The current way challenges are set up is a pretty reasonable one. Someone with the organisation and resources to execute wants to find a clever, creative way of doing something. The search for the answer gets crowdsourced.
However, this approach misses out on ideas and solutions that could have come from other starting points. Consider it this way – a successful project can be seen as having five main components:
- A question – figuring out the right way to see a particular issue is often not as trivial as it seems;
- Technologies/tools/ways of doing things that can be used in the solution of a particular challenge
- The idea – the way to apply a combination of the tools in (2) to some area of interest.
- The organisation to implement the idea.
- Funding for the operation of the organisation.
The current approach is a case of a group having 4, 5, and 1 figured out and looking for 3 (and implicitly 2). But a successful project can begin from any of these points.
- Someone may have great insight into the cause of a particular problem, but is unable to figure out the solution, and does not really know what to do about it.
- Someone may have come up with or come across some really great ideas that should be shared with others, but does not yet have any specific applications for them in mind (while others may have a solution but think the components they have in mind for it don’t exist yet).
- Someone may have a great idea, but be unsure about how to set up an organisation to execute it, or need funds to prototype it.
- An established organisation is searching for innovative ideas (what OpenIDEO most directly addresses today) or extra funding.
- People care enough about a particular issue to want to give money to address it, but cannot easily find any interesting projects to address it.
Of course 4 and 5 (organisation and funding) are by far the most limiting factors in the process – there are far more interesting ideas than there is money and scope for executing them, so it makes sense for the main challenge process to remain set up the way it presently is. However, it should be expanded to cover the other points.
1 and 2 could be covered by the submission of brief descriptions – almost digital post-its. It would almost be like the contributions to the Inspiration phase of a challenge without a particular challenge to inspire.
3, again, would be concepting without a challenge, with even more focus on using the community to identify and ‘push up’ the best ideas posted, perhaps to a featured ‘concept of the month’ status that interested organisations could then browse and request to adapt to their needs.
4 is good the way it is.
5 can also have members indicating their fields in interest, stating something to the effect of “In the fields of A, B, and C I would be willing to contribute up to $X in funding per project, up to a maximum of $Y for all projects per year.” A lot of interesting, socially beneficial endeavours could be crowdfunded this way, as well as giving people an idea about the areas about which people are most passionate about, and for which the greatest amount of funding exists.