In this phase you'll begin to think through the problem you're trying to solve, estimate the necessary resources and consider partnerships within and outside government. This will help identify goals and desired outcomes and determine if a challenge is the appropriate tool for achieving results.
Make the Case
Most challenges require approval from agency leadership or someone else. When developing your challenge, think of a business case you can present for approval. This step helps you to distill the value proposition of your challenge.
After you make the case, your leadership should understand how the challenge contributes to the agency mission, the partnerships involved, and who the audience and stakeholders are.
Like any business case, you'll also want to show the potential return on investment.
You want to inspire people through your challenge, and that doesn't just mean those who ultimately will propose solutions to your problem. Your colleagues and leadership also need some inspiration.
Focus on the anticipated outcomes related to your agency's mission. This will help those at your agency see your challenge as a serious approach to achieving results and more than just a way to engage the public.
Challenges serve many purposes. They can focus attention on an agency topic, bring fresh perspectives to a problem, obtain an actual solution and accelerate agency goals. To make the case that a challenge is an effective tool for a given purpose you must explain how the challenge and its expected outcomes align with your agency's missions and goals.
To gain approval and support for your challenge, be clear about the goals and outcomes. Go beyond the prize award. An outcome should demonstrate how a solution will be used, how agency stakeholders might use it or be affected by it, and how it will support your agency's mission and goals.
A solution can benefit the agency directly or indirectly. Indirect outcomes could include stimulating a market, advancing a technology or engaging a new audience.
Many people aren't familiar with challenges, so be prepared to describe challenges in general and how they're being used by other agencies across the government.
Identify others within your agency or department that have run a challenge to learn how they addressed certain issues. If your agency has a challenge lead or coordinator, that person probably will have resources you can tap as well.
Be prepared to talk about the unique benefits that challenges offer and how they can be used to complement contracts and grants. Remind your leadership and other offices that the process will look different than a traditional program. After all, that's the point! If you've done your research and know a challenge is the right approach, resist pressure to force your project to look more like a contract or a grant.
Use examples from other federal agencies (or your own agency) where a challenge had a demonstrable impact. Review the toolkit's case studies and any outcomes reported by your agency in previous prize authority progress reports to find examples to make your case.
Earlier in the process, you began building your team. Conduct a roadshow to key offices (e.g., legal, communications, procurement and program offices with a stake in the subject matter) to propose the idea while it's still in development. This will gives you a chance to enroll those offices as co-designers. You may have to go through an approval process to design and plan your challenge and again when you're ready to announce the challenge. It will be easier to move your project through these approvals if you've already started socializing the idea.
Other offices may have concerns or advice that could strengthen your challenge design. Remain open to tweaking your concept and design as you bring more people on board to champion your challenge.