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Refinement Phase: The Lowdown

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So you've made a great start with your concept and have made it through to our Refinement Phase. Way to go – but what next? Now it's time to further develop your idea to make it more robust – thinking about viability, barriers and opportunities for implementation plus envisioning what success might look like. Get ready to hit that Update Entry button on the right of your post and iterate your concept even further. Here's some tips so to get your ideating ninja-moves on.
 
(And if you didn't get selected for the Refinement Phase – we still need you! Collaboration loves company so we hope you'll chime in with your feedback and suggestions and be part of developing the shortlisted ideas. Let's refine, together.) 
 
Visualise
Take some time to sketch and map out your thoughts. Consider refining these to share the process behind your concept so that others can easily engage with your thinking. This might include mapping a user journey, mock ups of logos, web pages, app workflows or promotional items or diagrams of devices and business models. You might even have a go at putting a video together. Keep in mind that OpenIDEO is a collaborative platform so feel free to reach out to friends and fellow OpenIDEATORS to help you out. What you decide to share will depend on what suits your idea – but rest assured that getting visual will help you process your thoughts and help others grasp your proposal. More tips.
 
Organise
As your idea grows it's easy for others to lose sight of what's going on. Think about how you might break down your thoughts into digestible chunks – perhaps using headings to clarify different aspects of your concept. Plus you could let folks know that you've updated your idea via editing your post title in some way. And remember – refining is as much about adding more detail as it is about creating clarity. Start with the basics then progress to the particulars to help others keep up with all your ideating goodness.

Something we'd encourage you all to think about is how you might update your Summary section (text above the image gallery) to encapsulate what your idea actually entails briefly and clearly.  Here's a template if you need some help, though feel free to come up with your own clarifying sentence structure:
Our idea is a_________________ [campaign/app/service/program/online platform/toolkit/social enterprise/etc.] that tackles the problem of _____________[the issue being addressed ] by __________[what your idea looks like in practice]. 

See example summaries.
 
Create Scenarios
Ideas are great but often we struggle to figure out how they might play out in the real world. Try sharing a scenario or 3 to help us understand how your concept could be put to use. This usually includes describing fictional users and contexts and explaining your idea through them. You might even have a go at making a video which presents these. Scenarios help you think about how to best meet real user needs – and everyone loves an idea that's human-centered, right?
 
Seek Feedback
We're a chatty bunch at OpenIDEO so take the opportunity to pursue and participate in discussion. Encourage folks by letting them know if you're including their feedback in your refined concept – both by replying to their comments and including them in your OpenIDEO Team. You might also take the time to talk to experts and stakeholders about your idea and including their feedback in your post. We'd especially encourage you to chat with potential end users in your community and share what you learn from them towards iterating your concept. Maybe you'll get inspired by this example where an OpenIDEATOR created a Google Doc and posted it on her Idea page during Refinement to collect input. Let's leverage feedback to strengthen ideas for impact.
 
Prototype
You’ll never know if your idea could have been better if you don’t try things out – plus you'll broaden your perspective along the way, leading to a result that’s richer for the journey. There's always some aspect of your idea which you can give a go with real end users. This is the essence of human-centered design. We've had folks who have gone to great lengths with this – but feel free to try out what you think you can handle, to yield insights which can help iterate and improve your idea. Check out an example of what happened when an OpenIDEO collaborator reached out to her community – and another exciting prototype involving children. These show that it's possible to make social impact even while developing an idea, while providing a wealth of learning as you refine your thinking and approach. Roll up those sleeves and give things a try.  Check out tips and toolkits for running effective prototypes.
 
So now that you're equipped with a great idea and some tips on how to take it further: ready, steady, refine!

Did you share an idea on OpenIDEO which didn't get selected for Refinement? We welcome you to continue to collaborate and develop it further beacuse we believe that social impact can be acheived on many ideas beyond our selections. Check out our tips above (especially on prototyping) and try them out with collaborators on your idea's OpenIDEO Team or those in your own community if you're keen to commit to taking your idea further. You'll be able to share your progress with the OpenIDEO community when we open the Impact phase for our current challenge, some time after winners have been announced.

 

 

 
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Photo of Deborah Beaton

What happens if we missed the post an idea phase - can we still try and collaborate with others on our current ideas?

Photo of luisa covaria

Deborah,
We encourage all members of our community to leverage the power of this platform to continue to collaborate on their ideas or those of others.

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