IDEO is a fairly well known design (as in industrial and human interface, not planning) firm. Recently they rolled out OpenIDEO, which is “a place where people design better, together for social good.” It is a platform for the structured, but open discussion of complex problems. I really like this interface and concept and it is something we’ve been trying to tackle with a different approach through Brainstorm Anywhere. They also did a great job of framing a good brainstorming approach, which is something we do a lot of in our own work. I also really like the principles of OpenIDEO:
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.
I like these a lot because they are generally good principles for community planning and design as well and articulate the PlaceMatters approach. Even though IDEO is a design and innovation firm, the way of thinking about good design of interfaces, products, and websites is not really much different from the way we should think about good community design (which planning should ultimately be about).
I’m excited about seeing new ways to solve old problems, and using the distributed power of networks with well designed interfaces is a real innovation for successful distributed collaboration. Our Brainstorm Anywhere application (currently used solely in our work but coming to beta as soon as I can find the time) is built primarily around synchronous collaboration. In other words, hundreds or thousands of people working simultaneously on establishing a vision and plan for their community in a large meeting. However, we are working on taking that energy back out on the web to help people continue the conversation. The OpenIDEO platform may be the gap filler we need for now until we can work out the asynchronous part of our application. We really believe that good community planning requires convening at least a couple of times. This helps establish trust in the process. We also think that making these platforms less anonymous can help carry trust from real meetings on to the web.
Check out the OpenIDEO challenges and get involved in one that interests you.