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The Refinement phase is an opportunity to start thinking about how our great ideas might play out in real life. Questions like how might we test the assumptions that underly our ideas? play a really important role in this process – but it can be difficult to know where to start. We asked designers from IDEO’s New York and Shanghai studios take a look at the first five ideas that were selected for the Refinement Shortlist, and they offered thoughtful feedback on ways to push these ideas forward. Some of the tips they gave apply to many ideas on the platform – so we’re sharing some highlights with the whole community.

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Sometimes while working on design challenges at IDEO, we need a little bit of a nudge to push ourselves and our ideas further past what already exists. When we get to the ideas phase of one of our projects, the first round of ideas that our teams and clients come up with can be a bit safe, and might simply be small variations on things that already exist in the world. While small, unexpected twists can sometimes be enough to bring a big shift to a design challenge, we've found that pushing beyond the 'safe' ideas often frees us up for even better ideas. That's why one of our 7 brainstorm rules is, "Encourage Wild Ideas."

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We when we think about new ways to bring people together, we don’t have to invent something completely new. Brooklyn Boulders (BKB) was built with a dual vision in mind: a rock climbing gym created so that its physical space would build community and spark innovation. Walk in the doors and you see an unexpected mix of New Yorkers – young professionals, retired people and kindergartners casually colliding in a single physical space. BKB’s space is the body language of Brooklyn’s culture, and a vehicle for serendipitous connection. What else could we put a twist on to bring people together in new and unexpected ways?

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As part of Amplify’s continuing initiative to support the community for the Women’s Safety Challenge, we offered Office Hours, a one hour video conference, to connect experienced designers with community members. Danny Alexander and John Won sat down to answer community-submitted questions around the challenges faced during the Refinement phase. They used their human-centered design knowledge to provide support around setting up prototypes and scoping ideas for implementation.

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Too often, companies and individuals assume that creativity and innovation are the domain of the “creative types.” But as IDEO founder and Stanford creator David Kelley and his brother Tom Kelley, IDEO partner and the author of the bestselling The Art of Innovation, tell us, "everyone is the creative type." We recently sat down with Tom and David to get their thoughts on our challenge and learn more about their new book, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All. Here's what they shared with us:

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As a designer, I see the topic of agiing as one our greatest global priorities and challenges, and my colleagues at IDEO agree. Currently IDEO's community of designers is engaging in a conversation around opportunity areas for ageing – with the goal of pushing the envelope on our thinking and refining our own internal point of view.

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Gretchen Addi is an Associate Partner and currently a business lead at IDEO in the Bay Area. She also provides mentorship and guidance to the Design Research discipline. Gretchen is passionate about the power of empathy and design and the people who make it happen, as well as the author of an internal point of view to better understand the needs of the ageing population.

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In an open and collaborative process like OpenIDEO, it's fun to go big, broad and far-reaching in our thinking, inspiration and ideas. But sometimes, the topics we tackle and our efforts together – like in our Business Impact Challenge – can benefit from some constraints.

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