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Local Group Forms to Strengthen OpenIDEO Ideas

Photo of Gary van Broekhoven _ SERVICE DESIGN & INNOVATION

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This blog post is from Gary Van Broekhoven who volunteered as a local coordinator to organise an in person OpenIDEO Meetup in Barcelona. If you’re interested in organising one in your own community, feel free to ask him about his experience and send us a note at


The first OpenIDEO Meetup in Barcelona had the aim first and foremost to gather some of the existing online community together in a relaxing environment to allow people to meet each other. A common issue the team expressed with online communities is the problem of feeling anonymous, the feeling of being lost in the noise and the need to communicate about things other than the project at hand.
Around 20-25 people responded to the emails that went out, a couple saying they love the concept but now live abroad, or live in Madrid, (hint, the Madrid community would no doubt love to meet). 15 confirmations and 8 +me showed up.
The space was provided by MOB (Makers of Barcelona) and I’d like to offer a big thanks to Cecilia for providing the space. I arranged the time to be from 7pm to 9pm as in Spain it is common to work late and also not have dinner until at least 9pm.
The Plan.
One thing I’ve learnt is plans are nice, but going with the flow is nicer. The plan was to have 30 minutes of quick intros by everyone and then have a little brainstorm. 1 hour later we had just finished the intros and it was well worth it. I was amazed at the stories people had, the past lives and their motives for coming. Several threads were consistent in everyone. They were all extremely smart, passionate about what they did, but also felt that mainstream life was not for them and that they know they can make a difference. And to be honest, they left me convinced that if anyone can make change happen, solve some of the biggest issues, these guys could. And with the great ideas on OpenIDEO, we will.
The Game.
One of the brainstorm games that I sometimes used when working as head of design for a toy manufacturer was cops & robbers. The most important rule is for your teams to not know that they are playing it. Get everyone into teams, let them take on the challenge and when the times up (in this case 25 minutes), we have each team explain their ideas. Then you announce a change. You explain that the people you have just explained your idea to are in fact the enemy. This works for projects which do have real world enemies like Raise a Red Flag and The Beacon. Now the teams “steal” the work of the previous team and devise systems for breaking it! This worked really well to help us discuss a few of the shortlisted ideas from the Atrocity Prevention Challenge given they had a challenge of figuring out ways to spread information in hostile regions.
Cool down
After regrouping the team, we listened to their thoughts for the future and a couple of things were consistent. They wanted to be part of a small tight community of people who collaboratively make change and are weary of this group in Barcelona growing too quickly as that would make them feel diluted, that their efforts and voices were less important. That they would be up for the next challenge OpenIDEO throw at them, this could be in the form of a Hackathon, but can also be more of a long term collaboration.
So we’re ready when you are!
Gary vB
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