OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

The eXchange - A platform for different generations to trade experience, expertise & abilities

Each generation has unique points of view, talents and needs. As we age, how might we leverage our gained wisdom and varying abilities to help other generations? the eXchange is a platform where different generations help each other in different ways

Photo of Nick Dawson
59 47

Written by

the eXchange is a social platform where different generations pose and respond to challenges from other generations. This idea builds upon inspirations which promoted empathy for the elderly, connections to sense memory and the exchange of expertise. 

Need tips for dressing for a job interview?  Get tips from someone older and wiser. 
Need to get to the doctor, but don't have a ride? It might be on the way for someone younger who can take you. 

As Christopher illustrates: 
Example: John the retired engineer has been making furniture in his workshop for the past 20 years. John can offer: advice on engineering, how to use hand tools, how to use power tools.
John needs: help unloading wood from the lumberyard
3 people are interested and provide times: John can select the most convenient time offered. 

Rachel's idea of a senior knowledge bank highlights an example of aiding through expertise: 
The idea is to create an online searchable and interactive database using simple library search/community forum type technology to allow seniors to input information-- both written testimonials of various experiences and topics or simply "specialties" and contact info-- that is then searchable by anyone who needs that specific information.

Rewarding helpers: Users can post challenges, or questions and rewarded for collaborating on meeting the challenges and answering questions, particularly when their cross-generational abilities and perspectives are an asset. For instance, a younger person providing a ride  gains points for helping complete the challenge. An older person sharing expertise, or their own abilities would also gain points. As Meena points out, the OpenIDEO DQ system is an ideal model. 

While a point system provides a satisfying visual reward, the fundamental incentive is based on unleashing small feel good moments for everyone. Sharing expertise and helping someone with a challenge trigger the same sense of rewarding satisfaction. the eXchange allows people of all ages and abilities to share in those feelings by trading on the different abilities and experiences each generation brings to the table. 

Users assume one of two different roles: sage and grasshopper. Regardless of age or generation, a user is a sage when they provide wisdom or pose a challenge. For example, an octogenarian may respond to a twenty-something's request for help on cooking. The octogenarian is the sage. A grasshopper, on the other hand, is someone who provides assistance, or helps complete a challenge. For example, a retiree may ask someone traveling to China to video the steps of the Great Wall. If a student traveler completes the request, they are the grasshopper. 

Discoverability and Categories:
  • food & cooking
  • health & wellness
  • technology
  • travel
  • odd jobs
  • transportation
  • memory recall
  • research assistance
  • experience
  • "I remember when…"
  • Mechanical know how

Triggers may include:
  • date / time - I need help on Saturday at noon | I'm available on Sunday from 1-3p
  • geo-location (smart phone) - I'd like someone to pick up my meds at 1234 Main Street | I'll be in Chicago, who can I help while there?
  • Online vs Real World - I could use a hand with shopping on Amazon | I can come to your house

From the early draft / ideas for future iterations (version 2.0)
Entire experiences could be shared:
For instance, if you are traveling, your phone's GPS can alert you to a challenge near by. Perhaps someone older wants a video of a local attraction, or even a live Skype call from that place? Maybe you can use your Google Glass to let them experience the place first hand.
Another area of discoverability might include sorting by area of expertise or wisdom. An retiree may still wish to share their accumulated professional and personal skills. They could search the system based on tags and categories. 

How might your idea scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

While the core of the idea is an online platform, it would also include the role of proxies. Caregivers of less-tech-savvy elderly could post challenges, questions and wisdom on behalf of their elder companion. The system could also be accessible from community centers and libraries for those without online access at home or via a mobile device. updates: A paper-based inventory of skills, expertise and needs could be used by home health aids and caregivers to help bridge the digital and real world; particularly for those without internet access or tech savvy.

How might your idea attract and involve partners from health care, business, government, nonprofit or other sectors?

Healthcare organizations and other entities could serve as sponsored and sponsoring users. They could post questions and contribute answers. For instance, a medical device manufacture may be designing a new product and may want to know how their target audience deals with certain challenges. A "grasshopper" could sign up to take photos and videos of an older "sage" to help the device company. Similarly, a hospital or physician may chime in on a challenge or question with their own professional expertise. Update: The PACE model may offer an additional avenue. PACE is a medicare program where organizations agree to provide comprehensive care for seniors for a fixed rate. A cornerstone of most PACE programs is a modern center where seniors come for the day and have access to a wide range of arts, health, beauty, and fitness programs. PACE centers could serve as a hub for the program where seniors identify areas of expertise and ability. The PACE centers could then invite in younger generations and help then identify their own areas of expertise and ability, and then match up pairs accordingly. Area aging boards, like the Jefferson Area Board or Aging in Virginia, may serve a similar hubs: updates: The system could be deployed in hospitals and rehab centers using touch screen tablets and in-house systems. Patients could identify areas where they expect to need help base don their diagnosis and prognosis. They may also wish to serve as sages after their experience, sharing recovery and health tips with others. (EG joint replacement surgery - patients become experts after completing the process)

How might you design an early experiment or prototype to further develop your idea?

A "sneaker net" version is an easy prototype. We might begin by asking different generations around us what challenges and expertise they have. This might be an ideal way to test the matching system in a PACE center. We could start with providing a quasi-structured format for the exchange of expertise, mobility and wisdom. Perhaps a paper document. For instance, my grandmother may have a list of needs, but I may not be able to fulfill them all. Having a document to help structure the list based on area of expertise or geography might help us sort through what I can help with versus someone else. The inverse could be true as I list areas I may have questions about. A older relative may not be able to tell me how to write a mobile app, but they might know how to teach me to bake bread. The paper simulation would provide insight into the process and its rewards.

Evaluation results

12 evaluations so far

1. How well does this idea enable people to maintain wellbeing and thrive as they age?

Really well. There's clear value in this idea for people of all ages - 66.7%

This idea is getting there but the connection to healthy ageing isn't quite clear - 33.3%

Not so well – there were other ideas that provide more real value for people as they age - 0%

2. Does this idea outline a clear mechanism or strategy that would enable it to scale and spread around the world?

Yep – it's really clear how this idea would get diffused and adopted by people from all over - 50%

Seems like the mechanism for diffusion still needs some fleshing out - 50%

No, it doesn't really look like it takes scale and spread into account. - 0%

3. How attractive is this idea for partners from health care, business, government, nonprofit or other sectors to get involved?

This idea is ready for partnership! It's easy to see how and why different sectors would want to get involved - 33.3%

There's some opportunity for partners here but it would need more refinement to really attract other organisations or people - 66.7%

It's not clear to me how or why partners would be motivated to get involved - 0%

4. How easy would it be to pilot an early version of this idea for continued iteration and learning?

Really easy – ways that we might test this idea in a pilot are already springing to mind - 41.7%

A pilot would be doable – but we'd need to spend quite a bit of time to figure out how to do it - 58.3%

An early pilot doesn't seem too easy at this point - 0%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

It rocked my world - 41.7%

I liked it but preferred others - 58.3%

It didn't get me so excited - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of OpenIDEO

We're excited that many OpenIDEO collaborators on this challenge have been talking about prototyping their ideas going forward. Awesome! If you take things further, be sure to let us know at key milestones via our Share Your Story feature: so we might help celebrate your progress and inspire others to transform ideas into action and social impact.

View all comments