Brainstorming with OpenIDEO to Save Lives | Beth's Blog

Brainstorming with OpenIDEO to Save Lives

Digital Strategy

Note from Beth: I written a lot about crowdsourcing and measuring the impact of the crowd, so I’m really intrigued by this project because they are using crowdsourcing from creative people to get ideas about how to solve an on the ground project.    What I like most about this platform, although at times a little difficult to navigate, is the collaboration map.   The design encourages people to connect and create.

Guest Post by Jennifer Aaker, Katie Clark, and Katie Pfeiffer

If you were given the opportunity to save a life, would you? Can social media be used to save lives? A group at Stanford University hopes the answer to both questions is yes.  Stanford’s Haas Center for Public Service has partnered with OpenIDEO, an open-innovation platform dedicated to the generation of solutions to social issues (and an initiative of the world-renowned design company IDEO) to save thousands of lives.  And we need your help.

The Problem:  A 1 in 20,000 Chance of Finding a Match

You probably know that leukemia is a form of cancer of the blood or bone marrow. And you might know that bone marrow transplants are a form of treatment. But did you know that certain populations are dramatically under-represented in existing bone marrow registries? Or that there is a 1 in 20,000 chance for a South Asian to find a match? The story that gave rise to this effort is that of Sameer Bhatia, a Stanford undergrad-turned-entrepreneur whose friends, staring that 1 in 20,000 statistic in the face, embarked on a social media campaign and registered 25,000 people in just 11 weeks. Learn more about Sameer’s story

The Potential Solution: Open-Innovation Brainstorming

This story caused us to ask the OpenIDEO community: How might we increase the number of registered donors to help save more lives?

Resonating with the central idea behind The Dragonfly Effect, we are using OpenIDEO’s open-innovation platform and social media tools to achieve our goal of getting one hundred thousand individuals into the National Bone Marrow Registry this year. This collaboration will allow us to tap a community of creative folks to solve the issue of donor diversification and to help improve the lives of cancer patients.

Where You Fit In: Join Us

As nonprofit leaders, technical experts, and bloggers, you have a unique perspective to offer to this OpenIDEO Challenge. We’d love your ideas for solving this significant problem. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to browse through the current list of Inspirations ( and consider how your own acumen can inform our community at large. We’re especially interested in the question of how we can inspire under-represented populations, particularly South Asians, to get their cheek swabbed and join a bone marrow donor registry.

See you on OpenIDEO!*

*If you’ve not yet registered with OpenIDEO, here are some steps to help you get started:

1. Check out to learn about our Challenge

2. Create a new profile using the Login tab on the right, then click on the Inspirations tab to read about the initial concepts developed for the challenge.
3. Click on the Concepting tab to upload a Concept that addresses a potential solution (or 2 or 5!), let all your friends, family and colleagues know that they can do the same – tweet about the challenge, put it up on Facebook, send emails to your friends, and share the video.

Thanks in advance for checking out the Challenge at and contributing your own creativity to our open-innovation brainstorm.

Jennifer Aaker is the General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

Katie Clark is the Graphic Design and Visual Asset Lead at IDEO.

Katie Pfeiffer is Communications Director at Stanford University’s Haas Center for Public Service.

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