OpenIDEO Brings Crowdsourced Creative Solutions to Solve Social Challenges

OpenIDEO brings solutions to big challenges around the world by connecting sponsoring organizations with crowdsourced solutions from its community members

OpenIDEO was founded five years ago as a crowdsourcing platform that brings together a community of collaborators from across the world to develop solutions that strive to solve social challenges. These solutions are implemented and funded by different organizations that OpenIDEO partners with to bring the winning solutions to reality and create impact.

The Process

  1. Challenge Start: A challenge is posted by OpenIDEO on the website for community members to collaborate and add ideas across five different stages: research, ideas, feedback, refinement, and final feedback. Each stage has a specific deadline that is added to the challenge’s page to clearly communicate the amount of time left for contributions and the start and end dates of each stage. For example, during the research process, members can add content through sharing their own story, adding a new perspective, interviewing someone, crunching numbers, highlighting success stories, or creating a new idea altogether.
  2. Adding Ideas: Members add their contributions in one or all of the different stages of idea development.
  3. Providing Feedback: Members of the community review each others’ ideas, provide feedback to improve or build on the idea, and applause the ideas they think will have the greatest impact or success.
  4. Selecting Winning Ideas: At each stage, the ideas that have the highest number of votes moves on to the next stage.
  5. Creating Impact: The final winning idea is available for organizations to implement and bring into reality along with the support of the community.

Creating Value

OpenIDEO creates value by bringing together organizations that support different causes with community members who are passionate about innovation, creativity, creating social impact, and customer-centric design. This ensures that an ecosystem that supports various social causes, such as climate change, refugee education, women empowerment, and renewable energy, is built. Additionally, this ecosystem solves these problems by bringing together 80,000 creative minds from different countries that have submitted around 6,500 ideas to solve 29 different challenges over the past five years. Additionally, the platform provides various resources to help members learn about the design thinking process, such as how to build a team, engage offline, gather insights through interviews, brainstorm ideas, and build prototypes.

Ensuring Contribution

The platform attracts community members that are passionate about the design thinking process and creating impact to solve big challenges in the world. To motivate members to continue to collaborate across various stages of a challenge and across different challenges, OpenIDEO created a design quotient (DQ) score for each community member. This score shows the member’s contribution to the platform for each of the different stages and increases with every idea generated or comment posted to provide feedback to other members. The DQ serves as a badge that members can use to prove their expertise as innovators and designers.


The platform could face challenges related to the level of contribution in each challenge, the continued contribution of members that have a low DQ, and the adoption and implementation of ideas by organizations that care about the challenge being solved. Although the platform had many contributions from around 900 teams over the past five years, it is no guarantee that the ideas of the people most passionate about the cause are being heard. To solve this, the platform keeps challenges broad to ensure that each community member thinks about the problem from a different angle that triggers their collaboration. As for community members with a low DQ, the platform offers members the option to either publicize their score or keep it private, which helps members with a low DQ to keep it private until it is high enough to share if they would like to. Finally, the platform ensures that a sponsor organization is initially interested in a challenge and lists it as the sponsoring organization for a challenge. However, this could limit the potential to solve social problems and limits the ability of the community to be creative about any challenges they would like to solve.

Growth Potential

The platform has been thus far successful in having a large community member base as well as reputable sponsoring organizations. This enabled OpenIDEO to have solutions to multiple challenges and create impact through implementing those solutions through sponsoring organizations. By having a track record of bringing workable solutions, the platform will continue to succeed at creating partnerships with key organizations, which will attract community members that want their ideas to be implemented and add value to the world.


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Student comments on OpenIDEO Brings Crowdsourced Creative Solutions to Solve Social Challenges

  1. Thank you for writing about OpenIDEO! I think it is so fascinating how they have managed to create a process that captures the value of the crowd, but leveraging what is a community – not a crowd of loosely related people who might share only a few skills or an interest in an area. Being able to leverage communities for innovation can both increase the speed of change and the quality of the new resources being created because the community feels vested in solving the issues and understands that a quality outcome translates into a victory for the community as a whole.

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