Q&A: Meet OpenIDEO’s Chapter Organizers

Dive into this Q&A to hear from some of the Chapter Organizers—both new and veteran—about what it's like to be part of this wide-reaching community.

We believe that anyone is capable of using creativity to address a problem. We also know that today’s societal and environmental issues are too big to solve alone. To that end, we’re passionate about bringing together all kinds of people—including eager problem solvers, community builders, innovators, and funders—to take action together on global challenges. 

OpenIDEO Chapters are a powerful example of this collaboration. In more than 30 cities around the world, they tap into the strength of the wider ecosystem by rallying around global efforts through local convenings that take many forms, whether it’s a discussion about the state of our food system, a workshop that aims to build bridges in a divided society, or a celebratory community dinner. As researchers, facilitators of dialogue, and skilled contextualizers, they have the unique ability to bring a local lens to designing solutions that impact their communities, while taking ideas from the OpenIDEO online platform into the world.

Each Chapter is creatively structured to collectively design change and is made up of individuals who bring a diverse range of backgrounds and expertise, whether they include the role of a design expert who skillfully facilitates user research sessions, a community designer who forges critical partnerships, or a storyteller who captures the magic of it all. The teams all operate at different levels and styles, which is part of what makes this global community so rich and diverse.

This quarter, we welcomed new OpenIDEO Chapters in Ankara, Bangkok, Moscow, Paris, Beirut, and Melbourne, bringing forth a new set of volunteer-driven communities who are eager to make an impact in their cities through collaborative design. Dive into the Q&A below to hear from some of the Chapter Organizers—both new and veteran—about what it's like to be part of this wide-reaching community. If you’re interested in getting involved, see the list of active Global Chapters or learn how to start your own in this application resource guide.  

The OpenIDEO team and Chapter Organizers at the IDEO San Francisco Office

How might open innovation create impact in your city?

Ximena Matus (Guatemala City, Guatemala): Guatemala City has lots of areas of opportunity, but they can’t be tackled through a siloed approach. Open innovation allows us to share our successes and risks. More importantly, it opens doors that were once closed and leads to change. We’re starting to see our local government using this approach in partnership with corporations and universities.

Shwetabh S Verma (Bengaluru, India): With Bengaluru being a hotspot for young students and professionals—owing to its education and IT infrastructure—it’s extremely crucial to have communities like OpenIDEO that let us leverage the proactiveness of the city to fuel regional collaboration around major challenges, surfacing local insights to inspire a global conversation. 

Melis Dursun (Ankara, Turkey): When I saw that the OpenIDEO Chapter in Istanbul had been trying to solve the toughest problems of our world, it inspired me to put in my effort too. I believe that creating a social impact is all of our responsibility. There’s a huge potential in Ankara for innovation because everyone is eager to get involved. My hope is that people's perspectives about innovation will change and trigger them to build a strong community for change in our city.

Sergey Komardenkov (Moscow, Russia): In Russia, there isn’t a culture for open innovation just yet. Everyone waits for change and seldom do people try to do anything by themselves. Russian education teaches us to comply by the rules instead of getting together in teams to achieve something important. That’s why we need open innovation.

Ekaterina Egorova and Sergey Komardenkov at a Moscow Chapter event

What inspired you to be a part of the OpenIDEO community?

Shwetabh (Bengaluru, India): Being an OpenIDEO Chapter Organizer and community designer gave me the opportunity to interact with the proactive community members who look forward to actively contributing to an initiative that makes the world a better place. It's like a scaffolding that brings together people and fuels their design for social impact journey.

Sergey (Moscow, Russia): I missed doing projects that ranged broad topics and had diverse possibilities for research and idea generation. For me, this was an opportunity to train my user research muscle and while doing good for people and the planet.

Ximena: I was inspired by the opportunity to nurture a community in a city that is relatively new to innovation and design thinking. We wanted to start to connect with global communities and positively impact others through design, and OI was the perfect platform for us to be part of.
The Guatemala OpenIDEO Chapter

What value do you find in being a Chapter Organizer?

Ximena (Guatemala City, Guatemala): I’m proud to be building a community that never existed in Guatemala City before. In a city where design and innovation are often unknown or misinterpreted, the opportunity to build and nurture a strong and active community to promote design thinking for social good has been our proudest moment. 

Shwetabh (Bengaluru, India): Being a Chapter Organizer has been one of the most satisfying experiences I have had in my entire career to date. In a developing economy like India, it's not always possible to take up a job that provides you with the satisfaction and contentment that you seek from life. Being a community designer and OpenIDEO Chapter Leader gives me the opportunity to interact with the proactive community members who look forward to actively contribute to an initiative.

Ivy Chiu (Hong Kong): I’m proud to be able to take part in supporting a local community to co-create initiatives that cultivate young people's creative confidence so they can have a long-term impact on society. 

Gonca Çamkerten (Ankara, Turkey): I love being part of a team and community that cares about local and global problems. And I love to experience the boldness that comes with taking real action to solve problems—it's really mind-blowing.

Ekaterina Egorova (Moscow, Russia): I like to transmit knowledge and learn together with the amazing people from the OpenIDEO global community, while encouraging others to take action.

Chapter members in Bengaluru conduct user research

What have you learned as a Chapter Organizer?

Shermaine Heng (Berlin, Germany): Being able to apply the things I learn through my experience of working in a creative agency to this platform for social change. The most rewarding part of the experience is bringing like-minded people together and seeing the magic they can create.

Shwetabh (Bengaluru, India): My team and I have evolved in terms of how accepting and open we have become to the people we come across and their divergent opinions. Being leaders mandates us to step into the shoes of our community members and try to look at and understand things from their perspective.

What issues is your Chapter most looking forward to address in your community?

Gonca (Ankara, Turkey): Looking forward, we’d like to address the issue of women’s rights. Every month, hundreds of women are killed in Turkey. We cannot even start to talk about equal pay. The issue starts with the right to live "a life." I’d love for the OpenIDEO and Turkey community to make an impact—I think it should be a must for our local community.

Shwetabh (Bengaluru, India): Owing to several food waste management initiatives run by corporate organizations and NGOs in the city, we’re really excited to see how the Food System Vision Prize unfolds in the upcoming months.

We invite you to join OpenIDEO's Chapters—a worldwide community of innovators who foster action and collectively design solutions to impact their cities. Check out this list to see if there's one near you. If you don't see a Chapter in your city, consider launching your own! Starting a Chapter begins with building a strong team and launching an Outpost event. Head to our brand new resources page for a walk-through of the application process—from initial interest to note of acceptance.