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Youth Employment Challenge Community Ambassador Update #4

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Shane Zhao is our current volunteer Challenge Community Ambassador. You'll see him popping up across the Youth Employment Challenge with handy tips and words of encouragement – and posting community updates here like a true champion!

It has been quite inspiring to see how our community has been developing their concepts since the beginning of the Ideas phase!  As we move closer towards the upcoming Refinement phase, it is important to consider how we can continue to work together in order to make our ideas more concrete and focused. For this blog post, I've decided to highlight how some of our Ideators have been diving deep to flesh out their concepts in a very systematic way.  

Iterative Collaborations
One of the most beautiful parts of any concept is the iterative process that takes place as we bring an idea closer to realization. In film, we are often captivated by the behind-the-scenes looks at how many shots a cast and crew must undertake to capture one special moment on the big screen. In writing, it is impressive to see the piles of loose-leaf notes that an author would jot down before a final publication. And in design, it is simply beautiful to look at the plethora of napkin sketches and post-it notes that are generated before an idea is brought to fruition. Through continuous trial and error, these iterative processes are powerful in distilling down raw beginnings into concrete realities!
Likewise, within the contexts of the Youth Employment Challenge, it has been inspiring to see the variety of iterative processes that our community has been engaging in to test out their ideas together. For an excellent example, check out how Leigh Cullen has been developing her Pop Up Bus (and Boat) idea by incorporating feedback from Virtual Teammates along every step of the way. On the platform, we were also excited to see how Daniel Kolodiej, Dave Zinsman, and Khin Tye have been making use of visuals and user scenarios to describe how their ideas may play out in real life. In addition, it has also been a treat to see how Penny Mpanza and Ayanna Martin have engaged the online OpenIDEO community to refine their ongoing offline work with the LBOC Fund and Miracle Mile Fund.

Ideators at Work
This week, to share a behind the scenes look at how our community has been developing their ideas, I've connected with several of our ideators to gain a more intimate understanding of their work on the platform. Gavin Cosgrave, Khin Tye, and Dave Zinsman have been fantastic in engaging with the OpenIDEO community to push forward their concepts. Let us take a look at some of their thoughts on what they have gained from the iterative process so far, and at how they will hope to refine their ideas further.

Share with us a behind the scenes look at the making of your idea. What are some less obvious thoughts or processes that are not included in the content of your Idea?
  • Khin: My Co-creating the Future idea is based on viewing the young person as whole and capable of fully giving her/his best first and foremost. Hence the creation of future scenarios and tasks to inspire and motivate. Often we create programmes based on 'the lack of' and with a scarcity mode of thinking that can reinforce limitations in the young people. So, instead of filling in the gaps, let's start with there are no gaps, and ask "what can the young person do?"
  • Dave: When I put an idea out there, I generally put out an actual product proposal. I prefer to show you a wristwatch instead of explaining to you that I'm going to make something that tells the time of day. The processes that precede that are basic research, market analysis, and connecting with users.

What have you found to be the most helpful in further developing your idea? (Feedback from the OpenIDEO community, online research, offline brainstorms, prototyping with real people, and more?)
  • Gavin: At the ideas stage in the process, online feedback and conversations have been extremely valuable. All "new ideas" are really just connections between previous ideas, so it's important to learn about programs and people that are already working on this problem. I'm looking forward to making the ideas more tangible with the help of the community.
  • Khin: Meena was most helpful in providing examples from other challenges and the Forum for the Future future scenario building toolkit. She is constructive in her feedback and very helpful, especially for pointing out what can be improved to help the reader understand my idea.

How have you been applying early iterative refinements to make your idea more concrete and specific?
  • Dave: I like to draw a basic user journey map to figure out how users could experience the actual product, and how touch points might deliver value. It’s also a good way to do a reality check regarding exactly how the product may solve a user’s pain point (desirability); cost of production (feasibility); and the potential upside (viability). These things help me put together frameworks to identify product design options, so that I can make choices that deliver maximum value to the end user and a high internal rate of return for the enterprise/investors--in short making the product actionable.
  • Gavin: Your idea will inevitably change as you discover potential opportunities and problems. You don't need to know everything to get started. Almost all successful ideas will involve you talking to people who are more involved in that area than you are. The encouragement and engagement from the community has given me confidence to continue developing a real-life plan. 

It has been exciting to see how we have progressed in distilling down our initial thought starters into concrete ideas. As we enter into the next phase of the Youth Employment Challenge, let us rev up our collective efforts to further refine our concepts with more visuals, user journeys, real life prototypes, and other tools for further iteration. We will look forward to how we can bring our ideas closer to impact in the upcoming weeks!

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Community Champions , Youth Employment Challenge 2


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