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Tips for Collaboration & Feedback

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Karolle Rabarison is our volunteer Women's Safety Challenge Community Champion. Check out her handy tips and words of encouragement throughout the challenge.

Let’s talk about how to collaborate as we continue to build solutions. We will work together to strengthen the selected ideas, supporting them to sharpen the strategy and next steps and to achieve greater impact in communities around the world.


One of the simplest, and most effective, ways to spark collaboration is to ask questions. Here are three types for us to focus on:

Questions about our own ideas. Let’s consider the areas where our own ideas would most benefit from refinement, and share those gaps, challenges, assumptions, or other don’t-yet-know’s to the rest of the community (regardless of whether your contribution in the Ideas phase moves to the selected list for Refinement phase). Communicating specific asks enables others to offer their expertise and connect you to the right resources or work out a solution together. 

Questions to nudge others’ ideas. Let’s support others to communicate their specific asks. One way is for us to ask smart, pointed questions about the ideas we’re excited about (or for that matter, the ones we’re doubtful of!). These questions may ask for clarifying points or challenge assumptions, for starters. Let’s apply our own expertise to identify where the gaps might be, then work with the team on problem solving. A couple of recent interactions on Kavita Gonsalves’s idea from the Women's Safety Challenge illustrate this well: see this question from Avi Solomon and one sub-thread from yours truly.

Will you add me to your team? Yes, you can ask! Find an idea really exciting and want to get even more involved? Consider taking your contribution beyond the comments thread and take part in the team’s current activities, be that developing a survey for community mapping, collecting success stories from relevant organizations, or creating the prototype of an SMS-based tool.

Going even further, you could also run focus groups and prototyping with your off-platform community and share your insights with the team on OpenIDEO.



Once upon a time, I organized a leadership development program at a middle school in Greenville, SC. Naturally, one of the sessions was around teamwork and collaboration. We did an exercise – with newspaper hats! – that illustrated a way to hear out different voices in a group when it’s time to sharpen our thinking and ideas. (I recently found out that this approach is a thing with a capitalized-letters-term for it:  Six Thinking Hats.)

Here’s the lowdown on how we can apply it here on OpenIDEO.

Your hats, ma’am and sir.

Pick a hat, and tells us about it. 
Have each of your team members wear a different hat and discuss with the rest of the team what they learned in the process. Then – update your post with the outcomes and a bit about the process, keeping the community in the loop so that we know how best to support you next.
Diversify your comments and contributions. Browsing through others’ ideas and giving feedback, let’s try on different hats yourself. Wear yellow today, blue on Friday, etc.

Be tough on problems and assumptions, not on people. Just because we’re wearing white or black at the moment doesn’t mean we have to withhold words of encouragement. Let’s keep cheering for each other – and let’s use the “Applaud” feature to show you appreciate someone’s contribution.

After all,  human-centered design is all about  people. 

In the words of’s Matt Taylor:

It’s rooted in people: At the core of human-centered design is a fundamental belief that solutions need to be deeply immersed in and inspired by people’s needs, interests, aspirations, and context. Putting people at the center of my work reminds me why I’m here every single day. It also keeps me asking myself and those around to do more.

If you have other tips and tricks for collaboration, please do share in the comments!
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Community Champions , Women's Safety Challenge

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This is a very interesting idea.