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Synthesizing the Bone Marrow Challenge

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Often we hear from OpenIDEO community members who wonder what happens behind-the-scenes during a challenge. Whether it’s how we pick themes for Concepting to how much influence the community has during Evaluation – you name it, you’ve asked us!


Last week our Bone Marrow Donation Challenge transitioned from Inspiration to Concepting, and similar to our post about synthesizing the Maternal Health + Mobile Technology Challenge, we thought we’d take a moment to show you what happens right before a challenge moves into this next phase.


In between Inspiration and Concepting, the OpenIDEO team gets together for Synthesis, which is our chance to take a step back, review the community’s progress thus far, and figure out how best to move forward into the Concepting phase.


We assembled a great group for the Bone Marrow Donation Challenge synthesis meeting, including Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker; Haas Center communications director Katie Pfeiffer; and 100k Cheeks student leaders Vineet Singal and Sara Lannin. We also recruited the help of a few IDEO folks who have unique and helpful perspectives on health, marketing, and community building.

To prepare for the meeting, Nathan, Ashley and Katie took stock of the 345 Inspirations and started thinking about the common themes that arose during the Inspiration phase. 

Then, once the rest of the group arrived, the fun really started!


With Inspirations, post-its and Sharpie markers flying, the team developed the 5 themes you now find in the Concepting phase.


Enrich the Mix

Motivate + Reward

Make it Easy

Demystify + Educate

Connect + Network


It was an energizing and inspiring day of discussion, and we can hardly wait to see what you will come up with during Concepting!


As a fun aside, we were so motivated to do our own part that last week that we also hosted our own bone marrow registry drive at the IDEO Palo Alto office! Here Beau takes his first step toward potentially saving a life through bone marrow donation:

Cheers for all your great contributions to our Bone Marrow Donation Challenge, and hope to see you during the Concepting phase!


The OpenIDEO Team

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Bone Marrow Challenge


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Sounds like fun ;) Thanks for your reply, Ashley!

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