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Pathways to Impact

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The journey to real-world impact can take many avenues and each OpenIDEO challenge presents us with its own set of opportunities and obstacles. We value all kinds of impact which might help tackle our challenge topics, including:
Mindset Change
We often hear from members of our community that they have started thinking about an issue differently through reflecting on challenges they've participated in. They may have changed the way they think about where their food comes from and this awareness may lead to behaviour changes in what they buy, where they buy it and what they might grow. Some challenges may trigger a heightened awareness about limited resources, like water, which might lead to more considered use at home. This in itself is a type of impact that we should acknowledge and celebrate. Together we inspire each other to broaden our perspectives and consider our own actions through our conversations on OpenIDEO. Being a community of optimists – many of us take on mindset and behaviour change as a matter of course as we are exposed to new issues. While we may lead by example, we might also think about what it takes to nudge or inspire behaviour change by others in our communities via some of the other actions below.
Individual Action
Taking action around an issue you’ve become passionate about via OpenIDEO is the next step. How might you commit to personal actions which have impact in your own communities? We’ve had reports of OpenIDEO members registering to donate bone marrow and joining their local farmers' market committee. These actions build upon mindset and behaviour change to consider how individual actions might help others.
Community Action
Extending from changes in outlook, behaviour and personal pursuits are actions which reach out and enable our own communities – and of course, this is where things get really social! These actions may make use of local networks, events and other ways of connecting to take ideas from our online conversations into the real world. They often trigger a series of onwards actions by others, spreading impact along the way. 
Alternatively, groups might form directly during a challenge and the creation of an idea. For example, we’ve heard from OpenIDEO collaborators in Colombia taking forward their concept from our Maternal Health and Mobile Technology Challenge. They prototyped an outreach ultrasound program which they tested in a low-income community in Argentina and even shared an inspiring video to let us all know what they did, achieved and learned. Some of us might consider prototyping just one aspect of a idea if an entire idea seems like too much to take on – the important part is trying things out with real people and learning through making impact as we go.
Elsewhere we’ve had a group of collaborators join forces which led to the launch of the Made in Lower East Side (miLES) initiative, emerging from our Vibrant Cities challenge. miLES aims to open underused storefronts to new possibilities. By working with local residents, artists, businesses and landlords, the initiative seeks to fill underused storefronts and turn them into vibrant community hubs for working, learning, connecting and starting up new projects.
Institutional Action
Organisations, such as our various challenge sponsors, have the potential to work at scale as they push ideas generated by our community forward. Implementation can often take time due to the co-ordination required to maximise impact. On the back of our Amnesty Challenge which sought to protect those under unlawful detention, IDEO London held an Make-a-thon at which a selection of ideas from the challenge were collaboratively prototyped. From there, Amnesty field tested the Panic Button app on the ground in Kenya and expect to launch it to support human rights defenders later in 2013.
With ample avenues for social impact, only one question remains:
How will you be part of the journey?
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Dealing with Ebola all comes down to this... these are human beings that are in desperate need of help. There is a danger in giving help to anyone but especially this kind of hideous disease. Practical teaching of WHY it happens to those in the zone of greatest risk... is extremely important... but remember these who are dying are their loved ones. Outside doctors or military are NOT going to be their first call for help, they will do what all people do for their loved ones try to help them, even though they are not thinking straight as to harming themselves or others. An additional layer here is that we are trying to educate a low level educational base of people who trust their tribal group rather than outsiders. So, the more heavy handed we (the helpers) the more resistant they will become and not believe or take action the way WE perceive to be the BEST SOLUTION. Most of these simple people are fatalists in addition, as they believe that either God has sent this disease to them and they are suppose to die from it, or maybe it is in punishment for the way they have lived their lives. These are all factors, I have run into with boots on the ground in areas of Africa that still maintain a very strong tribal group mentality and alignment. For example, I was told in South Sudan, while there were still northern Sudan troops in the area, that I could not go outside my hotel without an escort of my friend. Why I asked, I thought, I can take care of myself. He said, no, because his tribal customs are that if he brings in an outsider and for some reason, that outsider get hurt or killed, then the tribe because he was responsible will have to take his life as well. So, you see, we cannot just slap on our western views on top of our solutions to Ebola, as they will NOT work or have the result that we intend. These and other very subtle mistakes are made by especially Americans who live with the concept that we in America have it all and all right attitude. In reality as I have traveled the world and seen many cultures, that we have it ok in America, but far from perfection... perfection within our own limitations and culture, but hardly transportable or transferable to other cultures. Just as my niece who culturally translates blog information from English to European French, Italian, and German, she must translate and then adjust to the cultural aspect of the translation as our language is based on relational understanding and what we know and culturally understand are not the same points in other language groups and must have someone recognize and ad the adjustment to the communication package not just simply translate the words, but the concepts as well.

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uh...good to know. individual action is centered position. I realize a focus on interdependence. can social impact depend necessarily on the individual leads?

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It's awesome when you see complementary thinking on ideas like social impact. You all might be interested in Animating Democracy's Continuum of Impact, which actually articulates this idea in relation to the social impact of the arts and culture:

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Yes: individual action leads to authentic transformation. To this end, I find that the critical leadership question remains... What does it mean to help the individual realize their potential for leadership through their practice of collaborative innovation...