Your Little Ideas Make Big Differences With Open IDEO's Revolutionary Design Model (Video)

nathan waterhouse photo

Nathan Waterhouse at Compostmodern, discussing how collaborative effort, rather than financial incentives, is the way to come up with solutions for a problem. Photo by Jaymi Heimbuch

The design company IDEO, which we've been following with admiration since 2006, has developed a new method for collaborative design. It allows anyone to participate in crafting the best possible product, from conception to production. Nathan Waterhouse, the lead at Open IDEO, presented the site at this year's Compostmodern conference in San Francisco, CA. Working with causes such as Jamie Oliver's push to design a solution to get kids to eat more healthily to the issues of sanitation in underdeveloped places, the platform encourages everyone to get involved, even if that means providing 10 seconds or 10 hours of input. It means that your ideas can play a big role in changing the world. Open IDEO is, simply put, a brilliant concept. New challenges are presented on the website and anyone can get involved by providing inspiration ideas. The best ideas move on to the following phases of development. Along the way, community members can get as involved as they want -- from taking two seconds to "applaud" an idea to show support, to commenting, to evaluating, to building on the idea, to presenting an entirely new concept.

The "featured channel" is called Open Planet Ideas, and it is asking the question "How can today's technology address the environmental challenges we're all facing?" The featured challenge is centered around solving: How might we improve maternal health with mobile technologies for low-income countries? The range of ideas is broad, and the challenges they present might seem daunting, until you realize that thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of people can put their heads together to solve them.

Introduction to OpenIDEO / from IDEO on Vimeo.

Open IDEO runs on five basic principles:

Principle #1: Inclusive
Recognize and enable all levels of participation from different disciplines. It's about allowing anyone to contribute to the creative process. Whether it's a great insight, a beautiful sketch, an encouraging build, or a few words of praise, the platform allows everyone to take part in and feel as if they are a part of the process.

Principle #2: Community-centered
Remember the core strengths of the community and play to them. OpenIDEO is meant to foster a strong, vibrant, lively community that thrives on inspiration -- and that we all trust will make a difference. Focusing on this community and its activities is essential.

Principle #3: Collaborative
Promote teamwork among individuals and teams by recognizing the many roles that are crucial to each step of the design process. Always choose collaboration over competition, and create an atmosphere for building on one another's ideas.

Principle #4: Optimistic
Stay optimistic! You never know when a wild idea might enable others to get closer to a viable solution.

Principle #5: Always in Beta
Design for continuous improvement and iteration and scale deliberately. That goes for the community, the platform, and these principles. To this end, please email your suggestions for making OpenIDEO better.

Overall, the platform encourages us to think about what contributions can do for the individual, and more for what they can do for the collective good. This model of design is a wonderful platform for sustainability. As Waterhouse pointed out, today we are hyperaware of global problems, and collectively we are embracing the issue of sustainability and coming up with solutions. Open IDEO seems like the perfect place to start presenting problems and building off of one another's ideas to create real change.

Follow Jaymi on Twitter for more stories like this
More on Collaborative Design
DreamingreeN: An Open Source, Online Community for Green Design
Can Sustainable Design Inspire Behavioral Changes?
The Betacup: Eliminating Paper Cup Wastage Through Collaborative Design

Your Little Ideas Make Big Differences With Open IDEO's Revolutionary Design Model (Video)
The design company IDEO, which we've been following with admiration

Related Content on