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Inspiration Phase: Learning for Innovation

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We’re so excited to have just launched our new Social Business Challenge with Grameen Creative Lab! 


As we dive into Inspiration, we thought now might be a good time to explain a bit more about the purpose of this first challenge phase.


We know that each of you has terrific ideas to contribute, and we can't wait to see what you've got. At its core, though, the Inspiration phase of a challenge is not the idea phase. So what exactly is it?


Let’s take the Social Business Challenge as an example. We know it’s going to be fantastically fun to share all of our ideas about what kind of social business might improve health in Caldas. But before we get there, we have to learn about the problem. Research, learning, questioning, exploring – these are all the actions of the Inspiration phase.


So why do we bother with Inspiration? We’re glad you asked!


Innovation is a learning process:  in fact, in order to be truly innovative, we need to know as much about the problem we’re tackling as possible. After all, if we already knew everything there was to know, someone would have already come up with a solution!


16,000 heads are better than 1: one of the best things about our global community is just that – it’s global! When we share examples of innovation from our own corners of the world, we can identify what worked (or didn’t) in one place and how it might be adapted to the challenge at hand.


Designing with user needs in mind: rather than making assumptions about the needs of the people we’re working with, we use the Inspiration phase to learn more about who they are and what matters to them (much like this researcher is doing in the picture above). Only then do we start thinking about how we might help.


Clever OpenIDEATOR Jeroen Prinsen raised these kinds of questions in his recent Inspiration, Root Cause Analysis: “Before jumping head in with solutions, I believe it would be important to understand the problem.” Jeroen, you’ve hit the nail on the head!


We hope you’ll all take the next two weeks – the shortest OpenIDEO Inspiration phase yet! – to explore the topics of social business, health, and life in South America via each of the Missions listed in the Inspiration phase.


That way, the ideas we do develop in Concepting will be that much stronger, smarter and ready for high impact! We can't wait to see what you come up with.

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