3 Community-Driven Insights on Collaborative Innovation

Reflecting on five virtual conversations that challenged our global community to envision why we gather, and how we might gather for good

Growing Our Gathering Power

At OpenIDEO, we’ve been working to expand, connect, and empower our global community in deeper ways. We’ve seen that fostering inclusive spaces for passionate, diverse people to come together unlocks the power of creativity.

We started by bringing together a small group of diverse, committed OpenIDEO community volunteer leaders from around the globe at Gather—a weeklong community summit to think about how we might bring more impact to OpenIDEO initiatives in the year ahead. We were inspired to see that creating intentional moments to share courageously about struggles, celebrate successes, and deepen real human connection can fuel the challenging but meaningful work our community is doing around the globe.

Soon after, Gather participants and OpenIDEO team members began exploring ways to continue the big conversations that surfaced at Gather. Together, we synthesized insights and developed key opportunity areas to explore with the entire OpenIDEO community.

Considering these opportunity areas, we collaboratively identified specific pain points and scoped ‘How Might We’ statements so a broader group of community members could ideate and share insights on the topics. Take a look at these 15 pain points and guiding questions in the Digital Gather deck shared HERE.

With these opportunity areas and guiding questions in mind, we then invited our entire community to collaborate virtually during five unique design sessions: the Digital Gather Experience.

Over 270 community members that represented Chapter Organizers, Community Coaches, Community Fellows, Community Prototypers, Funders, Community Leaders, and Chapter participants from every continent (minus Antarctica) signed up to listen, ideate, collaborate, and explore these topics together.  

A snapshot of our global community during our digital design sessions.

Three Insights & Questions To Explore

Though each topic was discussed from a wide range of perspectives, there were three ingredients for impact we kept hearing. We hope these this might spark more questions, conversations, and activities to move our work forward.

Start with humanity—Often in impact work, we feel a sense of urgency and want to jump straight into action. When we instead start by sharing what makes us human, how we are feeling, and what’s going on in our life right now, we get to connect in deeper ways that lay the foundation for different types of collaboration.

Questions that surfaced:

  1. How might we create spaces where people feel safe?
  2. How might we build a common language that crosses boundaries and allows people to meaningfully participate?
  3. What rituals can we create to make connecting a habit?  

Move to action and collaborate—Once we have a foundation of trust, shared language, and a vision, make the move to stop talking and start doing. Set small goals and celebrate both the wins and learning moments.

Questions that surfaced:

  1. What are small things your team can do immediately to help you track and share learnings together?
  2. How might we divide and conquer to lighten the workload?
  3. How might we make leadership more about the number of people we empower rather than the amount of power one person holds?

Think big—It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Now that we've started working together, stay connected to a bigger vision and keep moving forward. If we want to change systemic problems, our work should support long-term action and growth.

 Questions that surfaced:

  1. How might we define a clear vision for leaders to align with, get excited about, and articulate out to others?
  2. How might we set the right goals? Research shows we can go further when we have a big, achievable and unifying goal, but we slow down as we get closer to our goal. To help when things get tough, we recommend going back to the foundational human elements that brought your team together around the problems you’re addressing.  

Want To Get Involved?

The core theme that came up in all five Digital Gatherings was a deep desire to collaborate and support each other as we tackle topics around global health, sustainability, and equity and inclusion. Here are three ways we’d love to keep the collaborations going:

  • Join a Chapter Near You—Chapters convene problem solvers in cities worldwide to take local action on global OpenIDEO initiatives.
  • Join an Active Challenge—Our global calls to use open innovation and human-centered design to solve pressing global problems.  
  • Continue the Conversation—Fill out this form to share your interest in volunteering or getting involved in a deeper way.
Let’s continue creating change together.