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OpenIDEATOR Insight: Louise Wilson

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London-based Louise Wilson has been an active collaborator across a number of our challenges. Professionally, she focuses on designing for social good with a passion for helping communities become more sustainable and people feel more empowered. She currently works with behaviour change company ecoinomy and with a start-up with a team of multi-disciplinary designers on  Grouple. She is also a tutor at the Kingston University Design for Development MA course and helps with social venture, The People’s Kitchen.
What first drew you to get involved in OpenIDEO?
I saw your co-founder, Tom Hulme, present OpenIDEO at a conference. I had a quick look but soon got hooked by the Local Food Challenge connecting food production with consumption. It was very relevant to work I was doing at the People’s Kitchen. The fact that you are able to contribute in your own time really appealed. The comments and feedback from the rest of the community made me feel welcome and I soon saw a real benefit to being part of the OpenIEO community. I was learning a lot from other people on the platform and found it a big confidence boost knowing that I was helping inspire others on the subject.
And how's the ride been so far?
‘Meeting’ new people has been fantastic! Bouncing new ideas around, learning from others and being able to relate my own projects to the challenges on the platform has been great. The Local Food Challenge was a subject I could personally connect with but also challenged me because the subject was much larger than my own project. When you post a piece of inspiration and see comments from other people and then watch concepts being built from the collaboration, it’s a wonderful achievement. The way the platform is set up with the applauding, building and evaluating works brilliantly for including everyone – true collaboration. I actually schedule time into my freelance work to be able to contribute to the platform.
Can you tell us a bit about London's IDEO Make-a-thon which you participated in recently?
Wow, that was an inspiring and exhausting 36 hours! I was torn between which brief to take part in but being a keen cyclist in London decided to work on the one focused on cycle safety. We had a great team and ended up with a fantastic bike light prototype and service based around training cyclists on safety issues.
The thing I love about events like the Make-a-thon is that you get to meet like-minded people and all have the same aim to achieve something great in the short amount of time you have. IDEO gave presentations as we went along to help us with storytelling, research, prototyping etc which was extremely helpful.
I often have people ask me why I give my weekend to work for free but I guess they must be people who aren’t passionate about the work they do. Working with inspiring people on projects I feel passionate about is a hobby for me and if that means I get to meet new, forwarded thinking, collaborative people, I’m there.
And what about the OpenSTORM* you hosted recently?
I have been tutoring the Kingston MA Design for Development students and I wanted them to get involved with OpenIDEO. Firstly because they are fantastic, creative and enthusiastic people who could contribute hugely and secondly because they can all benefit from it – so, I hosted an OpenSTORM one afternoon.
I gave them an introduction to OpenIDEO and then we talked through the Voting Challenge brief and discussed the brainstorming tools. They loved the idea of collaborating with others, realised that it was a great opportunity to contribute to real life social challenges and saw how their design skills could be put to use.
The Brainstorm-in-a-Box Toolkit was super helpful. We spent a fair bit of time working through the sections to get them thinking around the subject and then the concepts started flying. It was a challenge getting them to post their concepts up though – I will nag them to get involved earlier on new challenges!
* OpenSTORM = brainstorming for OpenIDEO
What are your future plans around design + social impact?
I love the fact that the latest challenge is around web start-ups because I’m busy with getting our web start-up Grouple up and running – to help people living with dementia. We have been co-designing the ‘closed social network’ with primary carers and hope to be able to roll it out with a partner in the near future. We are looking for more funding to take it from an alpha prototype to a public beta in 6 months. Although the project is aimed at dementia at the moment, we see potential for it helping a number of social issues and want to try to help as many people share the care they are carrying out.
While this is going on, I aim to get even more people involved in OpenIDEO. My boyfriend is a policy advisor and I’m working on getting him to see the value of his contributions with the view to him posting a concept at some point ;-) Watch this space.
Collaboration is the key to helping solve social issues and OpenIDEO is doing an amazing job at facilitating this!
Cheers Louise. We hope to enjoy more of your collaborative action in future!
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Enjoyed reading the Q&A, thanks! Really liking the ecoinomy, Grouple and The People's Kitchen concepts, too. I'm interested in seeing if Grouple can be used for collaborative caring in general, in addition to caring for people with dementia.