An ideation challenge supports:
- New ways of understanding and framing problems
- New processes to solve problems
- Innovative implementations as solutions to problems
In contrast to other challenge types, the ideation challenge is open-ended, allowing challenge participants to develop responses using a variety of resources. Usually, it does not pre-determine the solution by stating that it must, for example, be a software solution, data set, or other specific outcome. Therefore, the ideation challenge is ideal for sourcing input and ideas on a broad range of problems, especially those with hard-to-define concepts (like peace or tolerance) or addressing questions whose solution may involve outcomes resulting from the collective efforts of multiple disciplines (like the collaboration between a mathematician and sociologist to solve a problem whose solution may have initially appeared to be only math based).
Often, great ideation challenges start by asking your own agency for input on questions. Large organizations often employ experts with diverse specialties may not regularly collaborate on your issues, but who offer valuable insights and novel approaches to solving problems you're facing.
Don't jump to monetary prizes first. Sometimes other awards, like recognition, can be more satisfying to certain audiences. Particularly for Ideation challenges that are the first step in a series of challenges, the opportunity to get feedback and to participate in subsequent phases can be key non-monetary incentives for solvers.
When seeking new ideas and novel approaches, extensive outreach, particularly to solvers outside the usual suspects in your field are key. It is often valuable to work with pre-existing organizations or networks that contain groups of solvers you know you want input from, but may not have your own connections too.
Do LOTS of outreach and remember that marketing has many forms Cast as wide a solver net as possible. Some of the most innovative ideas for solutions come from solvers far removed from the problem subject area of expertise.
A well-defined, clearly articulated problem statement is critical to solvers providing you with novel but actionable ideas. This activity may take longer than any other section of the challenge, and that's fine. Be careful not to define the solution before the challenge. Instead, focus on carefully defining the key problem you want to solve. Particularly when working with an abstract concept you're seeking ideas on, use facts and data to build a structure around the concept to give challenge participants frame of reference.
Set parameters for the challenge only if they are required (e.g., don't say a solution must cost only X dollars if cost is not really an issue).