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IDEO Intern Brainstorm Mashup!

The San Francisco IDEO summer interns have been chomping at the bit to learn more about OpenIDEO and join the conversation around Youth Mentoring, so we got together last week and held a little brainstorm of our own! Key materials included pizza, post-its and the Brainstorm in a Box toolkit, of course.

Photo of Eliza Rosenbaum
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We selected three Opportunity Areas on which to focus, but once we started ideating around the “Twist What Exists” theme, we couldn’t stop! And we found that many of the ideas we generated around this idea of hacking existing spaces, programs and tools also related to the theme of making mentoring more fun. I kept seeing that Ben & Jerry’s bumper sticker in my head - “If it’s not fun, why do it?” - and this playful, lighthearted approach yielded some fantastic ideas. So two tips we have for future brainstormers out there: 1) give yourself some constraints - creativity needs them! - and 2) give yourself permission to play!

We reimagined all kinds of existing spaces that might lend themselves to mentoring and intergenerational connections:

- The airport! How many hours do we all spend waiting and wandering before, during and after our travels? What if there were a common space to meet and mingle with others on their journeys? We all have stories about where we’re going and where we’ve been, and with so much space to play with - and no pressure around having to see each other again - we can make some low-pressure but still meaningful connections if given the opportunity. 
- Relatedly, what if there was a “sit with me!” option on the plane? Passengers could opt in to sitting in a section where they could make connections with other flyers. There could even be a list of icebreaker questions on the back of tray tables!
- Office spaces! Think of all the excellent space that lies fallow after employees go home for the day - and all the companies that would love to lend their name and space to meaningful intergenerational programming. One example of a cool corporate cross-functional space is the Capital One Cafe in San Francisco.
- Other spaces we loved chatting about: culinary schools, dance centers, farmers markets, bars, libraries, school field trips, and even doctor’s offices! And check out the awesome idea Yunxue (Elise) had around hosting older adults for “Saturday University” on college campuses.

We also had a great time brainstorming around existing tools and platforms that could be “repurposed” for intergenerational mentoring - like Megan’s idea of Grouper for mentoring, Sophie’s idea of TaskRabbit for learning and sharing skills, and Guy’s “DinnerSurfer” concept!

We’d love for the OpenIDEO community to run with and build upon any of these preliminary ideas if you’re inspired.   For starters, if you haven't already found it, check out the super helpful  Brainstorm in a Box that I mentioned above.  And here’s a tip for future Meetups out there: at the beginning of our session, we asked everyone create an OpenIDEO profile (it only takes a minute!), and then each participant took ownership of one idea to post online after the session. It empowered everyone to get involved and bridge the gap between the offline action and the online collaboration - two very different but essential pieces of the OpenIDEO magic! 

So, we’d love to know: what new (or existing!) ideas do these early thought-starters spark for you? 


Join the conversation:

Photo of Aaryaman Singhal

I love the sit with me idea! How do we pass this idea on to airlines? Knowing that Southwest really values camaraderie and fun, they might be particularly willing to give this a try.

Photo of Guy Viner

Great suggestion, Aaryaman! Sounds like a great implementation opportunity for this challenge.

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