Reviewed June 2014
Yvette Cortes, Fine Arts Librarian
Lucy Scribner Library, Skidmore College

OpenIDEO’s motto is “Where people design better, together.” OpenIDEO is an online offshoot of IDEO, a global design firm that takes a human-centered, design-based approach to helping organizations in the public and private sectors innovate and grow. OpenIDEO aims to create design solutions for real life social issues in a collaborative online environment. They hope to generate ideas for the greater good. They believe that innovation requires collaboration and that technology can facilitate teamwork across great distances. IDEO designers are constantly looking for emerging technologies and methods that will work well with its existing tools and approach.

OpenIDEO_1The website, launched in July 2010, provides an open platform for innovation where designers and other creative thinkers can create together.Its goal is to encourage collaboration and a visual approach in order to overcome diverse challenges. Contributions from users are used to help find creative solutions to some of the problems faced by modern society. Unlike other crowdsourcing websites, OpenIDEO uses the power of the crowd to work towards creative solutions to real world problems.

OpenIDEO_2Every challenge starts with a question posed by OpenIDEO and their challenge sponsor. Current challenges include“How might we establish better recycling habits at home?”, “How might we inspire young people to cultivate their creative confidence?”, and “How might we restore vibrancy in cities and regions facing economic decline?” Organizations or individuals can sponsor a design challenge, as long as it’s for social or environmental good. Corporate sponsors include Coca-Cola, Amnesty International, and Steelcase.

In the Challenges section, you can view all the different projects currently under consideration. When you click on a challenge, you’re provided with a Challenge Brief and video. You can check out how the global community is contributing and the impact so far. There is a bar which shows which stage the challenge is in: Research, Ideas, Applause, Refinement, Evaluation, and Winners.

Everyone contributing to OpenIDEO helps select the best ideas. In the early phases, you endorse a project by “applauding” it. In the evaluation phase, users get the chance to rate concepts according to specific criteria. On pages with a research or idea, you will find links to discussion from other users, statistics about the post (and links where you can applaud or bookmark it), related posts, and a link to share the page on social media sites. All concepts are shareable, remixable and reusable by anyone. The hope is that some of these concepts will come to fruition in the real world.

OpenIDEO engages a community of over 50,000 users from more than 160 countries to solve the challenges. Community members can contribute in a variety of different ways, from commentary and photos, sketches of ideas, to business models. OpenIDEO welcomes all creative thinkers to participate, not just designers. Participants can contribute in a variety of ways such as providing feedback on research or contributing concepts.

OpenIDEO is a well-designed, interactive website that is easy to navigate. OpenIDEO is recommended for students and faculty interested in design, civic engagement, sustainability, entrepreneurship, and social innovation.