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Featured Ideator: Annie Lin

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Taiwan-made Annie Lin is an eclectic community builder and new-markets launcher who currently pays rent in the San Francisco Bay Area but really lives out of her suitcase. Her CORPeration Commons concept was a winner on our recent Business Impact Challenge and we've selected her to join the OpenIDEO Team as our next Challenge Community Champion. She managed a global education program during her years at the Wikimedia Foundation, partnering with educators and volunteers around the world to use Wikipedia as an innovative pedagogical tool. Across her roles, Annie strives to create motivating online and offline environments where people feel excited to contribute their best work. Annie is also an experienced public speaker, a people person, a part-time introvert, an analytical nut and an advocate for equalising access to resources.
What first drew you to get involved in OpenIDEO?
Both my training in ethnographic sociology and my involvement in the Wikipedia movement made me a huge believer in the power of (guided) collaborative, human-centered, community-driven approaches. I've also been a fan of IDEO and the design thinking for years – so when I found out that IDEO had developed an open platform where people collaboratively design solutions to pressing social issues, I signed up immediately. I simply couldn't resist getting involved in a community that stands at the intersection of so many things I care deeply about.
And how's the ride been so far?
It's been inspiring to experience just how seriously OpenIDEO takes collaboration. I've loved participating in a community where members genuinely enjoy building on each other's ideas and making innovative connections among concepts. I am super excited to help nurture and grow this healthy collaborative environment in my upcoming role as the OpenIDEO Challenge Community Champion.
What relevant passions, skills & experience do you have to be our next Challenge Community Champion?
Ever since my serendipitous involvement in revitalising a school-based television production program in 2004, I've been building and nurturing collaborative online and offline communities of various kinds. I've developed communities around an annual interdisciplinary conference, a new academic journal, an innovative method of incorporating technology into classes, a transportation mobile app and the use of video production to raise awareness about social issues. I've managed collaborative teams both across the US and in countries like Egypt where I learned quickly how to work across cultural differences and language barriers. Recruiting, mentoring and engaging community members – and developing local leadership capacity – is at the core of what I do.
Do you have any advice for newcomers to OpenIDEO?
Don't be afraid to jump right in and add your ideas! OpenIDEO is built around the philosophy that people work better, together – which also means that no one person will contribute the perfect idea in one shot by themselves. So don't worry about being perfect or even brilliant. Just put in your two cents and the community will help refine the idea. I'd also highly encourage everyone to participate in an OpenSTORM, which is a fun, casual, in-person brainstorming session with other people interested in tackling OpenIDEO challenge topics. I'll be holding at least one OpenSTORM in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for more information about that!
What are your future plans around design + social impact?
I'd like to develop other online and offline communities that use collaborative, human-centered approaches to address social issues, focusing especially on three fields that I care most deeply about: 1. Creating healthy workplaces that encourage creativity and mental/physical wellness. 2. Closing the gap between what is traditionally taught in classrooms and what skills are actually needed in contemporary society. 3. Revitalising resource-poor cities. This might mean starting a new kind of school focused on doing hands-on projects with local organisations, helping a company to refine its culture and work environment – and/or creating programs that pair up cities to share resources. Whatever shape these projects take, I see my role as that of a community builder and strategist, and the philosophy and approach of OpenIDEO will continue to be an exemplary model in my mind.
Annie's Community Champion posts:
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Wow, Congrats, Annie. It is great to hear this news. Enjoy the role.

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