Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Idea Engine

To think forever...
I have been on the look out for places where I could simply ideate and brainstorm with creative people about solutions to problems in various spheres of human relevance. John and I started a blog for that which unfortunately fizzled out (though John is still going strong). I was part of the Global Ideas Bank and had submitted a few ideas there but that was kinda limited. Google/Yahoo groups is really not my favourite. Here is what I want (and probably something that I will go ahead and create if/when I find time):
The website is divided into the following parts:

  • Ideators
  • Stakeholders
  • Portfolio
  • Agora
  • Synthesis

    Ideators are those who simply enjoy thinking and solving problems irrespective of size. Their life's joy is in solving a problem and the zest multiplies with the relevance the problem has with life around us. A Sudoku puzzle is fine, but handling a medical supply delivery logistics to sites of natural disaster could be something entirely different. They thrive on the fecundity of the mind and bask in the appreciation and recognition it brings them. Most of them hold true that what is of the mind, is by far the greatest contribution an individual can ever make to the world.

    Stakeholders are basically people who are interested in having a solution to their problem. They might be motivated by monetary benefits in the solution, or in rapidly realising a solution for the benefit of society in general. They could be NGOs who are plagued with a problem which they recognise needs more eyes than the pairs they have, or they could be biophysicists trying to figure out something missing in their approach to making ligaments stronger in their core molecular structure. They could be companies trying to work out the nature of chemicals that they need to treat stains on clothes or government bodies trying to find ideas to handle traffic congestions in various parts of a city. They could be educational institutions worried about the core fibre of students who pass out or a car manufacturer interested in new designs for bumpers. They are basically people who have a problem and would love to hear solutions to them. They might also be willing to reward you for your efforts! Anyone can pose a problem. This means that I could pose a problem that I recognised and a solution for it (both being done in different areas of the site), though this problem might not affect me. Corporations can purchase problems (that have been posted by others and which are up for sale). Problems will have the detailed description and can have stipulations about various IP issues (copyright, etc.). They can insist upon contractual agreements and other stipulations.

    The site facilitates portfolio creation and management where individuals can store and present ideas/solutions to various problems and feature prototypes of their solutions. They can trade these ideas with commercial and government organisations. The portfolio will highlight their depth and breadth of knowledge, creativity, research skills, collaboration and facilitating skills and a wide range of skills and talents to give a more complete description of the person. This description of the person will be based partly on the individuals opinion and qualifications as well as informed and objective rating provided by other users of the system. A portfolio would be mix of text documents (secure) in some standard formats, images, videos and users' response to each of them. This is very serious stuff so moderating will be quite strict and people simply cannot post their navel piercing images or discuss Britney Spears' latest beach video (btw, have you seen it?). Every user is allowed to customise his/her portfolio to reflect his/her individuality and the face s/he wishes to present to the world. The portfolio could be a very well integrated flash presentation running the viewer through the various achievements and ideas of the user in a coherent and appealing manner or it could just be a simple HTML page with links to various other pages. This also helps those who are seeking jobs to better reach out to their employers.

    The agora is basically the space in which users meet and share/discuss ideas. Here is where the commenting, critiquing, polishing, volunteering and grand presentations take place. Here is where web-conferences, team/project rooms and white board brainstorming happens. Every activity is tracked and hence, stealing of ideas or any such abuse of the facility can be captured to the maximum extent feasible. The community will be divided based on user requirements, i.e. a new group will be created within the community and at a particular level in the tree if a group of (say) 5 or more individuals express a need for it with a clearly documented purpose and justification as to why they cannot fit in elsewhere. Initial moderators will be assigned and policies for election, shuffling, rotation can be structured. Here is where comments, rating, accolades, brickbats are available in surplus.

    Synthesis is what happens mostly in the background. A person's rating and value to the thought community is converted and presented as clear and non-technical indicators. A person's involvement which provided value to a discussion or a problem's solution is also gathered and used as input to the final score. The indicator is representative of the various skills that a person has to provide and not just an "A" or a "B+". A colour matrix or some spider-web is envisaged to provide secondary level of detail. The first indicator could be some title or names of great personalities who demonstrated similar combinations of skills. These are details that can be worked later on. Stakeholders are also marked based on the level of interesting problems that they present as well as the help they provide in clarifying doubts that ideators may have.

    Do you know of any such site? In my search (did that just now), I came across a site called InnoCentive.com which come spookily close to what I have described here in some aspects described above, though the agora nature of the site doesn't seem to be well developed and I feel they are missing out on a lot of valuable information. I was recommended ThinkCube by John but am yet to assess it.

    Why do I need such a community? I just enjoy hanging around with people who love to think!! :-)
  • 3 comments:

    1. Parvati12:11 AM

      Ideally since you like to think in the context of problem solving, to be amidst such people you should be working in Management consultancy firms if you are not already doing so. Whereby not only will you actually think and offer solutions, but will also be privy to the way the solutions are executed and a constant back and forth feedback and input and feedback making it a fulfilling experience in a well rounded way.

      Having think-friendly virtual spaces is all very well; but if you are interested in completeness, you should have a full fledged career in consultancy firms which get as their clients everyone and anyone from capitalistic corporates to altruistic NGOs.

      # I know that I have gone on a tangent to this post; but I too like to solve problems and your cry for 'people who love to think' is an issue that deserved the tangential comment. Hope it helps. Hope you would bear with it, if it doesn't touch a chord in you...

      # Anyway, all luck to this virtual-(ad)venture too...

      ReplyDelete
    2. Dear P,
      Mgmt consulting might be damn good and exciting but it is not the same as the wide range I am talking about. Secondly, it doesn't provide vent to creativity of the kinds that goes into designing. Product engineering and design might be the answer, but that leaves out tackling social problems and the like. As in, no one job seems to provide the wide range of ideation that excites me. Hence, a gang of blokes sipping tea/coffee/beer/milk/water discussing all kinds of things under the sky would be more exciting. A bit of this and a bit of that... :-)

      ReplyDelete
    3. Parvati2:48 PM

      Oh. A lotus eater, in other words? Well, what a surprise ;-)! - join the elite club, Eroteme. I am the president according to the valued One, a membership without even a preliminary glance at your credentials...

      ReplyDelete