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How it works

At OpenIDEO, people from all corners of the world collaboratively tackle some of the toughest global issues. No matter who you are,  your experiences will bring a unique perspective to our conversation and  idea development. Sign up to start collaborating and read on to learn more about how to participate.


We tackle each social issue via a challenge, a three to five month collaborative process that focuses our attention on the topic and creates a space for community members to contribute and build off each other. This approach is modeled on IDEO's design thinking methodology.

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  • RESEARCH: It all starts with an invitation for you and others around the world to share inspirations, stories, tools and successful examples on the challenge topic.

  • IDEAS: Based on learnings from the Research phase, the OpenIDEO community shares new, wild or existing ideas and collaboratively refines them.

  • REFINEMENT: We then focus on testing ideas with end users.

  • FEEDBACK: This is when the OpenIDEO community  shares comments and suggestions for next steps.

  • TOP IDEAS: Working closely with the challenge sponsor, the OpenIDEO team chooses a set of top ideas based on their potential for impact, level of engagement and relevance to the challenge topic and evaluation criteria. 

  • IMPACT: This is where you can  share learnings,  find collaborators and share updates on how ideas are evolving.


CONVENE: Get together with friends and members of your network to discuss the current challenge topic.  Make it an informal gathering, join an existing OpenIDEO Chapter or apply to start your own by launching an Outpost.

LEARN: There’s tons of knowledge to gain from our community’s diverse perspectives and from our challenge process. Dive into topics like health, poverty alleviation, the environment and community empowerment in ways you never have before.

SHARE: Share stories, interviews, tools, or articles that shed light on the topic.

COLLABORATE: Whether you’re looking for collaborators for a project, want to mentor an idea or simply want to connect with an interesting individual or organization, leave a comment and start a conversation.

CREATE: Go for quantity, go wild and defer judgement when adding ideas to a challenge – ideas can be new  or ones you’ve been working on for a while. You can also lend your experience and join a team working on an existing idea. If we don’t have an active Ideas phase, check out concepts from past challenges for inspiration.

EXPERIMENT: Get your idea in front of real people. Don’t be afraid of role playing or building a cardboard product. Learning from potential end users is the one thing that makes ideas evolve into life-changing initiatives. 

Get feedback, incorporate it and keep on learning and experimenting as you continue to implement your idea.