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Friday, August 6, 2010

Weekly Roundup: Here?s Your Chance to Work with IDEO?

By Francisco Noguera

The winning concept of OpenIDEO's first challenge.

This week saw the launch of OpenIDEO, a new collaboration platform where you can literally work with IDEO staff and other design thinkers around the world. OpenIDEO was conceived to encourage collaboration and apply the principles of design thinking to critical social challenges. A catchy video with an accent whose origin I've not yet deciphered (IDEO's take on the "About Us" section) explains in a couple of minutes how you can actually contribute to design-driven solutions to social challenges, while increasing your Design Quotient and creating a name for yourself as a capable "designer for social impact".

The days when you needed an introduction to get your resume to the right person are long gone. If you want to work with IDEO, go and do it. Start by collaborating on the fascinating challenge related to affordable private schools, part of the Enterprising Schools project of Grey Matters Capital.

OpenIDEO was one of several ingredients that made this week remarkably interesting.  Here's a roundup with some recommended links:

  • SKS and the question of profit: SKS recently went through its first public offering and it was oversubscribed by 13 times. A successful financial transaction, it turned the volume up on a debate that lies at the core of what we discuss on NextBillion: profit motive vs. social impact. Sasha Dichter wrote a fantastic article related to this, which led me to catch up on the lively debate that has been going on for a few weeks, as well as discovering fascinating blogs such as that of Endeavor's Elmira Bayrasli, who also wrote on this topic. Philanthropy Action's Tim Ogden published a very useful roundup on the SKS IPO and its relationship to the closing of Unitus that will allow you to form your own opinion about profits and serving the poor.
  • Statecraft through Social Entrepreneurship: Last year I had a chance to see Alec Ross deliver a great presentation at Pop!Tech. This week, many of the same ideas were discussed at the first Tech@State, which focused on mobile money and featured a thought-provoking opening by Frog Design's Jan Chipchase. I'm not American, and my country is very often and very heavily affected by the policies crafted at the U.S. State Department. In this vein, seeing efforts like those discussed at Tech@State taken seriously is exciting. For the same reason, I always appreciate Nathaniel Whittemore's historical insights on different discussions around social entrepreneurship. This week he wrote an insightful article about the meaning of Tech@State in the context of diplomatic efforts of the world's most powerful country.
  • The richest agree to let it go: The Giving Pledge announced a few weeks ago by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet found a fertile audience, and this week saw an unprecedented commitment by many of the world's wealthiest individuals. Seeing what causes will be supported by these monies will be interesting, especially the parts of it that help perfect the capital curve for market-based solutions to poverty. Nathaniel, again, suggested a social private equity fund a few weeks back. That's just one example of the financial innovations that can be piloted with large sums of money that are waiting to take risks, not avoid them.

Happy weekend. Happy reading.  

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