partly a testing ground for how you extend the idea of design thinking to a crowd.
Nathan Waterhouse, Co-lead, IDEO
OpenIDEO provides users with a Design Quotient score that tallies up creative concepts, feedback, and improving the ideas of others allowing the applicants visibility. It isn’t necessary to be formally trained in design to participate.